10 ways to keep your dog cool this summer
Dogs can get sunstroke and other heat related illnesses causing dehydration and severe reactions even causing death. Here are a few pointers to help you mind your pet during hot days. If in doubt at any stage, do not hesitate to take your dog to your trusted veterinarian straight away, it could save their lives as heat stroke is something very dangerous.
Always make sure your dog has clean fresh water freely available, especially during hot spells. In extreme hot weather you should check more often to make sure bowls are not empty and you should also make sure the bowls are not in direct sunlight. Exposure to direct sun will heat the water and make it undrinkable for your dog.
Adequate protected shelter
Your dog should have a house or enclosure where he or she can freely go into as and when they want. Make sure that this shelter is positioned in a way that it is away from direct sun to protect it from overheating. A good idea is under the shade of a tree or pergola, or in a shed or even an awning. Of course doggies living in the house do not have this problem, but do make sure that they are able to use their point of entry – such as a pet flap in the door – any time they need to.
Ice cream treats
You can give your dog frozen foods to help cool them down. Ice blocks from the fridge, sugar free sorbet, or even frozen fruit and veg that is safe for your dog can be offered to them to lick or chew and help cool them down.
Keep your dog well brushed out. A brushed out coat acts as an insulator, helping your dog to regulate temperature and not to overheat. Make sure all the undercoat from winter has been removed and that no knots and mats are present.
No shave down in heat waves
As said above, a dog’s coat helps to protect from sunburn and overheating. The worst thing you can do is to get your dog shaved down to the bones during a hot spell. You remove all the protection that a well maintained coat offers, often causing heat stroke because the body could not regulate itself and leave the skin exposed to severe sunburn. The best advice is to get your dog shaved down before summer is at its height. If you have absolutely no choice, read our paragraph on dress code and protect your dog with a light t-shirt whenever in direct sun for up to 4 weeks.
Dogs with short hair and white coats are more prone to sunburn than dogs with longer hair or darker skins. When going out you can apply sun cream to your dog to help protect their skin. Do read the instructions first to make sure it does not contain any harmful ingredients and be careful not to apply it to their eyes or in their mouth. Make sure you apply it to the tips of the ears as well.
We recommend you do not take your dog with you if you know they have to stay behind and wait for you in the car. They are better off and safer waiting on you at home. If you absolutely have no choice, try to find a parking spot in an underground car park or in any shaded area you are able to find. Leave the windows down as far as you possibly can and do not leave them unattended for more than a couple of minutes. It is even better if you can leave the car air conditioning on. Twenty minutes is enough to kill your dog so ultimately…do not leave your dog alone in the car!
Do not dress your dog in excessively hot clothing. The less the better. Dogs with white skin and short coat can be dressed in a light t-shirt to help protect them from direct sunburn. Be mindful of hot surfaces when walking. If your dog is trained and comfortable walking with shoes, now will be the time to take out those trainers to protect their paw pads!
Do not pick the hottest part of the day to exercise your dog. Pick cooler times of the day, either first thing in the morning or last thing at night and cut down on the time you would usually use as well as the intensity. Keep a good eye on your dog for signs of fatigue and dehydration. A good tip is to put the back of your hand on the surface you plan to walk your dog. If it is to warm for you, it is too warm to let your dog walk on.
Help cool your dog down
Fun games such as a filled splash pool or making shapes with the water hose is heaps of fun and will help your dog cool down quickly. Giving them access to cool floor tiles, fans and air-conditioned rooms is also a good idea. For dogs that don’t necessarily like to play in water, the garden can be hosed down.