We all know the British summertime weather can be a bit hit and miss. In wishful anticipation for a bit of summer heat, we’ve got some tips on helping your pooch keep cool and safe. The last thing you want, whether at the local park or at the beach, is your dog suffering from potential heatstroke.
Here are the symptoms of heatstroke in dogs:
- Eyes glazed over
- Salivating more than normal and excessively
- Rapid, deep panting
- Quick pulse
- Unsteady on their feet, or a loss of coordination
The above are all signs that a dog can’t reduce their body temperature. It can happen in a matter of minutes and if left unaddressed, it can be fatal.
If you suspect potential heatstroke in your dog, try to quickly move them to a cooler, shaded area. Apply a cool, but not freezing, wet towel to their body, in particular the head and neck. Provide them with water to drink but never place a dog directly into cold water, as this can cause shock.
Once you have done this, call your vet.
As Brits, we tend to check the weather forecast a little too often. If you have a dog, then it’s wise to do this, especially before stepping outside. A little forward planning will go a long way to helping you to prepare what you and your pet need for the day.
It can be tempting to take your dog out with friends, so double check where they are planning to go. Is it inside a dog-friendly restaurant or café, or are they planning to spend time in a park with little shade?
Driving? Don’t leave your dog in your car
This is common knowledge to a lot of people, but you shouldn’t leave dogs alone in your car, for any amount of time. Regardless of whether you think you have left the vehicle ventilated enough, or it’s parked in the shade, it can be fatal.
Dogs left alone often become distressed quicker than usual, and in hot weather they will start feeling uncomfortable. Remember, 'not long' is too long.
If you see a dog in car which is not yours, you should call the police on 999. They will advise you what to do. They may be able to attend and offer their assistance or suggest that you break a window to help. If you break someone else’s car window without consent, this could be classed as a criminal act.
Keep your dog’s coat sufficiently trimmed
This is particularly important for the coats of long-haired breeds to be kept in check. A heavy coat in warm weather would be similar to how we would feel wearing a winter jacket.
Think about taking a layer off in preparation for the summer months. Matting can trap heat, so having regular grooming can help keep dogs mat free and untangled.
Think about your pet’s paws
Touch-check surfaces before your dog walks on them. Dogs regulate their body temperature partly through their paws, as they are unable to sweat like humans.
Pavements will get very hot during warm weather, so too will the sand at the beach. Touch the surface with the back of your hand before allowing your pet to walk over it. If it’s too hot for you, it’ll be too hot for them. If you do have to take your pet out on the tarmac, you could invest in some stylish dog shoes or boots.
If you’re going to take the dog for a walk, do so in the early mornings or later evenings, when it won’t be as hot, and the ground has cooled off.
Even dogs can get sunburn
Breeds with a thin coat, or dogs that have light coloured hair are more at risk of sunburn. Dogs with sparsely haired areas, as well as noses and ears are more susceptible to burning. You can find specialist sun cream for dogs at pet shops or through your vet. If you’re at the beach tanning, be sure to bring a sun umbrella to provide shade. Don’t be fooled by the ocean breeze, it may feel nice on your skin, but the sun’s rays are still penetrating.
It’s best to keep your pooch indoors when the sun is at its strongest, which is normally between 11.00am and 3.00pm.
Swimming? Here’s what to think about:
- If you’re going to let your dog cool off in the sea, make sure they are comfortable to go in. Not every dog wants to go swimming, especially if they feel uncomfortable or exhausted because of the heat.
- Even if your canine is strong in the water, waves can pull dogs under or sweep them away quickly. Mild currents can tire both small and large breeds, causing exhaustion.
- Just as for humans, salt water can be harmful for dogs. Make sure you only allow them fresh water if they need a drink.
- Remember to rinse the salt water and sand from your dog’s coat after to avoid drying out and irritating their skin.
- You may need to accompany younger dogs into the water until they are used to it.
- Make sure you check lakes and streams for hazards lurking under the water before allowing your pet near them. Algae is known to be toxic to dogs, particularly green-blue algae.
- Beware of water intoxication – this is where a dog swallows too much water in a short space of time. This often happens when a dog is swimming, and it can lead to brain damage and be fatal.
Health and wellbeing are a priority
Try to keep on top of your dog’s overall health and wellbeing, so that the risks to them remain low throughout the year. Find out what a health weight looks like for your breed and its size from your vet. Consider how much you feed your pet during warm weather, as they are likely to use up less energy when it is hotter, as they are generally less active.