German Shepherds were bred as herding dogs, and as such were able to move sheep 40 miles a day, but they did not do it in Charlotte’s humid weather. GSDs’ ability to cope with the heat can vary somewhat according to genetic, health and other factors, but none is designed for humid, 90-degree weather.
Your GSD may not want to slow down, but heat stroke can be fatal, even with immediate medical treatment. Prevention is critical. Fortunately, standard precautions usually are effective.
- Keep plenty of cool water available, both indoors and outdoors, in a bowl that does not tip easily.
- Exercise GSDs in moderation and during the cooler hours of the day. Watch for any signs of distress, such as excessive panting, confusion, high fever or collapse. (Your veterinarian can provide more details of danger signs for your dog.)
- Provide play and living areas that are shaded or where air circulates well or is air conditioned.
- Never leave your GSD in the car. If you cannot take your dog with you when you leave the car, leave your GSD at home. Temperatures soar in a car within minutes, even in mild weather.
Since a GSD’s coat helps insulate from the heat, shaving normally is not recommended.
If signs of distress develop, seek immediate medical treatment.