GREYHOUNDS AND SUMMER HEAT
As the weather heats up around the country, and we are able to get out and about more, we love to take our Greyhounds with us on family outings. Summertime activities like lounging by the pool, hikes and picnics, and beach outings have the potential for your dog to overheat, because they do not tolerate the heat as well as we do. Greyhounds usually have little body fat, and their dense muscles tend to generate a lot of heat during activity, so they can be prone to overheating very quickly.
Danger Signs of Overheating
Heat stress typically kicks in around 104 - 105 degrees F for Greyhounds, whose normal temperature is between 100 and 101.5 degrees F.
Here are some signs that they could be suffering from heat stress:
- Loss of alertness, glazed eyes
- Slower gait (walk)
- Drooping head, lethargy
- Excessive panting, tongue hanging out
- Muscle tremors, dizziness
- Dehydration, fever
- Lack of urine, rapid pulse
Heat exhaustion is a little more serious for Greyhounds. Typically, you will begin to see symptoms in the range of 105 – 106 degrees F. Keep an eye out for:
- Bloodshot eyes
- Drawn back lips, gums unusual color (red, gray, purple or bluish)
- Trembling/shaking, particularly in the legs
- Staggering, or weakness/collapse
- No desire to move, or inability to get up
It is crucial to act quickly if your Greyhound is exhibiting any of these behaviors. Cynda Crawford, a PHD scientist at the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine’s Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences and fellow Greyhound lover, advises to immediately move them to an air conditioned room and take their temperature. Set up a fan to blow on your Greyhound and give them lots of cool (not cold) water to drink. Also get a cold washcloth to help cool them down – particularly around the head/ears and where there is less hair like on the inner thighs.
Heat stroke is the most serious of all – your dog needs to get to the veterinarian immediately. When this happens, there is a lack of oxygen and they are almost comatose. Their kidneys and heart can slow down or stop functioning and they can become susceptible to internal hemorrhaging. These changes are usually irreversible and can lead to death.
When it is particularly hot out, make sure you take shorter walks in the morning or evening hours. The hot pavement or asphalt can also burn your Greyhound’s pads even if it feels comfortable to you – so make sure you are mindful.
More Suggestions to Beat the Heat
- Take along a water bottle, collapsible bowl, washcloth and thermometer on your walks. If you think your dog is overheating, get to a shady spot and rest until he cools down.
- Limit time spent at dog parks to a short time in early morning or later in the day when it starts to cool down.
- Also limit time at the beach, where the sun is very intense and the salt water is not as cooling as fresh water.
- A Greyhound’s thin coat is not much protection against sunburn or skin cancer, especially white dogs, so keep an eye on your dog’s skin and check out any abnormalities with your vet.
- Do not take your Greyhound for rides in the car in the hot summer, or if you must, cool off the car first. Never leave your dog inside a parked car. Even for just a minute. Even with the windows cracked. Even with the A/C on. Every year, hundreds of dogs left inside parked cars suffer heatstroke and die. Remember, your dog is more sensitive to heat than you are!
- Do not leave your Greyhound unsupervised in a pool area. They have little buoyancy due to their muscle mass and low body fat. For safety, a life vest is recommended, and be sure they know where the steps and shallow end are, just in case.
- A sprinkler set up in the backyard or a kiddie pool to splash around (or lie around) in are fun for all dogs.
Perhaps the preferred way for Greyhounds to beat the heat is roaching on a sofa in the air-conditioning! Summer can be a lot of fun for you and your pets—all it takes is a little extra attention and care.