I’m sure that we all love the hot weather, but as the temperature rises you need to think about how to keep your dog cool. We’ve come up with a few suggestions for you.
Don’t leave dogs in the car
This is such a simple thing, but many people still are not getting the message. Even if the car is parked in the shade with a window open, your dog will overheat, which will lead to heatstroke. It is advised that if you see a dog alone in the car and overheating, you should call the police on 999.
If you’re not convinced, take a look at this video from Dogs Trust
Signs of Heatstroke
If your dog is too hot and is unable to control their body temperature by panting they can develop heatstroke which can lead to death if not treated immediately. If your dog is displaying signs of heatstroke then move them to a cool shaded area, try and cool the dog with cool (but not cold) water – remember, paws up – and call your vet.
The signs of heatstroke are:
- Increased heart rate
- Excessive panting
- Increased salivation
- Bright red tongue
- Red or pale gums
- Thick, sticky saliva
- Vomiting (sometimes with blood)
Remember – prevention is much better than cure!
Watch for signs of dehydration
All dogs will become dehydrated if they do not eat or drink enough. Be prepared for your dog to go off their food in this hot weather (unless it’s a Lab like ours!) They can dehydrate through vomiting, diarrhoea and panting, which if they are hot they will doing a lot of. The signs to be aware of are:
- Sunken eyes
- Dry gums
- Loss of skin elasticity
To test for dehydration, use your thumb and forefinger to pinch a little skin on your dog’s back or top of their head. The skin should spring back when you release it if they are well hydrated. It will move back into place slowly the more dehydrated your dog is until, in the most severe cases, it does not spring back at all.
If you suspect dehydration you should talk to your vet as your dog may be required to go on a drip to replace the lost fluids and prevent further dehydration.
Exercise your dogs early morning or late evening
These will be the cooler parts of the day – making it more comfortable for you and your dogs. It may be necessary to curb their exercise when it is too hot. If your dog is breathing more rapidly, then slow down – let him cool down before continuing.
Avoid walking on hot surfaces
If it’s too hot for you to stand barefoot on the pavement (or sand) for 5 seconds – then it’s probably too hot for your dog’s paws too! It’s not worth the risk to your dog’s paws – walk them when it’s cooler.
Water, water everywhere!
Make sure that dogs have plenty of clean, fresh drinking water – some dogs get picky if the water has been in the heat for too long. Just as an aside, on a few occasions we have found live wasps on the surface of the water in our outside water bowl – be aware. If you are taking your dog out, then don’t forget to take some water with you for them, there are plenty of portable water bowls on the market to choose from. I have a bum bag with all my dog walking essentials in – poop bags, collapsible water bowl and spare small lead (just in case).
The best way to cool a dog down is from the paws up! Spray some water on their paws or better still – get them a paddling pool to play in to help lower their body temperature. There’s always the garden sprinkler to use too. Our dogs love playing with the hosepipe and it gives us fun watching them. No pool or sprinkler? Try a wet towel for them to lie down on, it does better than putting it on top of them.
It is recommend that you do not put ice directly onto your dog as it may cause them to cool too quickly and constrict blood flow. Ice can be used in water bowls to try and keep the water cool too.
Some people swear by giving their dogs frozen treats. From tuna pops to chicken broth ice cubes through to special dog ice cream, there is a whole range of ideas for recipes out there. There has been some debate on whether dogs should eat frozen items, and if you are at all worried then please speak to your vet who will advise you.
A trip to the groomer could be a good idea for your dog at this time of year, especially if they have long or heavy coats. Your groomer can give your dog a “summer cut” which brings it down to no shorter than an inch. Double coated dogs won’t benefit from being clipped as this will not help them to stay cool. Their top hairs act as an insulation against sunburn and heat. Never shave your dog as this takes away their natural sun protection.
Hopefully we will have a glorious summer this year (I think we deserve one) and that we have given you some useful advice on how to keep your dog cool and what signs indicate that your dog may have either dehydration or heatstroke. The important thing is that if you are unsure – seek your vet’s advice.