SANTA MONICA, Calif. — Park rangers have some words of advice for people who take their dogs on hikes in the hot sun: don’t do it. Your pup could suffer heat sickness.

The National Park Service and search and rescue teams in Los Angeles and Ventura Counties have reported half a dozen canine rescues so far in 2021. 

What You Need To Know

  • Overheating in dogs is very common during the summer months in Southern California

  • The National Park Service has reported half a dozen canine rescues so far in 2021, many of them suffering from heat illness

  • Common signs of heat illness in dogs include excessive panting, increased heart rate and drooling

  • As a general rule of thumb, if it is too hot for you to be outside, it is too hot for your pet

Park officials said many of the dogs were suffering from heat illness. Some did not have enough water.  

In the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, at least three dogs have died on local trails this summer. Officials for the park tweeted Thursday that they helped rescue two dogs near Sandstone Peak on a recent weekend when it was more than 90 degrees.

The latest dog death was on a trail in Topanga Saturday and involved a 10-year-old Rhodesian Ridgeback.

“Overheating can be extremely dangerous and should be taken seriously,” said Susan Anderson, director of disaster response for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals National Field Response Team. “If you think your pet is experiencing symptoms of overheating, you should bring them indoors and call your local veterinarian immediately.”

Signs of heat stress include panting or labored breathing, as well as excessive drooling, especially if the drool is thicker and stickier than usual. Other ways to tell if a dog is overheated is a racing pulse, a lack of urination, dizziness, vomiting, diarrhea, a temperature above 104 degrees or gums that are bright red, gray, purple or blue-ish, according to the Pasadena Humane animal shelter. 

Heatstroke in dogs in Southern California is “very common” this time of year, according to Jack Hagerman, vice president of operations and community engagement for Pasadena Humane.

He offers the following advice for keeping dogs safe when it’s hot outside:

  1. As a general rule of thumb, if it’s too hot for you to be outdoors, it’s too hot for your pet to be outdoors.
  2. Some breeds are more sensitive to heat than others. Dogs with thick coats of fur are more heat sensitive than dogs with shorter coats, as are flat-nosed breeds such as bulldogs, boxers and pugs.
  3. A dog’s age and weight are also risk factors for heat stress. Older and overweight dogs are more susceptible.
  4. On hot days, save your walks and hikes for the morning when the sun is just coming up or in the evening when the sun is going down and temperatures are cooler.
  5. If a dog is outside during the brightest and hottest time of day, make sure the animal has access to water and shade to help stay cool.
  6. If a dog begins to experience heat stress, apply cool water to the animal’s head, stomach, armpits and feet. If a fan or air conditioner is available, place the pet in front of the cool air to increase evaporative heat loss. If symptoms are severe, contact a veterinarian.