It isn’t hard to get carried away when the nice weather arrives. In between planning the inevitable barbecue, layering the sunblock on the kids and putting out the garden furniture, our dogs can sometimes get overlooked. However, it is important that we pay close attention to our furry friends on those days that the sun is out in force.
While most dogs will need our help, certain dogs are less able to cope in warm weather. This is true of puppies and elderly dogs, those who are unwell, long-furred breeds and those who are over-weight. Similarly, snub-nosed breeds such as Pugs and Shih Tzus are less tolerant of the heat.
Here are our top tips for keeping your four-legged friend cool in summer:
Sticking to the shade. While it may seem obvious, it is important to make a conscious effort to keep your dog out of direct sunlight. Frustratingly, they don’t understand how important this is and many are sun worshippers. Place their blanket or a cooling mat in a shaded spot that is well ventilated.
Timing your walks. The ideal time for a walk is early morning. This is before the ground has had time to warm up and when the air is still cool. The next best time is as the sun sets (though you’ll have a while to wait in the UK!). When very hot, use walks as an opportunity to toilet rather than a time to exercise.
Don’t let Fido overdo it. If out and about with friends in the park, your dog may get over-excited and may be keen to play for an extended time. Try to keep them settled by bringing along some Calming Treats and offering them every now and then as a reward for your dog sticking close to you.
Cool water is our friend. Paddling pools are a lovely treat to help dogs cool off. We can also freeze water and offer our pooches ice cubes throughout the day. Finally, if it is very hot, we can lay out some damp sheets (if a cooling mat is not available).
Staying hydrated. Portable pet water bottles and collapsible water bowls are a wonderful invention that allow us to keep our dogs hydrated when on the go. At home, ensure the water bowl is always topped up with fresh water and consider adding a little water to each meal.
Frozen food. No, we don’t mean you need to stock up the next time you’re in your local Iceland supermarket! You can freeze your dog’s regular Pooch and Mutt wet food inside a Kong or Lick Mat and watch their delight as they spend hours licking it just like an ice lolly. If you like, mix up flavours to pique their interest. You can also add a layer of e.g. peanut butter mixed with crumbled up Pooch & Mutt Meaty treats on top, if they’ve been extra good that day.
Sun protection. For those who need it (notably lighter skinned and short-furred breeds), doggy sun cream is available for places like the face and ears. To protect the pads, keep your dog off surfaces like roads and pavements. Instead, stick to the grass when possible.
One of the main risks during the summer is that your dog could develop Heat Stroke.
Symptoms can come on quickly and usually include:
- Heavy panting
- Glazed eyes
- Red gums.
As signs progress, your dog may collapse and act confused. It is important you take them to your nearest vet right away. On your way, try to cool your dog down as much as possible. This means having the A/C in the car on high, placing a wet towel over them and offering drinking water. Heat stroke can be fatal and the sooner a dog is treated, the better their prognosis.
With a little forward planning, your dog can enjoy the summer just as much as you. Be mindful of their needs and remember that they don’t always understand the dangers of warm weather.