How Can I Cool my Dog Down This Summer?
With the rising summer temperatures, comes the worry of hot cars, boiling pavements, and dogs overheating. However, you can prepare for the risks and protect your furry friends. You may be wondering; what are the symptoms of doggy heatstroke? How can I cool down my dog? What summer planning tips can I use to help my dog? Your dog is part of the family and deserves as much summer and heat protection as possible, so here is how you can look after your best friend in summer.
Doggy heatstroke symptoms:
Did you know that dogs are poor at managing their body heat? Because of their year-round coats, they have fewer ways to cool down, and panting, meagre amounts of sweating from their paw pads and their limited abilities to vasodilate aren’t always enough. If you’re worried about your dog getting heatstroke, it is essential to start cooling them down and get them to a vet. Heatstroke can be fatal, but the earlier they’re seen by a vet and treated, the more likely they will survive.
Early symptoms of heatstroke in dogs:
- Heavy panting when still
- Paws hot to the touch
- Higher heart rate
If you recognise any of these symptoms in your dog, immediately take action to cool them down and call a vet.
Advanced symptoms of heatstroke in dogs:
- Very rapid and possibly irregular heart rate
- Tiredness and unwilling to move
- Pale gums
At this stage, your dog is in danger – getting them to a vet is imperative. Dogs of any breed, age or size are susceptible to heatstroke, but if they have health issues like being overweight or older, have long or thick fur, or have breathing difficulties, they may be more at risk.
Cooling your dog down:
Keeping your dog cool is the best way to prevent heatstroke, but it’s a problem that can creep up on you, so here are a few ways you can bring their body temperatures down if you think they’re at risk:
Stop moving immediately and get them into some cool shade.
The sunshine and movement will make your dog warmer, so sitting in the shade on a cool surface gives their bodies a chance to relax and their temperature to reduce.
Sit them in room-temperature water.
Do not put them in cold water as this could send them into shock – cool water at around 15°C is best. Use a sponge or something to pour water on the parts exposed to the air while avoiding their heads This constant movement of cool water and air helps speed up to cooling process as a running tap can help soothe a burn on a human.
Choose an air-conditioned room.
If you have an air-conditioned room, set your dog up in there as the movement and cooling of the air will be a big help. Even a fan pointed in their direction is good too.
Give them some cool water.
Avoid freezing cold water, but sips of cool water can help chill down their blood vessels inside.
It’s important to keep your dog in these cooler conditions until their behaviour has returned to something resembling the norm, then take them to a vet. They may seem out of the woods, but you’ll want to make sure there are no lasting issues.
Summer planning tips for dog owners:
Adjust your walking schedule:
Prevention is always better than cure. Planning is your best bet to avoid any potential heatstroke encounters. You may wish to adjust your dogs feeding times to reflect a change of walking times. Many dogs will want to go for a walk or do their business after eating, so make sure you have a defined summer routine. Organise their walks or trips outside for the early morning or late evening when the ground is cool, and the sun is low. See suitable summer walking temperatures here.
Top Tip: To ensure their excellent health, try to give them a good quality food by making use of something like the Naturediet Food Finder which can customise the portion size and ingredients by their breed, age, gender and health issues.
If walking in the early mornings or later nights isn’t an option, then plan your walks in wooded and shaded areas where the ground will be cooler. Access to water for a cooling dip is also a winner with many breeds. You may also wish to play some enrichment games to tire your dog mentally if the weather is not suitable for a walk.
Finding shady places to rest away from the heat will allow your dog to keep cool. This can be indoors and out. Some owners have a paddling pool available in the shade for their dog to play in. You can hide treats in there too!
Remember to carry water everywhere – easy-to-use water bottles with doggy drinking attachments are readily available in most pet stores and online, and collapsible doggy bowls are more common too. Dogs should have access to water at all times, day and night.
Don’t forget their paws either. They’re one of the few places a dog can sweat from, and they’re very susceptible to the heat as they have little natural protection. Pavements, tarmac, and sand can get incredibly hot under the sun, and we often don’t realise it as we have shoes on. A good trick to make sure it’s safe for your pup is to hold the back of your hand on the ground for seven seconds – if it’s too hot for you, it’s too hot for your dog. You could plan your walks on natural grass or dirt tracks to be a lot safer, or you could invest in some dog boots or consider using paw wax as a barrier. Paws are sensitive areas and can burn and blister easily, so remember to err on the side of caution and check their condition after every walk.
There a a wonderful range of cooling mats, bandanas, coats and more to buy these days. to help keep your dog cool in warmer weather. A damp cloth in the fridge is also a lovely cool down tool.
Get a groom:
Finally, get them groomed. A professional groomer can help maintain the clean and tidy look of your pup and reduce the amount of fur across the body that could contribute to their overheating. You should brush them at home to remove loose hairs too – the less unnecessary hair, the better.
Helping your dog heal from heatstroke is all about speed and awareness, but it’s far safer to plan and keep them at a healthy temperature all the time. So, plan for summer now and enjoy some healthy, safe fun in the sun with your furry friends.