The summer heat can be a serious concern for dog owners, from heatstroke to burned paws. With the weather starting to heat up, we discuss everything from temperature regulation to taking safer walks.
So keep reading as we’ll explore easy ways to keep your four-legged best friend safe and cool this season…
Know the signs of heat stroke
One of the most important things you should do for your four-legged friend during hot weather is to familiarize yourself with the signs of heatstroke, and learn exactly what to do should it occur. The signs and symptoms of heatstroke include:
- Heavy panting
- Difficulty breathing
- Drooling excessively
- Lethargy or drowsiness
- Lack of coordination
- Confusion or behaving oddly
To maximize the chances of survival, dogs suffering from heatstroke must urgently have their body temperature gradually reduced.
Act fast if you see the signs of heatstroke
All too often, people don’t take these symptoms seriously or fail to act quickly enough. To reduce the chance of fatality from heatstroke, you should take action immediately and treat it as an emergency. Here’s what to do:
- If you notice signs of heatstroke, immediately move your dog to a cool, shaded area to start performing first aid.
- Start pouring cool water over the dog straight away. Avoid cold or freezing water as this can cause shock - tap water at 60-61°F (15-16°C) is thought to be most effective.
- Avoid placing wet towels over the dog, as instead of cooling them down, they can further trap in heat and worsen the situation.
- Let them drink small amounts of water. Keep pouring cool water over them until their breathing starts to return to normal, but not too much that they start to shiver.
- Avoid pouring water over or near their head and mouth as this could cause choking or drowning, especially with smaller breeds or those with flat faces.
Once your dog has cooled down, contact your veterinarian as a matter of urgency, even if your dog appears to have recovered. It's important to seek professional help promptly after your dog has cooled down, as there may be organ damage or additional health risks needing attention.
Plan walks ahead of time
One of the most common causes of heatstroke in dogs is exercise during hot weather. In order to avoid this, it’s best to plan your walks ahead of time. Avoid the warmest part of the day when the blazing sun is beaming down, opting instead to walk during the cooler hours, such as early in the morning or later in the evening.
It’s also a good idea to opt for a shadier trail such as through woodland or in a natural park. When the weather is hot, pavements, tarmac, sand and even artificial grass can burn your dog’s paws - if you can’t hold your hand on the ground without it starting to hurt, then it’s too hot for your dog too.
Whilst it’s important to ensure your dog gets regular exercise, it isn’t worth increasing the risk of heatstroke if it’s too hot. If you can’t get outside, plan some fun indoor activities such as filling up a doggy-paddling pool in a shady part of your yard, giving them puzzle treats to keep them busy, or making frozen treats out of wet dog food.
When it comes to exercise, just remember that overexertion can lead to overheating and heatstroke, so engage in lighter activities or choose indoor exercise alternatives on exceptionally hot days.
Help keep them cool
There are a few things you can do to help ensure your dog stays cool during hot, summer days. Always make sure that your dog has cool, shady areas to rest and relax, along with access to plenty of drinking water.
Keep your dog's coat well-groomed to help them regulate their body temperature. Brushing regularly helps remove excess fur and promotes airflow to their skin - however, avoid shaving your dog's coat too short, as it can expose their skin to sunburn.
Know the requirements of their breed
It’s crucial to understand your dog's breed and their specific limitations when it comes to heat. Different dog breeds have different tolerances to high temperatures, for example, brachycephalic breeds such as Bulldogs and Pugs are particularly prone to heat-related problems.
Older dogs, puppies, and dogs with certain health conditions are more vulnerable to heat-related issues. It's important to be aware of your dog's limitations and modify their activities accordingly to ensure their well-being in hot weather.
Never leave dogs in parked cars
In the US, hundreds of dogs die each year from heatstroke or suffer irreversible organ damage after being left in hot cars. Even with air conditioning or windows cracked open, cars can rapidly reach high temperatures which can be fatal to dogs.
Whilst most dog owners would not deliberately leave their dog in a hot car, it’s often those that think their situation is an exception who find themselves in a sticky situation, such as leaving the dog for a just minute or making sure the car is cool. However, you should not leave your dog in the car on a warm day for a single minute, even if the air conditioning is left on.
Now you know how to keep your dog cool and safe this summer by recognizing the signs of heatstroke and planning walks during cooler hours, so you can enjoy the summer months with a happy and healthy pup.