We all enjoy the summer - the sun, heat and BBQs. But make sure you keep an eye on your canine friends during this season, as they can get quite hot.
If you see the mercury rising, here are some tips to keep your canine cool:
Offer an ice pack or wet towel to lay on
Add ice cubes to the water dish
Offer access to a wading pool with shallow, cool water
Offer access to cool shade by stringing up a tarp, cloth, or use a shade screen
Bring a collapsible water dish on your walks
Replace a portion of their regular diet with canned food
Avoid walking on hot pavement, and consider booties to insulate their toes
Early morning or evening playtimes, exercise, and walks are best
Give your dog some homemade frozen treats
Heatstroke in dogs: know the signs
Raised temperature (101.5° is normal)
Fatigue or depression
Excess salivation and thickened saliva
Rapid breathing and panting
Dogs can suffer fatal heatstroke within minutes. Unlike humans, dogs can’t sweat through their skin and so they rely on panting and releasing heat through their paw pads and nose to regulate their body temperature and keep cool. Imagine wearing a thick winter coat on a hot summer’s day and you’ll understand why dogs succumb to heatstroke so easily.
If you spot these signs, get your dog inside and contact your vet.
Wrap your dog in cold wet towels, especially the underarm/belly/groin area. A fan may be used on the dog during the cooling process.
How to keep a dog cool and prevent heatstroke
Make sure your dog has access to clean water at all times, ideally a large bowl filled to the brim. Carry water and a bowl with you on walks
On hot days, walk your dog during the cooler parts of the day, in the early morning and late evening
Watch your pet for signs of over-heating, including heavy panting and loss of energy. If you recognise these signs when on a walk, stop, find a shady spot and give your dog water
Never leave your dog (or any pet) alone in a car, even with the windows open
Make cooling tasty treats by making ice cubes with your dog’s favourite food inside or stuff a Kong and pop it in the freezer
Be particularly careful with short nosed dogs such as bull breeds, boxers, pugs, older dogs, and those that are overweight. These dogs can get heatstroke simply by running around
Dehydration in dogs: know the signs
Not all signs of dehydration are easy to detect. If you suspect your dog may be dehydrated, a trip to the vet is recommended.
Keep dogs in the shade in the summer heat.
Exercising in the summer
As at all times of the year, by law your dog should be wearing a collar and tag with your name and address on it. It’s also a good idea to put both your home and mobile phone number on the tag so you can be contacted immediately if your dog wanders off.
Since April 2016 it has been a legal requirement for dogs to be microchipped. Most importantly, keep the details up to date so that you can always be reunited with your dog.
Walk your dog at the cooler times of the day, either first thing in the morning or early evening
Dogs’ paw pads can burn on hot pavements. As a general rule, if it’s too hot for your hand it’s too hot for their paws.
Summer skin and coat
Pale-coloured dogs are vulnerable to sunburn, particularly on their ears, noses and sparsely haired areas. Sun damage can lead to skin cancer which may require extensive surgery – even amputation in severe cases. Sunlight can also make existing skin conditions worse, particularly if your dog has allergies.
Swimming is a great way to keep dogs cool, but stay safe
The best prevention is to keep your dog indoors when the sun is strongest, between 11.00am and 3.00pm. Alternatively, pop a T-shirt on your dog and cover vulnerable areas to protect them. You can also apply a non-toxic waterproof human sunblock or one specifically made for pets. If your dog’s skin looks sore, crusty or scaly, call your vet.
Take care of your dog’s delicate paws. If the pavement is too hot for your hand, it’s too hot for their paw pads too. Dog booties can be bought from pet shops and online, or walk your dog at cooler times of the day to prevent their paws burning.
Grooming your dog is important in the summer months, especially for longhaired breeds, to get rid of matts and tangles. A tangle-free coat will protect your pet’s delicate skin and help to keep them cool. Plus, if your pet’s coat is dirty and matted then you run the risk of flies laying their eggs and becoming maggots. Some breeds may need their coats trimming to keep them comfortable. Ask a professional groomer for advice.
If your dog swims or paddles in the sea to keep cool, remember to rinse the salt water and sand from your dog’s coat after to avoid drying out and irritating their skin.