British Summers tend to be all-or-nothing affairs; when they’re scorchers our furry friends really feel it, especially dogs, so I’ve put together some top tips to help keep your pet happy.
If they’re indoors keep the room as cool as possible by closing curtains or blinds and opening windows. You can switch on air conditioning if you have it to cool the room, or even put a fan in a position where your dog can benefit from its cooling breeze.
Refreshing their water frequently entices them to drink more and if you add a couple of ice cubes it will keep cooler for longer indoors. If your dogs water bowl is outside then place it in a shaded area if possible and add more ice cubes to it.
It’s well known that dogs love their food, and being savvy with it can provide your pooch with a treat that keeps them cool at the same time. Homemade bone broths are very nutritious and can be easily frozen ahead, for use when needed. You can freeze the broth in whatever size container you want, from ice cube size right up to mixing bowl size treats that your dog can lick at for several minutes.
You could semi-freeze the broth and make the Canine version of “slush puppies”, or even make “pupsicles”/ ice pops. Another idea is to pop your dogs’ favourite treat into a Kong toy and freeze it for a while. This will keep them cool whilst satisfying their love of chewing at the same time.
When it comes to exercise, the best time for walkies in the summer is early morning or late at night. These times avoid the sun at its strongest glare (11am-3pm), and concrete and tarmac surfaces are at a temperature your dog is comfortable walking on. Both Tarmac and concrete absorb heat and combined with the fact that dogs’ paws also absorb heat it can all too easily end up with a dog suffering burns to their pads. If it’s too hot for your hand on these surfaces, it’s too hot for your dogs’ paws.
Dark coats absorb more heat than light ones and obviously the sun isn’t as strong at either end of the day, so any dark brindle or black hounds will appreciate being walked at these times.
Talking of coats, long haired and thick coated breeds will feel an enormous benefit from being groomed. A simple groom will remove excess hair, but clipping fur will greatly reduce heat absorption. You can clip your dogs’ coat yourself; it’s a nice time to bond with them. Alternatively, there are some great groomers out there including our grooming room at Saint Leonard. Lesley is an experienced groomer and in her Scruffs-to-Crufts salon you can be assured that your beloved pooch is in great hands.
If you are going to have your dog clipped it’s worth bearing in mind that they can get sunburn in places where there isn’t much fur. Noses and ears can get sunburned too, so if you think your pooch is prone to burning, then slap on the sunscreen! There are specific pet sun-blocks available, but you can also use non-toxic, waterproof human ones too.
Ultimately your dogs’ comfort rests with you as the owner, so if you have a dog that really has no “off” switch when it comes to exercise then keep them on a leash or limit the length of time they have to play. Over exertion in the heat will lead to them becoming hyperthermic (too hot), and it
really doesn’t take long at all for dogs to reach this state, so please keep a close eye on your beloved pet.
Keeping your hound hydrated is vitally important in the heat, so always carry some water with you when you’re out and about together. Watch out for dehydration, and remember that although dogs can sweat their ability to do so is poor; panting is their main way to keep cool and remove surplus heat from their bodies. An over-heated dog will drool excessively, losing even more water from its body.
In extreme cases dogs can get heatstroke; they become lethargic, their tongues become excessively red, eyes may appear bloodshot, and the skin loses its elasticity (if you pinch a fold, it will take longer to rebound to its normal state). Heatstroke can be fatal so you must take steps immediately to cool your dog if you think they have this condition. Cover the entirety of the dogs’ body in wet towels as this will cool them without shocking their bodies, and entice them to drink (cool but not ice cold water, again to avoid shock to the body). Put them in the shade and contact us here at Saint Leonard Veterinary Centre straight away.
“Cool Coats” and “Cool Pads” are available commercially to buy, and can provide another method of keeping your pet comfortable in hot environments.
Dogs like to play in water, even if they don’t want to go the whole hog and swim in it. Find a shady spot, or put up a Gazebo, and fill a paddling pool for your dog to laze in. Don’t overfill it so that your dog is unable to stand up in it as dogs can drown, believe it or not. Garden sprinklers and hoses can also be a fun way to keep your dog cool in the heat. If you use wet towels to cool your pet they are far more effective used underneath them rather than lying on top of furry backs; although in cases of suspected sunstroke as mentioned earlier, cover the entire body in them. A simple spray of their paws and/or tummies with cold water is also a great, and quick, way to keep them cool.
Obviously swimming keeps your pooch fit and healthy whilst also being cooling, but make sure the water is clean. Some Algae, including Blue-Green Algae, is toxic to dogs so if you suspect they’ve swum in (and probably drunk) contaminated water, contact us immediately.
Lastly, and it really should go without saying, NEVER leave your dog in a parked car on warm days. Cars retain more heat than an open space, even in the shade, and quickly become like saunas for furry bodies. Cars quickly become unbearably hot for us humans in the sun; multiply this tenfold and you get an idea of how a dog would suffer.
Remember that we are only a phone call away here at Saint Leonard if you ever need us, whatever your concern or query. Until next time; Stay Safe, Stay Well, and have fun (safely) in the sun!