Summer is often an uncomfortable time for most dog breeds, especially when living in areas where it gets hot, and it is important to be prepared and to do what you – as your dog’s owner and guardian – can to protect a canine friend.
Pugs and other flat-faced dogs need special care, as they run a greater risk of overheating and suffering from potentially fatal heat-related conditions, and you need to know what to expect as a Pug owner in the summer, and how to make the season as comfortable as possible for your short-legged and large-eyed fur buddy.
Pug Struggles in Hot Weather
In hot weather, dogs with flat noses are more at risk than dogs with normally shaped snouts, due to their significantly reduced air passages; this causes an inability to cool down the hot air fast enough as they inhale, which could lead to overheating and even heatstroke. You will often see Pugs panting heavily even when we might not be experiencing it to be too hot outside, so it is crucial to pay attention to all the signs.
It is believed that Pugs are at the greatest of risks when it is over 85 degrees Fahrenheit, but this does not mean they are necessarily safe in milder temperatures. Aspects like the level of humidity also affect the health risk for a Pug, so just because it is only 75 degrees – the humidity might make it feel like more.
The problem with the Pug is how overenergetic they can be, and how they sometimes forget to pay attention to their own limitations. They get so caught up in games, fun and play that they continue for much longer than what their bodies can handle, so if you have one of those fun-loving Pugs – it could be up to you to set the boundaries.
Related: Dog Food for Pugs.
The most acute consequence of overheating is the life-threatening condition heatstroke. This is something all dog owners should be fearful of, regardless of what dog breed your dog is, as no breed (purebred or mixed breed) is immune to this.
There is a difference between Hyperthermia and heatstroke, where hyperthermia is when the body temperature is higher than what is considered generally acceptable and normal (usually due to fever), and heatstroke is the same effect – an elevated body temperature – but with a different cause. Heatstroke is not caused by fever, but by the canine body’s inability to deal with excessive (external) heat.
It is not just the immediate dangers of being overexposed to heat that can threaten your Pug’s health, but there is also such a thing as long-term damage. These types of side effects will usually show later, and it affects inner organs like the heart, liver, and kidney. You may think your dog is fine once he or she stops panting and goes back to breathing normally, but what is so tricky about non-fever hyperthermia is that the true consequences may take some time before they start showing, and by then it is possibly already too late.
Taking Precaution Indoors
On very hot days, it is a good idea to leave the AC on for your dog, both when you are home, but especially when you go out for the day. When you are not home it is impossible to know what conditions your dog is stuck in, as it can quickly, and the best thing to do if you want to guarantee the safety of your Pug – leave the AC on when you go out.
If your house does not have Air Conditioning or if you prefer not to keep it on, then a good option is to put out fans so that your dog can sit in the draft if it gets too sweaty.
A cooling mat is another excellent way to keep dogs comfortable inside. You can get a cooling mat from most larger pet stores, or you can be smart and order one online where there is a bigger selection to choose from. Most cooling pads use a form of gel inside the mat, that automatically cools down when pressure is added.
This means that it will activate once your dog steps onto it, and it is not something you need to charge or replace. It could take some time for a Pug to get accustomed to using a cooling mat but try placing it somewhere where he or she is likely to lay down; on the floor, on the couch or on top of their regular bedding.
Always have fresh water available for your Pug to drink from, as it is key to preventing overheating and heat stroke. A dog water bottle will prove very useful for a pug owner in the summer. It may be tempting to add ice to your dog’s water, but this can cause a reversed effect as your dog’s body might not be able to handle the drastic temperature change. Instead, fill your Pug’s bowl up with cool to room temperature water, and change it often to make sure it stays fresh.
How About the Outdoors?
The best tip for hot summer days is to simply avoid going outside with your Pug. Hot weather is not safe for brachycephalic dog breeds, and overheating can happen a lot sooner than you might be able to anticipate.
There is also the issue of hot pavement that could result in burns on your Pug’s paw pads, so if possible – avoid walking your dog during the day and stick to going outside in the morning and once the sun has gone down.
These are simple steps to get your Pug through the hottest months of the year, and to be fair – you probably don’t want to be out during the day either.
Dogs do have to pee though, and if you don’t have a patio or a backyard to let your Pug pee in throughout the day – consider getting a pee pad. A pee pad for dogs can be placed inside, and you teach the dog to use it in a similar manner that you would teach a cat to use a litter box.
Most doggy pads have artificial grass to motivate the dog to want to pee on it, but it could take some time to train your Pug to do what you expect him to do. Having one of these at home means you can keep your dog indoors during those critical daytime hours, so it could be worth a try.
A third option is a cooling jacket or vest, which your dog can wear whenever you must take him outside. These are soaked in water and work as a shield from extreme temperatures, by protecting the heart and other vital organs. These are made by brands like Ruffwear, Hurtta, and others, and Hurtta also has a cooling harness for those times when you might have to take your dog outside on a leash.
Symptoms of Heatstroke
When heatstroke strikes, it does so very quickly! A few of the symptoms are rapid and/or excessive panting, unusually red or pale gums, muscle weakness, diarrhea, a bright red tongue, dizziness or lack of equilibrium, vomiting, a red tongue, extreme fatigue, signs of shock and in acute cases – coma, but there are many more potential symptoms as well.
Be very vigilant of any changes or unusual behaviors in your pug, both after a walk but also when inside or out in the backyard. Heatstroke is not just caused by your pug running around when it is hot outside, but it could also happen if the dog is simply lying there relaxing in the sun.
For your pugs to get through the summer, it is up to you to take all the necessary precaution and to protect them from the worst of the heat. If you notice any signs of overheating or heatstroke – take your dog and run to the vet as soon as possible. If you are right, there is no time to lose, and even if it turns out to be nothing, it is always better to be safe than sorry. The safety of your Pug is in your hands, and by following a few simple guidelines and by using common sense – summer can be just as enjoyable as any other season.
Keep in mind that there are plenty of things you can do to entertain your energetic Pug inside the house so that you can limit outdoor activities to early mornings and late nights.