Summer has finally decided to show up and bask us in her balmy weather! How is everyone coping this heat?
Personally, I have been ensconced in my home as much as possible until the evening while the Rat Pack have been content to sun bathe until they are panting. I am glad this year not to be in my former dog walking job as this time of year was a mixture of sun burn, bug bites and sweat.
So much sweat.
It also came with the added stress of making sure my charges were safe from over heating and dehydrating.
As a country, we love to cook ourselves in the limited time the UK has this weather. But that doesn't mean we should project that onto our 4 legged friends. While some dogs are better at coping with heat than others, it’s always best to be cautious. The problem with British summers is the sudden falls and rises in temperature so dogs don’t have much chance to acclimatise. I've put together a list of tips and considerations during this period.
🌞 Change out your walking schedule to early morning or late evening, pick walks that have shade and a natural water supply such as a lake or stream. Take water with you on your walks if there isn't.
🌞 Invest in a cool coat. These coats are great for Northern breeds and other dogs that don't do well in the warm weather. A cool coat can be taken out on their walk for added comfort.
🌞 Get your car cool before you load your dog in it both before and after a walk. It doesn't take long for a dog to suffer illness from being in a hot vehicle, even if you are in it.
🌞 Don't leave your dog unattended in a car. If you do have to leave your dog in the car, make sure they have water and the car is sufficiently ventilated so it doesn't heat up in your absence. Personally I wouldn't bother risking it, things like cooling units can fail. You also have the pet zealots in your area looking for an excuse to smash your window and abuse you on social media.
🌞 What colour is your dog? If you have a white dog or thin coated breed then you'll need to slather them up in dog safe sun screen to protect them from burning. Equally bare in mind that darker dogs will absorb the heat more so will by affected quicker.
🌞 What breed is your dog? Short nosed breeds such as Frenchies and Boxers have a hard time keeping their temperature down and breathing sufficiently so they are likely to suffer faster even from just a jaunt in the garden.
🌞 This goes for overweight, very young and elderly dogs! They are far more likely to suffer in this weather as well so need to be taken into consideration.
🌞 Think of the surfaces you are walking your dogs on. Place your hand on the ground, can you keep it there for more than 5 seconds? If not then it's too hot and can burn your dog's paws. Note especially for concrete, tarmac, rock and sand surfaces.
🌞 Shorten your walks, in this weather, dogs heat up like you do so cutting a walk a big shorter will stop them getting too hot and bothered.
🌞 Don't bother with the ball or anything else that will have your dog running around like a lunatic. High energy activity will get your dog over heating very fast.
🌞 Consider not walking your dog at all. Yeah, I know, blasphemy, but I know I sure as hell can't be bothered to do much in this weather. Your dog might be just as content to while the day away at home and enjoy some enrichment activities.
🏖 You can purchase special cool mats for your dog to lay on at home if they aren't coping with the weather. An alternate to this is to soak towels in water and let the dog lay on it or drape it over them. The evaporation acts to cool the dog.
🏖 Frozen treats are a great way for a dog to stay cool and enjoy the weather. You can purchase special doggy ice creams to keep in your fridge or make your own. Better yet, freeze you own concoction or the dogs dinner into puzzle feeders like Kongs and get the dual effect of coolness and enrichment! Take away boxes with water and kibble/treats frozen in it are another idea.
🏖 Kiddie paddling pools are super cheap and another great way for dogs to keep cool. Add in their toys and enjoy splashing around with them. You can even buy the hard plastic variety to prevent punctures.
🏖 Bobbing for frozen peas and carrots is a simple and yet engaging activity that you can pull out at short notice. Most households have frozen veg to hand and plonking some in a bowl of water can keep your pooch happily engaged.
🏖 Set up a shady area in your garden if your don't have any natural shade already. Being cooped up solely in the house can be boring so be setting up a shady spot outside, it provides another area to enjoy with all the sights, smells and sounds of the neighbourhood.
🏖 Keep your dog's coat brushed and not clogged with hair. A dog's coat is their air con as well, shaving a dog can actually make them feel the heat more.
Know the signs of heatstroke!
You need to be aware of the signs that your dog is suffering and at risk of heatstroke. Look out for the following symptoms:
Excessive and ongoing panting
Lethargic, collapsed, seizures
You know your dogs limits but always be vigilant for symptoms of heatstroke. It can take out a dog in mere minutes. Check out these infographics below from Vetsnow.