Most of us love it when temperatures soar, but dogs can struggle in hot weather. Here’s how to keep dogs cool in the summer months.
Summer can mean long days with high temperatures and a lack of shade. Knowing how to keep your dog cool will help make sure your four-legged friend stays safe, healthy and happy.
There are also the dangers attached to leaving dogs in hot cars, even for a short length of time, and the risk of heat stroke.
Fortunately, there are some simple things you can do to prevent your canine companion from feeling the heat too much.
How to keep dogs cool:
1. Provide plenty of shade. Always make sure your dog has somewhere to lie in the shade. If finding shade is a struggle, consider investing in an inexpensive pet canopy or set up a gazebo.
2. Keep them hydrated. It’s important to keep your dog’s water bowl topped up with cool, fresh water at all times. According to the RSPCA you can also add some ice cubes to their water bowl if it’s particularly hot and encourage them to drink more by raising the bowl off the floor. If you want to try something different, consider making some dog-friendly frozen treats.
3. Put out the paddling pool. There’s nothing better than a dip in the water on a hot day and it’s no different for dogs. Just make sure the water’s not too deep for them.
4. Give them ice pads. Wrap some ice packs in towels for them to lie against to help them cool down. Damp towels will also do the trick.
5. Keep them well groomed. Excess fur will make it harder for your dog to cool down on a hot day. A trip to the grooming salon and regular brushing will help.
6. Consider pet sun cream. Dogs can get sunburnt too. Put sun cream on their nose and the tips of their ears, as well as other exposed parts of their skin. Just make sure the cream you’re using is safe for pets.
7. Keep them out of the conservatory and other hot spots. Temperatures can rise rapidly in conservatories so keep these areas closed in hot weather to stop them wandering in.
8. Never leave a dog in a car. Even when the outside temperature appears to be a reasonable level, it can get much hotter inside a car. You may have parked in the shade and left the windows open, but it’s still extremely dangerous for a dog.
Knowing how to keep your dog cool will help make sure your four-legged friend stays safe, healthy and happy.
Heat stroke in dogs
Dogs in hot weather can suffer from associated health issues, particularly heat stroke.
Unlike humans, dogs can’t get rid of excess body heat by sweating. Instead they do it through panting – although sometimes this isn’t enough to stop them overheating.
Signs of heat stroke in dogs:
- Heavy panting
- Excessive drooling
- Signs of distress
- Foaming at the mouth
- Red gums
- Increased heart rate
- Lack of coordination
- Tremors or seizures
Older and very young dogs are more at risk of suffering heat stroke, along with obese dogs and breeds with flat faces and short noses, such as pugs, boxers and bulldogs.
Treating heat stroke in dogs
If a dog is suffering from heat stroke, you need to lower their temperature gradually to avoid the risk of shock.
- Move them to a cool, shaded area
- Call a vet immediately
- Encourage them to drink water
- Spray them with cool, not cold, water
- Use wet towels or a fan to cool them down
How to keep your dog safe in the car
If you’re travelling in the car with your dog in hot weather, it’s important to make sure they don’t overheat.
Dogs can die in hot cars, so keep them safe by following these tips:
- Take breaks. Be sure to have a supply of fresh water with you and make regular stops so your dog can have a drink.
- Never leave your dog in the car alone. Even when the outside temperature appears to be a reasonable level, it can get much hotter inside a parked car – making it extremely dangerous for a dog.
- Parking in the shade is not enough. Even with the windows open and parked in the shade, a car is still a dangerous place for a dog to be left.
If a member of the public spots a dog left alone in a car and believes they are in danger or distress, they are advised to call 999.
The police may notify the RSPCA and could also break into the car to free the dog if they feel it is necessary.
Walking your dog in hot weather
Unlike us, dogs cannot sweat through their skin – so when they overheat it can be fatal.
- Our canine friends release heat through their paw pads and noses to regulate their body temperature, so it’s worth thinking about how best to give them exercise during warmer weather.
- Walk at cooler times of the day. Take your dog for a walk in the morning before it gets too hot, or late at night when the temperature has cooled down.
- Check the pavement. A dog’s paws can easily get burnt on a hot pavement. A good way to test whether it’s too hot or is with the back of your hand. Walking on the grass or through fields can be kinder to paws in warm weather.
How to keep a dog cool inside the house
If your dog's looking hot and distressed inside the house, there are several things you can do to help them cool down.
- Let some fresh air in. Open the windows and doors to let the fresh air flow through and keep the house from feeling stuffy.
- Mist their paws with cool water. Dogs can control their inner temperature through their feet. Spraying water on their paws or dipping them in a tub of cold water helps cool them down.
How to keep your dog cool at night
As heat rises, dogs will be much cooler if they sleep downstairs at night. Tiled or laminate flooring makes a big difference as it gives them a nice cool surface to sleep on.
Always make sure your dog also has access to fresh water as they may need to get a drink during the night.
By following these tips, you’ll be able to help your dog keep cool during the warmer weather.
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