With May now behaving itself and the sun is out, our canine companions can often struggle with the heat and there are a number of risks to them. However, with careful planning our dogs can enjoy the summer with us.
How to keep your dog cool?
There are many ways you can help your dog stay cool in hot weather, these tips also help to cool down a dog if they are too hot:
Encourage them to stay in shaded areas and away from direct sunlight. If you are putting an artificial shade up for them, like a tent or shade, make sure there is plenty of air circulation to avoid overheating.
Damp towels to lie on are simple but effective – no need for expensive cooling mats! Alternatively, fill a hot water bottle with cold water.
Put the garden sprinkler on or keep a paddling pool in the shade for them to splash about in
NEVER leave dogs in cars
This should be obvious but leaving a dog alone in a hot car can be fatal – even parked in the shade with the windows open, dogs can become distressed and uncomfortable very quickly. Make sure you always have a plan so your dog isn't left alone in the car or any other enclosed spaces.
If you see a dog in a hot car, dial 999.
Water, water and more water!
It's important to ensure your dog has access to plenty of clean drinking water all year round, but especially in the summer. If you're out and about with your dog, ensure you always have a bottle of water and a bowl for them. If you can, pop some ice cubes in before you leave home, or use a thermal flask, to keep the water cool.
Exercise when it’s hot?
Pavements, tarmac, sand etc all become extremely hot during warmer weather and hold the heat. Hot surfaces can really hurt your dog's foot pads. Try to keep walks to early mornings or evenings, and if you are unsure, put the palm of your hand on the surface for a few seconds. If these surfaces feel too hot for you, the chances are they are too hot for your dog.
You can also try introducing new games that don't involve too much running around. Hide toys or treats and let your dog sniff them out
Use toys or treats to encourage your dog into a shaded paddling pool
Freeze food or use special food puzzles to keep your dog stimulated without too much exertion
General Doggy Care which will help …
· Regular grooming and/or clipping will keep your dog's coat clean, free of knots and cooler. This is important as matting can trap heat.
· Just like humans, dogs are at risk of burning in the sun if they're not protected – especially lightly coloured or thinly coated dogs. But the good news is you can pick up specially formulated sun cream for dogs at most pet shops. If you're unsure whether your dog needs sun cream, ask your vet.
If you are still concerned your dog may be suffering from heatstroke …
Heatstroke develops when a dog can't reduce their body temperature and it can be fatal. Signs of heatstroke include:
A rapid pulse
Lack of coordination
Vomiting or diarrhoea
Loss of consciousness
If you think your dog has heatstroke, you need to act fast. Take them to a cool, shaded area. Apply towels soaked in cold water to their head, neck and chest and let them drink water or lick an ice cube. Never place them directly into ice cold water or give them too much to drink as they may go into shock. Always consult your vet if your dog still appears unwell.