What happens when you leave a cube of ice under the sun? It starts to melt, right? So imagine how an arctic canine would feel when it faces the sweltering heat of the outdoors.
Alaskan Malamutes are built for cold weather. Nature was generous in equipping them with all they needed to survive in freezing temperatures. So when you leave this furball out in the heat, you’re effectively asking it to deal with a situation that’s beyond its limits. Hot weather leaves these canines exhausted and dehydrated.
It’s like wrapping a heavy blanket around your windbreaker and dropping yourself in the middle of the desert at noon. So how do you take care of your Alaskan Malamute when the weather starts to get warm? How do you detect the signs of heat exhaustion and protect your furry friend from its effects? Read on to find the answers to all these questions and more.
Alaskan Malamutes in the Heat
If evolution has taught us anything it’s that living beings are extremely resilient. In the wise words of Jeff Goldblum’s character in Jurassic Park, “life finds a way.” And it’s true as long as you give it time to adapt and find that way.
But in the case of the Alaskan Malamute, there’s no time for the poor things to adapt to the heat of the outdoors. They’re used to icy conditions and thrive in howling blizzards. Their bodies can handle it because of the super-insulating coating and tons of thick hair.
But in hot climates, it’s a different story. The dog overheats quickly because nature didn’t set it up for this kind of heat. Its core body temperature rises at a fast pace and the dog loses stamina and the ability to move. It will flop to the hot ground panting as its body loses its fluids at alarming rates.
How Your Alaskan Malamute Dissipate Heat
Most dogs have natural ways to get rid of excess heat that pile up under their thick coats. One of those is to open their mouth and let their tongues dangle out. It’s like opening a window in a stuffy room. You allow the trapped heat a way out and also invite a cool breeze in.
Alaskan Malamutes are no different. After all, they too are canines and using their mouths as an air conditioner is part of their makeup. The problem is, unlike other breeds that are more suited to hot climates, these arctic dogs don’t have established habits that help them react to a sudden increase in temperature.
They don’t sweat as readily as other breeds, and it might take them a while to learn to keep their mouths open and wave their tongues about like a flag to regulate their body heat.
Dangers of Keeping an Alaskan Malamute Outside in the Heat
But that doesn’t mean that Alaskan Malamutes won’t do fine in a home in Florida or Southern California for example. If anything, these admirable dogs are adaptable and will instinctively seek cool shady areas to lie down.
But what if there are no cool areas to keep their body temperature down on a hot day? Well, the dangers are numerous and your dog might start to show signs of heat exhaustion and its body gets dehydrated quickly. Another danger is overheating which puts the dog’s vital organs at serious risk. If dehydration continues, renal failure is a possible outcome that puts the dog’s life in danger.
Signs of Overheating
Depending on the temperature outside and how long they have been exposed to the hot weather, your Alaskan Malamute might display telling signs that it’s struggling. You need to be aware of these signs and take immediate action to protect the dog. These signs are:
- Glazed eyes. The dog will stare vacantly at nothing and show little signs of being aware of its surroundings.
- Heavy breathing. You can’t miss this sign. The dog starts panting as if it has been running for the past hour even though it’s been lying still all day.
- Dark tongue. The dangling tongue of the dog looks darker than usual. Additionally, its gums also look dark.
- Increased pulse. If you put your hand on the dog’s chest, you can feel its quick pulse. Its heart is going into overdrive trying to send blood to the surface to cool its skin.
Any one of these signs alone might not be a cause for alarm. But when you seem them displayed together, it’s a sign your dog needs to cool down. Take it inside to an airconditioned room and let it recover.
Signs of Dehydration
Dehydration is another risk that excessive heat can inflict on a breed that isn’t well prepared for hot climates. If you notice any of the following signs, make sure you offer your dog water immediately.
- Dry skin. The dog’s skin becomes less elastic. If you pinch it gently it will take time to return to its previous state.
- Lack of appetite. You offer the dog a treat or its favorite food but they don’t seem interested. Something is up. They’re thirsty and their body is about to shut down.
- Dry nose. This should be your first red flag. Dogs have wet noses all the time. When the nose starts to go dry, it indicates the body fluids are running dangerously low.
- Vomiting. This could be accompanied by diarrhea. Keep in mind that vomiting could be a symptom that the dog isn’t well.
Signs of Heat Exhaustion
While heat exhaustion isn’t as serious as dehydration or overheating, it nonetheless can lead to serious health risks that you wouldn’t want to put your dog through. These signs should alert you that the dog is in distress.
- Drolling. Dogs droll when they see or anticipate food or a treat. At least that’s what Dr. Pavlov proved. But a drolling dog in the outdoors is a sign your dog needs to find a cool place to rest.
- Restlessness. An exhausted Alaskan Malamute who can’t cope with the hot weather will become agitated and restless.
- Panting. Keep an eye for that sign. It gets worse as the heat exhaustion intensifies.
- Increased heart rate. This is another sign the dog’s body is struggling. A high heart rate means the outdoors are not a good place for your dog right now.
Ways to Help Alaskan Malamute Stay Cool in the Heat
Maintain your Alaskan Malamute’s healthy weight.
As the furry dog grapples with the oppressing heat, you have a role to play to make its life more comfortable. One of the first things to pay attention to is the dog’s weight. Notorious for their body’s capricious inclination to store fat, it’s important that you keep your dog fit and lean.
Excessive layers of fat are only useful in the arctic region to insulate the dog’s vital organs from the freezing cold. They have an adverse effect in Florida or Texas in the summer. Rather than keeping the dog warm and fuzzy, they exacerbate its overheating problem.
Create cool zones around your home.
As summer approaches, you need to take the dog’s cooling needs into consideration. Plan which parts of your home are cooler than the others and allow the dog access to these areas. Even if you can’t maintain the cool temperatures in your home, there are other more natural ways to help the dog stay comfortable.
Trees and shady corners in the backyard are a natural favorite that attracts an overheated dog and offer them respite from the incessant heat.
Protecting your Dog’s Paws, Nose, and Skin in the Heat
When the dog’s nose goes dry, that’s a serious sign that the dog is in trouble. So you need to protect the dog’s nose as well as its paws from high temperatures. Make sure the water bowl is full at all times. A bath would be a good idea to refresh the dog on a hot summer day.
If you’re not sure whether it’s a good idea to take the dog out for a walk, touch the sidewalk with your hand. If it’s too hot for your hand, it would be too hot for the dog’s paws as well.
Stay away from carbohydrates and fatty treats that are packed with calories. These tend to be stored as fat and make the dog’s body more susceptible to heat. Increase juicy treats that keep the dog hydrated and cool.
Temperature Safety Standards
When considering the temperature outside during the summer months, you need to take humidity into consideration. A humid and hot day is worse than a dry and hot one. For example, a day that scores 85 degrees Fahrenheit coupled with high humidity increases the dog’s risk of heatstrokes.
So don’t keep the dog outside on a hot day especially where shade isn’t available. A shed or a tree are prerequisites along with plenty of water.
Should You Shave Your Alaskan Malamute in the Summer?
Never! Many people think this might help the Alaskan Malamute deal with the summer heat better. But these people are mistaken. It would be like exposing the dog’s sensitive skin to the direct sun rays without any protection.
It would be better if you paid attention to the dog’s needs for shade and water and left its hair alone. This fur acts as a natural layer of protection.
Alaskan Malamutes Fur Helps Acclimation
The dog’s fur is its first line of defense against the inclement elements. This rings true for both cold as well as hot weather. Which is why dog experts and veterinarians advise against cutting the Alaskan Malamute’s hair.
This long and thick hair protects the dog’s body from the damage that the direct exposure to the sun inflicts on its skin. In general, you should think of ways to make the dog more comfortable, has plenty of shade, and its water bowl is always full to the brim.