When the summer comes, your dog can not only get hot and bothered but is also at risk of potentially fatal heatstroke. Keeping cool is vital.
Pale coloured dogs, dogs with little or no pigment (very pink areas of skin) or dogs with a short thin coat are particularly susceptible to sunburn, especially around ears, noses and areas with less hair. As with people, the best advice is to stay out of the sun when it is at its strongest, between 11am and 3pm. You can put a light t-shirt on them to keep them covered, but make sure this isn’t going to contribute to overheating. You can also apply a non-toxic waterproof human sunblock or one specifically made for pets.
Heatstroke in Dogs
Dogs can succumb to heatstroke in minutes. You should avoid walking your dog(s) during the hottest part of the day (around lunchtime) and check the temperature of the pavement before walking as they can burn their pads. Dogs with heavy or double coats should not be walked during the day at all during hot weather, such as huskies, Malamute, shepherd breeds etc. Instead, keep walks to early in the morning or in the evening once the temperature has dropped. Dogs should have constant access to cool fresh water.
Signs of heatstroke in dogs include excessive panting, drooling and collapsing. If you suspect your dog is suffering from heatstroke, move them to a cool place, wet their coat with cool – not freezing – water, and contact your vet immediately. Once a dog shows signs of heatstroke, the damage is often already done, which is why it’s so important to prevent it.
Never leave your dog in the car, even if it doesn’t seem too warm, regardless of whether windows are open or fans/air con are on.
REMEMBER: NEVER EVER LEAVE YOUR DOG ALONE IN THE CAR EVEN FOR A MOMENT, EVEN WITH THE WINDOWS OPEN/FANS/AIR CON ON
Whilst on walks in warmer weather, you should keep a close eye on your dogs and watch for signs of over-heating. If you think your dog is struggling, find a shady spot to stop and give your dog water.
How to help your dog stay cool
Treat your dog to a dip with a paddling pool set up in the shade filled with cool, but not freezing cold, water. Make sure to fill it only to a level that means your dog isn’t out of their depth and can easily stand up and get out.
Cooling mats and ice packs
To keep your dog cool inside the house, there is a wide range of specially designed cooling mats available to buy which may either need to be frozen or have self-cooling technology. Freezer blocks or pads, or even frozen bottles of water, well wrapped in a towel and placed in your dog’s bed will have a similar effect.
Wet a towel in cool water and drape over your dog’s back. This will really help with lowering body temperature and will help if suspect your dog is suffering from heatstroke whilst getting them to the vet. Don’t leave it on once it has warmed up as it will have the opposite effect.
Make ice cubes or lollies with your dog’s favourite treat inside or stuff a Kong and pop it into the freezer. Frozen carrots or apple slices are also a healthy tasty snack for a hot day.
If your dog has a favourite toy that’s always in their mouth, pop it in the freezer for a quick cooling fix.
Filling a spray bottle with cool water and regularly misting your dog will help keep their body temperature down. For some dogs, this can be stressful so do not do this to any fearful or nervous dogs. If your dog seems upset when you do this, please do not repeat.
Plan your walks
Take your dog out for walks at the coolest times of the day – early morning or late evening. Taking them for a walk in strong sun on a hot day can put them at risk of burning their paws on hot pavements as well as overheating/heatstroke.
Make sure your dog always has access to fresh, cool water – including when you are out on a walk. If you are spending time out in the garden, make sure they have a bowl of water there too, out of direct sunlight.
REMEBER: If you are worried about your dog having sun-stroke, contact your vet immediately.