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Hot Weather Pneumonia: A Vet Explains Prevention

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While we think of pneumonia as something our dogs suffer from in cold weather, dogs can suffer from pneumonia as well as its after-effects in hot weather too. Knowing the signs, which dogs are the most at risk, and what to do can save your dog from becoming critically ill. Pneumonia is a serious illness that can hospitalize your dog for days and cost you thousands in vet bills. And, its after-effects never go away. My 10 year old got pneumonia three years ago and she has a persistent hack as well as trouble breathing on her back.

Temperature Changes

Cathy Alinovi, DVM, a nationally-celebrated author, veterinarian, and owner of Healthy Pawsibilities, explains that temperature changes, whether it be hot or cold, can be the catalyst for pneumonia in your dog.

“Weather changes, as we move into the hot season, drive pneumonia in many species, including dogs,” Dr. Alinovi explains. “Most people think this is backwards, because we are used to pneumonia and colds and flu during the winter season. However, 20° temperature changes in a 24 hour period is prime season for anyone to get sick. The exact mechanism is not known, but is well documented in livestock species that dramatic temperature changes in a short period of time leads to pneumonia.”

“This definitely holds true for our dogs,” she continues. “The crazy thing is it’s not just when the outside air temperature changes by 20°. Drastic temperature changes between being outside and coming into the air conditioning can also lead to respiratory illness.”

If your house is set at 70, and outside it’s 90 or above, be sure to take your dog out slowly, Maybe start in the garage or in the shade where the jump is not as big, and do not go back and forth a bunch of times. This is just as bad for you as it is your dog.

Playing with your dog outside at sunset minimize the temperature changes your dog experiences each day.
Playing with your dog outside at sunset minimize the temperature changes your dog experiences each day.

Dr. Alinovi also suggests spending more time outside after the sun has gone down or before it comes up, when it’s cooler out. In addition, she recommends a cool bandana or cool collar around your dog’s neck for some “local air conditioning.”

Past Pneumonia Suffers

If your dog has had pneumonia in the past, be sure to watch them for trouble breathing. They are more susceptible than the average dog.

“Dogs who have had pneumonia before have scar tissue in their lungs so anything that challenges their lungs will cause a flare up,” explains Dr. Alinovi.

Great Nutrition – Good Immune System

The stronger your dog’s immune system, the better they will be able to handle all the temperature changes we throw at them during our daily lives. Think about it. We take our dog from the air conditioned house, to the extremely hot car, which we then rapidly cool down with A/C, and then back outside into the heat, and then either back into the hot car or cold building. That amounts to 4 or 5 temperature changes in as little as an hour.

“Great nutrition is the building block to the immune system,” Dr. Alinovi explains. “So, the better the food, the stronger the immune system. My preference is always a balanced real food – either raw or cooked – because this food has the least processing thus is easier to provide nutrients; just as humans who eat food like grandma made compared to 100% prepackaged people food.”

About the Author

Based in Tustin, Calif., animal lover Kristina N. Lotz is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer – Knowledge Assessed (CPDT-KA) and works as a full time trainer. She also owns her own custom pet products company, A Fairytail House, where she makes personalized collars, leashes, beds, keepsake pillows and blankets, and anything else your imagine can think up. In her spare time, she trains and competes in herding, agility, obedience, rally, and conformation with her Shetland Sheepdogs. She smartly married a Veterinary Technician, who helps keep the fur kids happy and healthy, and provides a quick resource for articles.

Written by Kristina Lotz
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