Keeping your dog cool during the hot weather is all about preparing and planning for the hot weather in advance. Dogs can’t handle warm weather the same way humans and other animals can. They can go from seeming completely fine to suffering from heatstroke in a matter of minutes. In this blog, we will be sharing our team’s best tips for keeping your pooch happy and healthy this summer.
How To Keep A Dog Cool At Home
One of the easiest ways to keep your dog cool is keeping them at home! This way, you are able to provide a set-up designed to keep them cool during the hot weather. This set-up can include, but is not limited to:
- Setting up a shaded area in the garden for your dog: If your garden has it, dedicating a shaded area to your dog is the best way to encourage them to stay out of the sun. They still get to enjoy the garden, without the risk of getting too hot!
- Cooling mats or damp towels: Cooling mats are a great way to keep your dog cool during the summer months. Cooling mats are specifically designed to lower your dogs body temperature and prevent them from overheating. They also don’t require any electricity, so may be cheaper than a fan! However, if your dog is a chewer, we would recommend using a cold, damp towel instead, as some of the cooling mats have cooling gel or crystals in, which may make your dog unwell if they bit into it.
- Doggy paddling pool: A great, and admittedly fun way to keep your dog cool is to invest in a doggy paddling pool for your back garden! You can place it in the shade and fill it with water for your dog to drink from, as well as play in. This is a great way to keep your furry friend cool on a hot day.
- Get the fan blowing on them: A fan is a great investment for British summers. They can keep the whole family cool! But, if you’re going out or not using it for a while, it could be worthwhile placing it so that it can help your pooch get their afternoon snooze in without risk of overheating.
Another way that you can keep your dog cool during the hot weather is to focus on enrichment, rather than standard exercise. Taking your dog for a walk or two a day is the usual way to keep them well-exercised and tired out, without becoming bored and destructive. However, during hot weather, this can lead to your dog overheating.
However, dogs still need stimulation, to prevent bored and destructive behaviour. The last thing you need is your dog digging up your lawn or chewing your brand new shoes because they’ve had no enrichment during the hot weather!
Try Enrichment Instead
In order to combat this we would recommend thinking of ways that you can enrich your dog, without putting them at risk. If you’re struggling for ideas, we would recommend some of the below for some inspiration:
- Frozen treats: Giving your dog some frozen treats can keep them entertained for a while, as well as keeping them cool! However, tempting as it may be, we wouldn’t recommend giving your fur-baby the same frozen goodies that we have. It’s much more fun to make your own dog-friendly frozen treats. That way, you can keep your dog cool without upsetting their tummy from too much sugar or dairy!
- Playing games with their food: Bowls are no fun for dogs. We all know dogs love their food, so why not make meal-times a bit more fun? We would recommend investing in a puzzle mat to keep your dog entertained at meal times. This way, they can be dragged out over a longer period of time and your dog can get enrichment from trying to find their food hidden in the mat! You can also make your own puzzle mats, following guides like this.
- Play time with toys: A simple, yet effective way to enrich your dog without taking them on a walk is to play with them! A couple of rounds of fetch in the garden is more than enough to tire your dog out on a hot day, as they will tire out faster due to the heat. Even playing tug-of-war with them for 5 minutes or so will provide them with all of the enrichment they need.
- Teach them new tricks: Another way you can provide enrichment for your dog, without exercise, is by teaching them some new cool tricks! A great way to show off how trained your dog is, while building on your relationship with your dog and bonding with them even more.
Never Leave Dogs In Cars
One thing you should never do as a dog owner, is leave your dog unattended in your car. Many people still believe it’s ok to leave a dog in a car on a warm day, if the windows are left open or they’re parked in the shade. But the truth is, it’s still a very dangerous situation for the dog.
A car can become as hot as an oven very quickly. This is even the case when it isn’t extremely warm outside. When it’s 22 degrees, in a car it can reach an unbearable 47 degrees within the hour. We would always recommend leaving y0ur dog at home, rather than bringing them in the car and then leaving them unattended.
Protecting Your Dog When Outdoors
It sounds obvious, but protecting your dog from heatstroke when you are outdoors is extremely important! We would always say that if you are in doubt about taking your dog outdoors in the heat, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
This includes not walking your dog if you think it’s too warm for them. A great way to test whether it is too warm to take your dog out is testing asphalt. The general rule-of-thumb is that if the pavements are too hot for your hand to stand, then it would be too hot for your dogs paw pads! Dogs have extremely sensitive paw pads, and the last thing you would want is for them to get burnt on concrete.
Another way you can protect your dog when walking them outdoors would be to walk them on grass rather than on concrete. The grass is cooler on their paws and means they are not at risk of burning their paws. We would also recommend walking your dog in shady, wooded areas. They are much less likely to overheat being walked in the shade compared to the sun beating down on them for the duration of their walk.
Pro tip: Make sure you walk your dog near a stream or river. Dogs will cool their bellies if they feel they are getting too warm, and it tends to be safe for them to drink from running water, which can also keep them cool on a walk. If in doubt though, take some water and a collapsible bowl for your dog to drink from!
Heatstroke In Dogs: What To Look Out For
Even though you can follow all the guides and advice listed above, the truth is that sometimes the heat may just be too much for your dog. Unlike humans, dogs regulate their body temperature through panting. When panting isn’t enough, a dog’s body temperature rises, and they can experience heat stroke. This can become fatal if not treated immediately.
We wanted to share some of the most important signs to look out for. The most telling symptom of heat stroke in dogs is excessive panting, but you may also notice the below:
- Reddened gums
- Mental dullness
- Loss of consciousness
- Uncoordinated movement
What should I do if I think my dog has heatstroke?
Heatstroke in dogs can indicate a serious medical problem and cause unseen problems. This can include swelling of the brain, kidney failure, intestinal bleeding and abnormal clotting of blood. For this reason, immediate veterinary care is highly recommended.
However, you can follow the below if you think your dog has heatstroke, until you get to a veterinarian:
- Remove the dog from the hot environment immediately.
- Do not give the dog aspirin to lower its temperature and can lead to other problems.
- Let your dog drink as much cool water as they want without forcing them to drink.
- Cool your dog off with cold water by placing a soaked towel on their back.
The most important advice that we would recommend to protect your dog during the summer months is that:
No dog has ever died from missing one walk, but dogs have died from one walk in hot weather.