How to Keep Your Dog Cool this Summer
And just like that…it’s summer!
For some the best time of the year, for others a dreaded occurrence, the hottest of the four seasons is here.
As days get longer, the sun shines brighter, and our summery clothes timidly peep out from wardrobes and storage boxes, more of us enjoy spending more time outdoors, engaging in all those outdoor activities we have longed for since last September.
Picnics, pub gardens, majestic walks in nature, swimming in the sea (or the river)…you name it! Summer is all about the fun.
But as well as having a great time when the weather gets sunnier and hotter, we also need to be mindful of keeping our dogs cool and safe in the heat.
Indeed, with temperatures rising, so does the risk of heatstroke.
Heatstroke is a very serious and life-threatening condition that occurs when the body gets too hot and can no longer control and regulate its temperature.
Luckily, we can take a few precautions to reduce the risk of overheating and heatstroke.
In this blog, I walk you through my top tips to help you care for your dog in the heat, so that you can enjoy the summer whilst keeping your dog happy and safe.
Adjust your walking routine.
Dogs don’t only suffer in hot cars. Exercise-induced heatstroke can also be potentially fatal. Avoid going out during the hottest hours of the day to reduce the risk of your dog becoming unwell on a walk, and consider walking early in the morning or late in the evening instead.
Avoid strenuous activities such as ball chasing, running, or cycling with your dog. A gentler stroll is a much better and safer alternative to repetitive and high-energy movements.
Protect your dog’s paws.
Your dog’s paws are very delicate, and we want to keep them in tip-top condition. Avoid walking on hot surfaces such as tarmac or sand to prevent your dog’s paws from burning.
Go all-in with the shade!
Where you walk will also have an impact on your dog’s body temperature. Shaded and cooler areas such as woods and parks will be much better than built-up areas or beaches with no shelter. This can also help prevent your dog from getting sunburnt. Indeed, dogs can get burnt too, and it’s important to avoid that by keeping them out of direct sunlight and using dog-safe sunscreen.
Provide fresh water – at all times.
Make sure fresh water is always available to your dog, whether at home, in your garden, or out on a walk. These days there are a lot of portable bowls or bottles on the market, which make taking water out with you extremely easy.
Never leave your dog in the car.
Cars are heat traps, and staying cool in your vehicle can be challenging, even with aircon on and windows down. Avoid any unnecessary car journeys, especially the long ones. And if you have to travel in the car, plan your trip to make it easier and safer for your dog. For example, you might want to travel during the coolest hours of the day, avoid congested areas, and identify appropriate areas for stops and breaks along the journey.
Focus on calmness and relaxation.
What a perfect opportunity to practise some calmness in the house – how about a relaxing session of settle training?
Prepare kongs and lickimats.
Stuffing your dog’s kong with their favourite food or spreading part of their meals on their lickimat is a great way to keep them busy, entertained, and mentally stimulated on a hot day. The great thing about kongs and lickimats is that you can also freeze them in advance to turn them into an extra refreshing treat.
And if your dog loves a good chew, you can soak a rope toy in something like chicken broth, freeze it, and give it to your dog. Frozen carrots and ice cubes can also be an excellent cooling option.
Keep your house cool.
To keep your house cool in a heatwave, you can think about closing blinds and curtains, closing sun-facing windows and doors, using fans, and placing wet towels and cooling mats on the floor for your dog.
Let your dog snooze!
Nothing wrong with letting your dog sleep! The heat can make them feel more tired than usual, and it’s absolutely ok to give them a rest day.
What to Do if Your Dog is Unwell.
You must contact your vet immediately if you think your dog is overheating or suffering from heatstroke.
Signs of heatstroke can include excessive panting, excessive drooling, excessive thirst, restlessness and agitation, lethargy and weakness, confusion and disorientation, increased heart rate, bright red gums and tongue, dilated pupils, vomiting and diarrhea, collapse, and seizures.
If you suspect your dog is suffering from heatstroke, move them immediately into a cooler area and call your vet – this is an emergency, and it’s essential to act quickly.
If the temperature rises and you are in doubt, take it easy and slow everything down.
I promise that missing a walk will not pose a risk to your dog!
And if YOU decide to go under the sun, leave your dog at home, use sunscreen, and drink plenty of fluids!
Need Further Help?
If you are looking for more ideas on how to keep your dog entertained, happy and safe on hot days, drop me an email at email@example.com and let’s get chatting!
This blog has been brought to you by Giulia, the owner of My Kinda Dog and a qualified and experienced dog trainer covering Bristol and surrounding areas.
She offers private dog training sessions and scentwork classes.
Giulia is passionate about helping people understand, communicate, train and thrive with their dogs.
You can see her here with Ruby, her beloved canine companion.