Ways To Cool Your Dog Down Quickly
It's summer, in fact, we are in the "Dog Days of Summer." Most of the Eastern Seaboard stateside have been seeing temperatures in the 90s with some real feels in the south well over 100 degrees. Lately, you'll have noticed a lot of fun tips to keep your dog cool in the summer, and warnings about hot sidewalks and streets being a danger to sensitive dog pads. But what if those things didn't work and your dog is overheated and needs help? Stay tuned for some tips to cool your dog off as quickly as possible in case of emergencies.
Most people's first thought is the water hose, and that's not a bad option to start with. Cool running water is great at wicking away heat from the body. But this is a German Shepherd Dog page, and most of you probably own a German Shepherd Dog. The problem with this breed in particular is their coat. That harsh, thick double coat is specifically designed to stay dry. You may have noticed if you bathe your dog yourself vs going to a groomer that sometimes when you think your dog is wet and ready for shampoo, the undercoat is bone dry and you can't even work up a lather.
The issue with this type of coat is that if you try to just spray your dog down with the hose that dry undercoat is stopping your dog from being cooled off because the water isn't reaching the skin. To combat this, do 2 things. 1: Work the water into the coat by running your hands and fingers the wrong way through the coat to lift it up to expose the skin and undercoat to the water. And 2: Focus more on the under carriage of the dog. The groin area, the armpits, the stomach, and the underside of the neck. These strategic places have large veins and arteries that can be cooled, as well as a lot of small veins that are close to the skin that can work as a network of cooling, kind of like a radiator of a car, to transfer heat from the body to the cool, running water.
Another thing you can do is use a kiddy pool or your bathtub with cold water and add ice. If you're going to use standing water vs flowing water; add ice. Standing water works great to cool off human skin, but it doesn't do much for dogs. Especially dogs with thick double coats like German Shepherd Dogs. So you'll really want to add ice. Use a cup and once again, pretend you're bathing the dog. Get the ice water into the undercoat, and make sure to focus on the same areas as before. The underside of the neck, the armpits, the belly, and the groin and inner thighs. Keep the cup busy. You're trying to create the effect of running water.
Another great tip is that if your dog will drink water, make sure it's ice water. Cooling from the inside is much more efficient than trying to cool from the outside. You don't cool your house down by hosing the outside walls and roof with water. And even though it would likely help cool the house slightly, installing an AC unit inside would be the preferred choice for just about everyone. It's simply going to work better than hosing the outside of your house!
Last but definitely not least, rubbing alcohol. If you've ever had rubbing alcohol on your hands, you've felt how cool your hands are after. Let me explain the science of it. Humans sweat for the sole purpose of cooling off the human body. As the sweat evaporates, it transfers heat from your body and releases it in the air.
Now that we've discussed how cool it feels, and why humans sweat, let's talk about why rubbing alcohol is a game changer if your dog is experiencing heat exhaustion or heat stroke.
See, rubbing alcohol (Ethyl) evaporates 5 times faster than water, and thus can transfer heat from your dog's body out into the atmosphere 5 times quicker. Use it the same way as you'd use the hose or ice bath. Focus on the inner thighs, the underside of the neck, the chest and armpits, and also the pads of the feet. They have a lot of little blood vessels and dogs use them to dissipate heat. So in this case, make sure you get the feet as well.
If you want to use the alcohol method, make sure you have some with you in the car when traveling. Make sure you have a stash of bottles of rubbing alcohol ready everywhere you know you might be with your dog. A few gallons of rubbing alcohol aren't very useful to you if you decided to go for a hike with your dog and leave the rubbing alcohol at home. Try keeping a bottle or two in your ruck pack, and several more in the car in case of emergency.
Avoid the eyes and ... other orifices. Because it's going to burn your already stressed dog. So if you can avoid the orifices, please do! Try to use the rubbing alcohol sparingly when you pour, so it can evaporate vs pool up. Repeat as many times as necessary to lower the dog's body temperature (if you don't have a thermometer for pets, get one, you'll need it eventually).
Most importantly, after you use any of these methods to cool your dog off and your dog seems to be feeling better ... go to the vet. "But my dog is behaving like normal, he's fine." Maybe, maybe not. Take your dog to the vet immediately just to be safe. This is why veterinarians exist. To help animals and to make sure that no matter what happens, they can get back to normal as soon as possible, if possible.
If you enjoyed this article or learned something, please leave a like and share. Thank you.
You may also like: 11 Top Tips To Keep Your Dog Safe This Summer
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