Summer is here and we hope you’ve been enjoying the glorious warmth and sunshine that it has brought along with it. While you’re making the most of the heat, spending longer outside, enjoying barbecues with friends and family, going for walks in the countryside and picnicking in the park, remember to keep a keen eye on your furry friend and make sure they’re safe.
Dog owners should be extra vigilant during the summer months as dogs are particularly susceptible to heat. They’re not very good at cooling themselves down, and when they get too hot, they could suffer from a serious medical condition called heatstroke.
In this article, we’ll be sharing some useful tips for keeping your pet cool and comfortable in hot weather as well as the heatstroke symptoms you must be aware of.
Recognise Symptoms of Heatstroke
Dogs are not very good at keeping themselves cool, and this is why you need to be very careful during the summer months. They can become dangerously hot very quickly and when their body temperature gets too high, cooling back down to a safe level can be challenging. When this happens, a dog will likely suffer from heatstroke, a serious condition that could result in illness and sadly, death.
Throughout summer, when your dog is more susceptible to heatstroke, you need to know how to recognise the symptoms so you can seek help fast. Watch out for:
- Increased heart rate
- Disorientation and dizziness
- Reddened gums
- Sickness and diarrhoea
- Collapse or seizure
If you notice that your dog is suffering from any of these symptoms, seek veterinary help immediately. While you are waiting for assistance, encourage your dog to drink cool water and make sure they are in the shade.
Keep Your Dog Hydrated
We all know how horrible it is to feel dehydrated on a hot day, and it’s just as unpleasant for your dog. While hydration on its own won’t be enough to prevent heatstroke, it is a really important part of keeping your dog happy and healthy and preparing them for hot conditions.
No matter the season or temperature, you need to provide a constant supply of fresh, cool water for your dog. If you’re heading out and about, remember to take water with you and encourage your dog to drink on a regular basis.
Provide Plenty of Shade
If your pup likes to be outside but your garden has little shade, consider putting up an umbrella or gazebo where they can rest and keep cool. Inside the house, encourage your dog to keep out of any direct sunlight coming through the windows or doors. For example, you should make sure their food bowl, water bowl and bed are in a shaded area.
Just like humans, dogs can suffer from sunburn, especially if they have a fine coat or light hair. You can get special sun cream for dogs, so don’t hesitate to ask your vet for a recommendation.
Never Leave Your Dog in a Parked Car
Owners leaving their dogs in cars is one of the top causes of heatstroke and often has a very sad outcome.
Cars heat up very quickly in the sun, even if the outside temperature is mild and you have left the windows partially open. You might not think there’s any harm in leaving your dog for five or ten minutes while you pop into a shop, but even in that short time, your dog could overheat and suffer irreversible side effects. Even if it doesn’t feel particularly hot outside, remember that your car could heat up to 50°C in under an hour when parked in the sun.
If you ever come across a dog alone in a hot car, don’t hesitate to call 999.
Protect Your Pup’s Paws
You’d be forgiven for assuming that your dog’s paws are pretty indestructible. They walk through mud, snow, sand, across stones and other uneven surfaces – things that you would never dream of exposing your delicate feet to unless you were wearing sturdy shoes!
You might not know this, but your dog’s paws are particularly important for keeping them cool; they have very few sweat glands and most of them are on their paws. Walking or standing on hot surfaces like concrete, asphalt and metal could damage your dog’s paws and increase the risk of heatstroke.
Encourage your dog to avoid hot surfaces when out and about in the sun and stick to the shade as much as you can. This summer, consider buying a small paddling pool to help keep your pup’s feet cool. They will find the cool water soothing on a hot day, plus, if your dog is a water baby, they’ll be able to splash around and enjoy themselves!
Cool Down Your Walks
It’s easy to feel sluggish when it’s hot and sunny, but your dog still needs to keep active and your walking routine shouldn’t stop. However, it’s not a sensible idea to head out while the sun is strong and the temperature is high. Instead, you should change your walking routine and head out at a different time of day.
By walking early in the morning or late in the afternoon, you can avoid the hottest part of the day and stop your dog from overheating. The roads and pavements will also be cooler and won’t burn your dog’s paws. Try to stick to shaded areas so that you can both avoid the strong sunlight. If you live near a park with grass and lots of trees, this would be an excellent location for a leisurely stroll.
Remember to take it easy. Your dog might love tearing around after a ball, but this isn’t so sensible in the hot weather, and they’re unlikely to anticipate the danger themselves. If it’s a scorcher, you might want to leave the ball at home and set a slow, steady pace for you and your pup.
Treat Your Dog to a Canine-Friendly Ice Lolly
There’s nothing more refreshing than a frozen treat on a baking hot day, and your dog can enjoy one too when you make them their own special canine-friendly ice lollies.
Dog-safe ice treats have multiple benefits. Since they melt slowly, they can keep your dog entertained for a while. They will also encourage your pup to stay hydrated and will help to reduce their overall body temperature.
Follow the simple recipe below:
- Chop up or mash some of your dog’s favourite fruits or vegetables (remove skin, pips and stones as these can be harmful for dogs).
- Combine the mixture with water.
- Fill an ice-cube tray or ice lolly moulds.
- Pop the treats in the freezer!
You can experiment with your dog’s favourite foods to create a frozen treat they love!
Keep Your Dog Well Groomed
There’s nothing more ‘cool’ than a well-groomed dog… It’s true! Keeping your dog’s coat in good condition will help to keep them cool and comfortable during the hot weather, particularly if they are a hairy breed.
As the temperature rises, your dog will shed more hair, and while much of it ends up stuck to your carpet, furniture and clothes (sigh), some will stay on your dog, trapped within their coat and insulating heat. Besides removing loose hair, regular grooming helps to prevent painful knots which are particularly uncomfortable during hot weather.
Support Dog Rescue Centres This Summer!
Dog rescue centres up and down the UK need your help this summer!
Try your luck in the DoggyLottery and support the vital work of dog rescue centres. For just £1.50 per week, you could be in with the chance of winning a fantastic cash prize while helping to provide much-needed funds for needy dogs.