As the weather warms up, we won’t be the only ones running to find the sunniest spot in the garden. Our furry companions often love basking in the sunshine just as much as we do, but unfortunately, too much exposure to sun, heat and summer related activities can be problematic.
Thankfully, in-house Veterinary surgeon Dr Linda Simon has some top tips and expert advice on how you can keep your pooch as safe as possible this summer.
Dog walks in hot weather can be unsafe for your pooch, so the ideal time for a walk is early morning before the ground has had time to warm up and when the air is still cool. If you’re not an early morning person, the next best time to walk your dog is when the sun starts to set, and the temperature has dropped. Walking your dog between these times can be dangerous as it is generally the hottest part of the day, making your dog susceptible to heatstroke and burning the pads of their feet on the hot pavement.
Much like humans, a lot of dogs enjoy laying out in the sun. Again, similarly to us, they can get too hot. Some dogs will know when it is time to seek shade and others won’t, so making sure there is always a shaded area available is important.
Whether you keep the door to your home open so they can wander in when they need some shade or if you can set up a tent or shaded doggy bed in the garden, a shaded area with ample water will offer a safe space for your dog to cool down. For those stubborn pups who don’t know when they’ve had too much sun, keep an eye on them and move them to a shaded area when you feel they are getting a little bit too warm!
Playing fetch on the beach is one of the best things about having a dog in the Summer, but like many things, it doesn’t come without its risks.
I’m not going to tell you to stop playing fetch on the beach, but I will advise you to limit the number of times you play. With each ball retrieval, your dog will most likely ingest a small amount of sand, and whilst it is not particularly harmful when consumed in small amounts, your pup could be in trouble if too much is consumed.
Sand is heavy, and when too much is consumed, it can compact inside your dogs' intestines, causing the intestinal tract to shut down. Due to the blockage, food and water will not be able to pass, and thus your dog is likely to show signs of being unwell fairly quickly.
Freezing your dogs’ food is a great way to keep them both cool and occupied. Try stuffing your dog’s favourite meal or Meaty Treats into a kong or spreading them onto a lick mat before popping them in the freezer. Once frozen, you can give it to your dog and watch their delight as they spend hours licking it, just like an ice lolly. Frozen bananas or carrots will go down a treat!
We all know the dangers of leaving a dog in a hot car, and ideally, we’d recommend you avoid doing it in the height of summer. However, if you must leave them for a few minutes, make sure the car is kept cool by running the AC for a little while before you leave and opening the windows enough to allow some cooler air in.
When travelling, it is also important to keep the car at a comfortable temperature for your pooch, so keep the AC running or lay a cool mat on the seat for your dog to lay on whilst you travel to your destination - of course, it goes without saying, this option should only be used if your dog is still able to be properly strapped in.
Most dogs will shed all year round, but in the lead up to summer, shedding can increase to make way for a lighter summer coat. Often without a good brush or professional groom, the loose hair will sit on your dog's body, which will keep them feeling warm.
As the weather heats up, getting your dog in for a good groom is a good way of removing all excess hair and will aid in keeping them cooler in the summer sun.
Dogs are a lifelong investment when it comes to things such as food, vet bills, treats and toys, but it doesn’t stop there. Making sure they are safe and comfortable in the summer can be an investment of its own and one that I would highly recommend.
Of course, there are other things you can do to keep your dog cool, many of which are mentioned above, but having other options on hand is never a bad thing. Cool mats or vests are a great investment, especially for those dogs that insist on laying out in the sun, pop them on one of these, and they can enjoy basking in the sun without overheating too quickly.
Portable water bowls/bottles are another great investment, whether for your morning or evening walk or for those summer car journeys to the seaside. Keeping your dog hydrated is so important, so having a way of doing this with ease and on the go is a worthwhile investment!
Possibly the most important tip of them all is knowing the signs of heatstroke. If your dog falls victim to heatstroke, it could be fatal, so knowing when your dog is suffering could be the difference between life or death.
The first common sign of heatstroke in dogs is excessive panting and drooling Other symptoms might include reddened gums, vomiting, diarrhoea, signs of confusion, uncoordinated movement, collapse and, in worse cases, seizures. If your dog exhibits any of these symptoms, getting them to the nearest veterinary practice straight away will ensure the best possible outcome.