How to keep your dog cool in Summer...
If your dog is suffering due to the heat it’s extremely important that you try to make her comfortable, because dogs cannot sweat or lose heat very easily the way we do and so they’re very susceptible to collapse due to overheating, which requires immediate attention from a vet and can lead to death within hours.
You may not know but dogs can only sweat via their paws and by losing heat via panting, so they can find it very difficult to cope with hot weather. The most obvious ways to protect your dog are:
1) Don’t exert your dog on hot days i.e. playing ball in the park - your dog may be keen to play, but then may suddenly collapse and could die, especially if there’s nowhere shady she can rest to cool down.
2) NEVER NEVER EVER leave your dog in a car, even with the windows open, even for just a few minutes - the heat inside a car can reach oven-like temperatures, especially if left in the sun, and any dog can die very quickly from heat stroke inside a car during Summer.
3) ALWAYS ensure your dog has immediate ready access to plentiful drinking water.
4) Always ensure that there is a cool shady place for you dog to lie if you keep your dog outside during the Summer.
5) Dogs can suffer from sunburn just as we do; especially those with little hair and with pale exposed skin - it is possible to use human sunblock creams (but you must check with your vet first to find out if the cream is suitable) - however the best precaution is to limit your dog’s exposure to full sun and to keep them out of full sun when it’s overhead.
All of the above seems obvious, but there are still many people who don’t understand how important it is to take extra care of their dog in a heatwave.
There are also additional measures you can take if your dog is still uncomfortable in a heatwave:
1) If possible clip the hair of dogs with a very thick or long coat to lighten its weight; but don’t shave it, because this can cause its own problems in Summer.
2) Keep a fan working all hours in the place where your dog likes to lie down to help cool the air temperature.
3) Ensure bedding is cool, such as cotton, and not nylon or woollen.
4) If possible provide a shallow paddling pool in the shade in the garden where your dog can cool its paws or even lie down in to help it lose heat.
5) An alternative to providing a pool is to regularly dip, bathe, or dab your dog’s paws with cool (NOT iced) water and then soak up the excess with a towel or kitchen roll, so the paws are slightly damp and can then lose heat more efficiently - this is especially important if the paws are dirty/muddy, because this prevents them sweating - paws need to be kept clean and cool in the Summer.
6) Many dogs enjoy licking an ice-lolly or ice-cream during the Summer, because this helps cool their tongue and brings relief, however too much ice-cream is fattening and can cause loose stools and tummy-ache, so try making your own dog-lollies using water and a little fruit juice frozen inside a yoghurt pot then turned out into her bowl.
7) To keep your dog’s bed really cool a very good idea is to line it with reusable gel ‘cool packs’ of the kind used by sportspeople on muscle injuries. These are easy to find in all chemists and are cheap - I bought a box of twelve for just £15.00 - you place them in the freezer (they stay soft when frozen) afterwhich you need to wrap them in cloth/towel or put each one in an old sock, and either line your dog’s bed (with a cover over them too) or use them if your dog’s overheated by stroking them over her - AVOID leaving them on your dog even if wrapped if your dog can’t move away, because you may harm her with the direct cold.
8) If it’s really hot and your dog is very uncomfortable you can give her a cool shower without soap to give her a good soaking, and then gently towel dry to leave her damp, and let your dog rest in a cool place - this will help a lot to lower her temperature.
If you use all these precautions and measures your dog should be able to keep her cool during Summer - if your dog is still uncomfortable then you need to ask your vet for advice.
PLEASE BE AWARE OF HEATSTROKE in your dog, because it can be fatal and needs to be dealt with URGENTLY by yourself and you also need to visit a vet for treatment. The signs are:
1) Your dog will not eat anything and may also be reluctant to drink.
2) Your dog is very listless and appears ‘down’ and may be limp allover.
3) Your dog may be shivering or is unsteady on her feet.
4) Your dog’s breathing may be shallow and rapid.
5) Your dog may not want to get up or move from lying down.
6) Your dog simply doesn’t seem to be herself and appears exhausted.
7) Your dog’s pads may feel very hot and dry.
If you see any of these signs in your dog during the Summer you need to act URGENTLY - carry her to a cool place - if you can’t run cool water over her then at least wet her paws (but don’t keep them submerged) - keep your dog as cool as possible by any means i.e. with a fan (but don’t use ice) - then GET HER TO A VET a.s.a.p - if your dog is seriously affected by heatstroke she may DIE very soon, so please don’t ignore it.
Heatstroke is very worrying and very upsetting if you have to deal with it, but by following my guide you can go a long way to helping you dog stay cool and help prevent heatstroke ever occurring. If in doubt or further advice is needed always speak to your vet.
Thank you for reading.