Top tips to keep your dog cool in summer

It really does appear that summer has arrived in good old Blighty! With temperatures set to soar this week, here are my top 5 tips to help you and your dogs keep cool and safe.

1. Don’t think that you *have* to walk your dog when it’s this hot.

Going without a walk won’t harm your dog, whereas taking them for a walk in the heat will.

Remember, unlike us, dogs can’t sweat to cool down. Their main way to cool down and regulate their temperature is by panting (They do have some sweat glands in the pads of their paws which help dissipate heat, but only minimally). This is especially important for puppies and older dogs, as they will struggle more to regulate their body temperature.

2. Provide and ensure easy access to water, at all times.

I have several water bowls dotted all over the house, when it’s this warm, and also have water bowls in shaded areas of the garden.

3. Make some frozen ‘dogsicles’

Freezing favourite treats, like whole hot dogs, making ice-cubes flavoured with no-salt stock cubes, or stuffing and freezing Kongs with a variety of suitable fillings (yogurt, cooked chicken in broth, wet food, cooked fish) are great ways of helping your canine keep their cool.

 

4. If you feed dry kibble, consider switching (temporarily) to a suitable wet food.

Wet food (as the name suggests) has a higher moisture content than dry extruded kibble, and will contribute towards your dog’s water intake.

You can also freeze it in a Kong, or hollow chew toy/bone (as Ava demonstrates in the photo).

5. Make sure you have cool and shady spots for your dog to retreat to (both inside and outside the house).

Open windows, draw curtains/blinds, set up a fan to keep air moving and encourage your dog to remain in the shade.

If you have a conservatory, do not leave your dog in it (even with windows open) – conservatories can become like an oven and can prove fatal for dogs who are left alone in them.

One of Sherlock’s favourite shady spots is by the open door in our lounge! On hot days, he chooses to lie on the rug by the French doors, with his head resting on the step!

 

What to do if you suspect your dog has heatstroke?

In the case of heatstroke, prevention is better than cure. The latest scientific research information on heatstroke in dogs does NOT recommend the use of cooling jackets* and also confirms that certain breeds are more at risk of developing heatstroke (brachycephalic breeds, including the Pug and Boxer), and that dogs with dark-coloured coats** may overheat more quickly than dogs with light-coloured coats.

However, if you do suspect that your dog has heatstroke take them to the vet and use the following techniques to help cool them on the way:

  1. Offer your dog a small amount of lukewarm water to drink
  2. Move your dog to the shade
  3. Lie your dog on a cool surface
  4. Place your dog in an air conditioned car
  5. Spray or sponge your dog’s neck, belly and inner thighs with lukewarm water and using fans to circulate the air

For further information about heatstroke in dogs

Do visit the Hot Dogs – heatstroke education for dog owners website. It contains all the latest scientific research and information about heatstroke in dogs.

*The use of “cooling jackets” as a method of cooling dogs with heat illness cannot currently be recommended, as the only published data evaluating their use demonstrated a higher post-race rectal temperature in racing Greyhounds wearing cooling jackets immediately post-race, compared to those not using the jackets (McNicholl et al., 2016).

**Greyhounds with darker coloured coats, also showed a significantly greater increased in temperature post-race, than dogs with lighter coloured coats (McNicholl et al., 2016). Whilst this may be common sense, it is important to remind owners of darker coloured dogs that they may overheat faster when exercising.

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