WRITTEN BY STACY | EVERYTHINGSHIHTZU.COM
When the dog days of summer roll around, things can get really really hot, especially for dogs with their built-in fur coats!
Whether you’re a human or an adorable Shih Tzu, it’s important to stay cool in order to avoid serious issues like heat exhaustion and heatstroke.
If your pup gets overheated easily, which is a tendency of the short-snouted Shih Tzu breed, then it becomes even more critical for you to know how to keep your pup nice and cool.
The best way to keep your Shih Tzu cool in the summer is to make sure she spends most of her time indoors in a cool environment. Let her play and take her for walks during the cooler times of the day, and always make sure she has access to cold, fresh water.
Plus, there are several pet products available that can lend you a helping paw when it comes to assisting your pooch in beating the heat.
Getting overheated is a serious problem that can lead to some scary situations like lethargy, vomiting, listlessness, and collapse.
But don’t worry! Preventing heat exhaustion isn’t difficult, you just need to stay alert and know what to do!
Noticing the signs of potential heat exhaustion and acting quickly can make a big difference in your Shih Tzu’s health.
If you're not sure how to tell if your dog is overheated, by the end of this article you will, but first knowing how to keep your Shih Tzu cool in the summer is always the first line of defense.
Although you're most likely going to run into hotspots outdoors, even indoor environments can present dangerous situations.
For example, if your Shih Tzu is home but your A/C is not working, or of course, your pup is inside of a hot car, both of these scenarios can lead to serious complications.
Obviously, you know you should NEVER leave your dog in a hot car, but it's so important that it's worth mentioning anyway.
You love your dog and want to be with them, but on hot summer days where temperatures inside a car can get dangerously hot in minutes, it's best to leave your dog at home.
Hot summer days might make you think of beach trips and fun in the sun, but your Shih Tzu can't handle extreme temps very well.
Once your Shih Tzu's temperature passes 103.5-degrees, she officially has hyperthermia...in other words she is overheating.
This doesn't mean you can never enjoy outside activities with your pup, it just means you need to be cautious.
Keep these tips in mind to help keep your Shih Tzu stay cool in the summer:
Ensure that your pup always has fresh water available, both inside and outside. The water should be cold, but not super cold as ice-cold water can actually restrict blood vessels and trap body heat.
You can either toss a few ice cubes into her bowl or use a special polar type bowl that is designed to keep water colder for longer periods of time.
It’s important that your Shih Tzu has access to some areas that are not directly in the sun. If your yard has a covered patio, this could do the trick, or perhaps a shady tree or two for your pup to rest beneath.
If you don’t have either of these options, then create some shaded areas using a canopy, a well ventilated dog house, or other similar items so your dog has some options of places to go to escape the intense heat.
One of the best ways to keep your pup cool is to be smart. If it’s super hot outside, keep your dog indoors.
When you are outside or engaging in a lot of activity, make sure to monitor your pup closely for any changes in behavior that could indicate she is getting overheated (more on this below).
Take your dog for walks earlier in the morning and in the evening, when the temperatures aren’t so brutal.
Get some help keeping your pup cool with some products designed to conquer the heat -- or at least make it more manageable and tolerable for your pooch.
You can use items like a cooling pad, misters, or even a kiddie pool with about an inch or two of water (not too much, Shih Tzu are not swimmers) to help your pup stay comfortable and feeling refreshed.
Sometimes, the terms overheated and dehydrated are used interchangeably, but they are not the same thing. We’ve already talked about what getting overheated means (and we’ll look at the signs in just a moment).
If your Shih Tzu is suffering from dehydration, then this means she is not getting enough fluids and needs to replenish both her fluids and electrolytes.
While being overheated can certainly contribute to dehydration, having one condition doesn’t automatically mean you have the other.
If your pup is dehydrated, she could need emergency medical care depending on how severe the dehydration is.
If your pup is overheated, simply giving her more fluids won’t necessarily fix the problem because you need to reduce her body temperature quickly before more serious consequences like heatstroke or worse occur.
So how do you know if your Shih Tzu is overheated? There are several signs and symptoms to keep an eye out for when you are engaging in a lot of activity with your pup or are in a hot environment.
You may notice one of the following signs (or several) that indicate your Shih Tzu is too hot, and if so, it is best to assume your pup is overheated and act fast to cool her down immediately:
The best way to help your Shih Tzu if she becomes too hot is too cool her down as soon as possible.
First, move your pup to a shady spot and let her lie on a cool, not cold, towel, or a cooling pad, to start bringing down her overall temperature.
Place some additional cool cloths over her neck and between her legs and offer her some cool water but don't force her to drink it, she'll drink when she's ready.
If you feel comfortable doing so, take her temperature (the best way is to use a rectal thermometer - it just is, sorry).
The normal temperature of a dog is between 101 and 102.5, temperatures above that are a good indication your dog is in trouble. If you do need to call your vet or an animal clinic, having this information can be very helpful.
Watch her closely for signs of improvement, and if she doesn’t seem to be getting better, or she is getting worse, get her to the vet immediately.
When it comes to summer safety, and just staying safe in the heat no matter what the season, knowing what to do and being able to do it quickly can make all the difference between having a healthy or sick pup.