It's hot out – are your dogs doing okay?

Updated: Mar 25

I think (and worry) about my dogs all the time. I’m a crazy dog person like that. 😊

Which is why I’ve been looking for ways to get them through the intense, searing heat. The sun this month has been relentless. You can feel it even when you’re indoors. My poor pets. 😞

(By the way, the dog below is mine, and her name is Marsh. She’s probably wondering why I’m too close and in-her-face when I took the photo. Too cute.)

So I asked Dr Jaipal Singh Gill, executive director of SPCA Singapore, and his team for tips on how to better care for our dogs and prevent heat-related injuries. I hope their advice will help soothe our pets.

On top of their suggestions, they also provide other important details:

• Want to take your dogs out for a walk? Avoid the worst of the heat, especially around noon, and lower the intensity and duration of their exercise on exceptionally hot or humid days.

• Unless your AC is always running and you have space for a kiddie pool, being indoors is no guarantee that your dogs won’t feel the heat. They’ll love a cool refreshing drink and chicken-flavoured ice cubes; they’ll also appreciate ice packs on their head, neck and groin, where the big blood vessels are found.

• Dogs release heat from their paws, hence the tip about spritzing their paws with cool water and submerging their paws slowly in cool water. 😊

• With their coats, your dogs don’t need clothes to shield them from the elements. The added layer only prevents them from regulating their own body temperature.

• Watch for signs of overheating, which can lead to a heat stroke – a common occurrence that is avoidable if dog owners took the time to understand their pets' physiology.

• Two factors can lead to heat stroke in dogs:

1. When dogs are restricted to a warm, enclosed environment. They can't escape, so they are unable to lose heat through panting within that space. Consistent air flow is important.

2. When they do not have enough water to replace the fluids lost through panting (when you sweat, you need to drink to replenish your fluids too). Dogs need fluids in their bodies in order to lose heat. A lack of fluids leads to dehydration, and therefore the inability to lose more heat.

• Is your dog panting heavily and continuously? This is a symptom of heat stroke. Other symptoms include:

1. Heavy drooling

2. Trouble breathing

3. Rapid heartbeat

4. Dark or red gums and tongue

5. Weakness

6. Agitation

7. Wanting to lie down

8. Inability to rise and walk

9. Slowing down or refusing to participate in an activity

Don't wait – check with your vet!

Special thanks to SPCA Singapore – I’m sure I'm not the only one who'll benefit from this information. If you’d like to volunteer, send donations, and learn more about their programmes, visit their site. Why not consider adopting or fostering a pet, and making a difference? 😊

SPCA is at 50 Sungei Tengah Road, Singapore 699012; tel: 65 6287 5355.