With summer in sight, most of us look forward to those sunny, hot days and a tipple in the garden.
But unlike us, our dogs can’t regulate their body temperature as easily. They use panting to release heat, but in extreme temperatures our canine friends can quickly become overheated and even suffer heatstroke.
So to keep your dog safe and well this summer, they need a helping hand from us owners. Here’s how to tell if your dog is overheating and what you can do to keep your dog comfortable and happy in the blazing heat this summer.
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How to tell if your dog is too hot
When the weather’s very warm, always keep an eye on your dog to note any signs of overheating. Warnings your dog might be too hot include heavy panting, excessive drooling, dry and pale gums, an erratic pulse, lethargy, staggering, diarrhoea and vomiting.
If your dog displays any of the above symptoms and they don’t seem right in themselves, cool them down using one of the methods below or call your vet for advice.
How to keep a dog cool in summer
A cooling mat will give your dog somewhere cool to sprawl out when they’re feeling a little warm. With most cooling mats there’s no electricity required and you don’t need to place it in the freezer. The gel inside starts cooling down as soon as your dog puts pressure on the mat. Easy to carry around with you if you’re relaxing in the garden or going for a picnic in the park.
Soak a towel in cold water
A great homemade cooling aid is simply soaking an old towel in cold water. Either spread it out on the floor for your dog to lay on as a makeshift cooling mat, or drape it over your dog’s back. If you drape the towel over your dog’s back, make sure the towel is damp at all times. If it dries out it can have the opposite effect and act like a blanket.
A cooling jacket is essentially a smart version of the towel idea. You wet the coat, wring it out and fit it on your dog. The coat stays damp and helps regulate your dog’s body temperature for around 5 hours before you need to wet the coat again.
Homemade pupsicles are a tasty, refreshing treat to give your dog on a hot day. You can blend fresh fruit and freeze in an ice cube tray. Freeze chicken broth with a treat sticking out, or freeze a mix of yoghurt, peanut butter and water. You may like to give my 5 frozen dog treat recipes a whirl.
Freeze a toy
Freezing a wet chew toy or plush toy can make for some great relaxed play time. While your dog chews they’ll also be getting a cool water supply and inadvertently keep themselves hydrated.
Freeze a Kong
Kongs can be filled with all sorts of delicious treats, but on a hot day there’s nothing better than popping them in the freezer and giving them to your dog to cool off. By freezing your Kong they’ll also last a lot longer and keep them occupied for a good half hour. Here’s a few Kong recipes you might like to try.
Make a cool water bottle
Keep your dog’s bed cool with a frozen 2 litre water bottle. Simply fill it with water, freeze and then wrap it in a tea towel. Place it in your dog’s bed to give them a cool spot to curl up next to on muggy nights.
Let it blow
A simple fan can work wonders to cool a warm pooch. When it’s particularly hot, it can sometimes feel like you’re blowing around hot air. If you but a frozen water bottle or bowl of ice cubes in front of the fan, this will circulate cooler air and offer better relief for your dog.
Keep your home cool
Be sure to let the air circulate in your home by opening the windows (or if you’re lucky enough) turning on the air con. If the sun blares through your windows all day, consider closing the curtains in one room to keep the area cooler.
Keep water topped up
Check on Fido’s water bowl regularly to keep your dog hydrated. I recently found this nifty water bottle gadget that automatically fills the water bowl throughout the day so you don’t need to worry about running dry. Genius idea and could be worth a try!
Add ice cubes to your dog’s water bowl
Throw a few ice cubes into your dog’s bowl to keep the water cool.
If your garden is a sun trap, give your dog a break from the blazing sun by setting up a doggy tent or a sun umbrella. I found this gorgeous teepee which I must admit will be added to my own wish list!
Exercise in cooler weather
Avoid taking your dog for a walk between 12pm and 3pm when the sun is at it’s hottest. Leave walkies to early morning and late evening.
Carry the essentials
If you’re taking Fido for a walk on a warm day, always carry a water bottle and a collapsible dish to tackle dehydration. We love these bowls and they’re lightweight and easy to clip onto a bag.
Avoid hot pavements
Before heading out, always check the temperature of the pavements with your hand. If it’s too hot to hold your hand on the floor for 5 seconds, it’s too hot for your dog’s paws.
If the pavements are still too hot for your dog to walk on in the evening, consider using booties to protect their paws.
Groom your dog
Single coated dogs will benefit from a hair cut to keep them a little cooler. But if your dog is double coated, don’t clip them. The coat that helps keep them warm in winter also keeps them cool in summer by acting as an insulator. Instead, brush your dog’s coat free from mats and tangles to improve air circulation and keep them comfortable.
Fill a paddling pool
Get a paddling pool for toddlers to give your dog a cool place to flop or dip their paws when they’re feeling too warm.
Bobbing for peas
If your dog’s not a water baby and needs a little encouragement, throw a few frozen peas in the paddling pool to hook their interest. Bobbing for peas will keep them hydrated and is a great brain game too!
Never leave your dog in a parked car
Shockingly, over 40% of people think it’s ok to leave a dog in a hot car according to the RSPCA. The charity received almost 8,000 calls about dogs overheating last year. So if this post stops just one person from leaving their dog in a hot car, I’ll be happy. So the message is, never leave your dog in a parked car on a hot day. In just 10 minutes temperatures can rise to life-threatening highs and could cause your dog to suffer heatstroke.
Well there you have it – 20 easy ways to help your dog stay cool this summer. I hope these tips help you take care of your furry friend. The hot weather can really take its toll on our pooches, so it pays to have a few cooling aids to hand.
How does your dog cope during the warmer months? Have you found any smart tricks to stop your dog overheating? Share your suggestions in the comments below or over on Twitter and Facebook.
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7 ways to keep your dog safe and happy on car journeys
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Photo credit: MDreibelbis on Visual Hunt / CC BY
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