Keeping your dog cool in summer
Summer is here and the Fahrenheit is rising, but while it’s tough on you and me, dogs can really struggle in the heat.
Our furry friends don’t have sweat glands the size of ours, for one, and have to make do with heat extraction through their paws. The other way they cool down is by panting a lot, but when they’ve got a hot fur coat to contend with as well, that’s not always enough.
Warning signs include excessively red gums, thick saliva and a very high body temperature.
Dogs at risk include Shih-Tzus, boxers and French bulldogs, all of whom have faces that prevent proper cooldown through panting. Dogs with dark coats and dogs with a lot of fat are also at risk.
But in reality, all dogs can suffer from heatstroke.
With that in mind, what are some good tips to keep in mind to reduce the likelihood of it happening?
Tip #1: Reserve exercise for the mornings or evenings
If the sun is blazing hot, there’s absolutely no reason to exercise your dog in the middle of the day. Favor early mornings when the sun is low or evenings when the sun is on its descent. Also, choose a spot with plenty of shade.
Tip #2: Test the heat of the road and the pavement
If the road’s too hot for your hand or your bare feet, it’s too hot for your dog as well.
Tip #3: Give your dog a break
Even if his tail’s wagging and he wants to keep going, give him a break from fetching that tennis ball. Dogs often get so caught up in the fun of the game they don’t realize they’re straining themselves.
Tip #4: Never lock your dog in a car
No animal should ever have to sit inside a car while you’re off shopping, but a dog is particularly vulnerable. Irrespective of whether your car is in a shady spot or not, heat builds up incredibly quickly in a confined space.
Tip #5: Keep the water bowl topped up regularly
It goes without saying that water is important, but in summer, you should keep the bowl topped up at all times. An overheating dog can be hard to tell apart from one that’s simply panting as it would normally. Prevent any unpleasant surprises by topping up a bowl inside the house and leaving one outside too – in the shade, mind.
Tip #6: Why not try a fan?
If your dog has a spot they like to rest in, set up a fan and direct the breeze towards them here.
Tip #7: Look to invest in a cooling coat
Cooling coats fit around your dog’s back and tummy. Simply submerge the coat in water for 5 minutes, then fit it around his body.
Manufacturers claim it’ll cool the blood flowing through his arteries, enabling rapid cooldown.
When it comes to brands, you’re spoilt for choice, and there are enough sizes to fit a dog of any description.
Tip #7: Consider a paddling pool
Dogs love pools and they’ll take to a paddling pool instantly, provided the water isn’t freezing cold. Cold is fine, but it shouldn’t be so icy that your pup is sent in to shock. Keep the water high enough that your dog can enjoy a good soaking, but not so high that they struggle to get out the pool.
If they’re not too keen to get in, at least wet their paws in the water. As we mentioned above, dogs cool off through the glands in their paws, so this is an effective tactic.
Finally, see if you can’t get them interest in the garden sprinkler! It’s quick and works a treat.