Now that we’ve finally emerged from winter, summer brings longer walks and more trips to the dog park with that favorite tennis ball. Sadly, it also brings an increased risk of heat-related illnesses.
Just as humans face dehydration and heatstroke, our furry friends can also suffer from too much exposure. And, generally, dogs have a more difficult time regulating their body temperature and dealing with heat than do humans do.
When in doubt, always seek the advice and support of a veterinarian. But, as a dog owner, it is also important to know a few general tips to help at any given moment.
So while you’re enjoying that summer sun, take care of your Great Dane while minding the following hot weather tips! Happy and safe summer!
Common Hot Weather Risks
One of the most common heat-related risks is dehydration.
Dehydration happens when your Great Dane has not received enough water to properly cool themselves off.
This can quickly happen on walks, while playing outdoors, or if they are left in a hot environment. However, with diligence, dehydration can be easily identified, before it becomes too severe.
Signs of dehydration include depression, lethargy, or disinterest in playing. Your Great Dane’s eyes may also appear sunken or their nose may appear drier than usual.
Finally, if you notice your pet’s mouth is dry, tacky or dull, you may be seeing signs of dehydration.
In extreme cases, you will want to immediately bring your Great Dane to your emergency veterinarian. They may need an IV to more quickly provide necessary fluids.
In mild cases, you can easily care for your pet yourself.
- Start by making sure they are in an air-conditioned environment.
- Then, offer them cool water in moderation!
Ensure that they are drinking small amounts of water over time and not all at once.
To prevent dehydration, always be sure your Great Dane has access to clean, cool water. Water should be kept in a container that they will not easily knock over or quickly go through.
A more severe heat-related illness is heatstroke. Heatstroke happens when your Great Dane can no longer regulate their own body temperature and quickly overheats.
A step beyond heat exhaustion, heatstroke can be fatal and needs to be taken extremely seriously.
Signs of heatstroke include excessive panting that may stop suddenly, uncoordinated or clumsy behavior, a rapid pulse, and excessive drooling. A dog’s normal temperature should be around 101°F.
Anything higher than 104°F is cause to worry. Finally, should your Great Dane begin seizing or even lose consciousness, they may be experiencing heat stroke and should be treated immediately.
Heatstroke is serious and can be fatal. If they start showing symptoms, your Great Dane should be rushed to your emergency veterinarian immediately.
In the meantime, immediately move your pet into an air-conditioned environment. You can also help cool your dog down by wrapping them in cool towels or fanning them.
After seeking treatment, continue to monitor your Great Dane’s temperature for several hours.
Just like humans, dogs can also get sunburns after a day in the summer sun! These are typically seen in areas with little fur. This can be their ears, nose or belly. Dogs with lighter hair are also more at risk for sunburns.
Preventing sunburns can be as easy as limiting direct sun exposure. Providing shade to your pup is also helpful. Canine-safe sunscreens are also available.
If sunburns are mild, pet-safe aloe can be purchased and applied. Both products can be found at pet stores and through online distributors. If sunburns are severe, please seek your veterinarian’s support for treatment options.
General Tips For Hot Weather
Get your Great Dane’s daily, outdoor exercise before or after it heats up. This can help your pet avoid direct sunlight and exerting too much effort in the heat.
This practice can also help prevents injuries and burns to your dog’s sensitive pads!
Hot sidewalks or roads can quickly cause severe burns. Some dog owners opt to purchase booties for their pup to help prevent burns. These should be available at your local pet store and through online distributors.
Do not skip their regular exercise, but just be safe about it!
Don’t leave your dog outside
Your Great Dane may love to play outside, especially now that chilly spring is over. But never leave your dog outside for an extended period of time, especially unattended.
If it feels too hot for you…it’s too hot for them!
When they are outside, make sure there is enough shade and plenty of clean water.
You can also get them a raised dog bed to lie on comfortably that also enhances air flow to help keep them cool. Try to place it in the shade to keep them out of direct light, and therefore stay cooler!
The original elevated dog bed uses an off-the-ground cot-style design and breathable fabric resting surface will keep your dog cool and comfortable!
I’ll be the first to admit that it does look a little flimsy at first glance, but mine is 3 years old and still going strong!
Never leave your dog in a car
Never leave your Great Dane in a car. No matter how cool you think it may be or how quick your errand is, just don’t do it.
Unattended cars heat up rapidly. And dogs will start showing signs of heat exhaustion or heatstroke.
It can quickly turn fatal. Even cracking the window open will do little to help regulate the car and your dog’s temperatures.
Some states now have laws allowing passersby to break a car window in an attempt to save a distressed animal. Save your dog. (And your window!) And never leave your dog unattended in a car, under any circumstances.
Always have fresh, cool water available
Prevent dehydration by always having clean and cool water available. Make sure the container cannot be easily knocked over by your Great Dane or your family.
When leaving your pet unattended, always make sure their water is full and not at risk of running out.
When you are walking your pet during the summer, take a bottle of water or a portable dish with you. Just in case your pet starts showing signs of dehydration, you will be prepared.
Carrying water also helps prevent your Great Dane from drinking from puddles. These may be contaminated or may have harmful parasites.
Your Great Dane may love to take a quick dip on a hot summer day! Pools or lakes always make for a fun play date. However, always watch for signs of distress when your pet is playing out in the heat.
Also, please never leave your pet unattended while swimming. Even dogs comfortable in the water can easily become overexerted in the summer heat.
Try to make sure your dog does not drink too much chlorinated or untreated water. This can lead to vomiting or diarrhea. Finally, watch your dog’s ears after swimming.
Ear infections are common during summer months and often happen after swimming! Learn how to clean their ears here if they do get wet.
Fleas, ticks, and parasites, oh my!
With an increase in outdoor playtime, we can see an increase in unwanted hitchhikers on your dog’s skin! Continue using whatever parasite prevention you have chosen for your Great Dane.
Always check your dog for ticks or other parasites after spending time outdoors. This is especially important if you are in a wooded area.
How to Check A Great Dane’s Temperature
Using a Thermometer
Every responsible dog owner should own a rectal thermometer. This simple tool can be an important tool to help monitor your pet’s health. These can easily be found at your local pet store or online at any major distributor.
Using a rectal thermometer is often easier with the help of two people, as most dogs are unlikely to cooperate. If you are alone, have your Great Dane lay on their side and hold them down. Talking to them in a calming tone can help them relax.
Once you are ready, cover the thermometer in a canine-safe lubricant—like petroleum jelly. This will help with your dog’s comfort and avoid injury. Next, gently insert the thermometer, using a twisting motion. Hold the thermometer in place for 1 – 2 minutes, or whatever the manufacturer’s instructions recommend.
Then, remove the thermometer and read the temperature. Always clean your thermometer after use and before storing it away. This helps prevent the transfer of bacteria upon your next use.
Ear and infrared digital thermometers are also an option. However, they are a little bit more expensive than a traditional rectal thermometer. Although not quite as accurate, they are easily used by a single person and provide a nearly instant temperature reading.
When using either thermometer, average temperatures range from 101° – 103°F. Anything higher or lower may be cause for concern. Professional advice needs to be sought immediately is the temperature is abnormal.
Without a Thermometer
It is always recommended to own your own thermometer. However, you can sometimes be caught unprepared, like during a trip to your local dog park!
There is no way to accurately measure your Great Dane’s temperature without a thermometer. But there are several ways to monitor them and identify symptoms of a potential fever.
First, try feeling your pet’s paws, ears, armpits, groin or gums with the back of your hand. These areas may become warmer if your Great Dane is running a fever or experiencing a heat-related illness.
Another trick involves feeling your Great Dane’s nose. Is it dryer or wetter than usual? Is there any strange discharge? Any change from your pup’s norm may be a symptom of a fever.
Similar to dehydration and heat stroke symptoms, there may also be visual or behavioral signs of a fever. Your Great Dane may become disoriented or clumsy, weakness, or lethargic. They may start vomiting, excessive panting or drooling.