Most of us can’t wait for summer and warmer weather, but few dogs are sun-worshippers. On really hot days, your dog needs extra care so make sure you follow our tips to avoid having an unwelcome hot dog in the summer.
Everyone by now should know not to leave their pets in a hot car during the summer – but many don’t realise just how quickly a dog can overheat. You should never leave your dog unattended in a vehicle. Even if you park in what seems like a shaded spot, the angle of the sun changes fairly quickly.
University studies have shown that opening the windows a little does not stop the inside of a car from becoming an oven within just a few minutes.
If you must leave your dog in the car, do not leave it unsupervised. Don’t leave them attached to a harness/seat belt – which prevents them from moving to the coolest spot in the vehicle. It’s also worth thinking about our Reflecto car sheet – it covers your parked vehicle and helps to keep the interior much cooler. (It’s great for people too – saves returning to a car with red hot seats and has a wide range of uses.) We can also make reflective cage/crate covers to help to keep dogs cool in a moving car.
Next – think about how much more you drink in warmer weather and make sure that you check and top up your dog’s drinking water regularly. If you are going for a walk, it’s worth taking a doggie water bottle with you to provide a drink.
Although many people head to the beach at the first sign of sun, your dog would probably much prefer a stroll through a forest or wooded area where there is some shade from the sun.
If you have an elderly or infirm dog, then you are best taking walks early or late in the day to avoid the hot sun. Indoors, they will appreciate air-conditioning or a fan. Dogs prone to heatstroke should have shorter bouts of exercise. If your dog likes water then you can fill a shallow child’s plastic paddling pool with cool water so he can have a paddle – or even lie down in it.
Dogs can’t sweat in the way we do – apart from a little sweating through the paws. They pant to reduce their body heat but if it is very hot, that isn’t enough to prevent over-heating.
Don’t overdo it
If you are planning to take your dog over hills or across rough terrain, remember that the extra exertion will make him/her even more prone to heatstroke. Dogs are also more prone to injury on rough ground so you might want to invest in a pair of stopper pad protectors which help to prevent torn stopper pads on the backs of their front legs. Some owners also use them as joint supports for dogs with arthritis and other joint conditions.
Long/heavy-coated dogs will appreciate being clipped for the summer – but DON’T be tempted to shave your dog. Dogs can get sunburn too and their coat provides some protection. Remember that some breeds, such as pug, are much more prone to overheating and need special care in hot weather. Flat-faced dogs can’t pant as effectively as others.
If you do use sunscreen on your pet, make sure it is specially formulated for animals.
Watch out for Windows
Most of the year in Britain, our windows remain firmly closed but in summer people tend to open bedroom and balcony windows to let in a breeze. Every year, dogs are injured or die because they are not aware of the danger and can fall from height. If you keep upstairs windows open, then close the door so pets can’t get into the room unsupervised.
Lots of dogs love to swim – but many are not brilliant swimmers and can get into trouble in fast-moving rivers or the sea. Unless you know that your pooch is an accomplished swimmer, use a doggie lifejacket –
this one from RuffWear
has a grab handle to assist in the case of problems. Alternatively, a doggie wetsuit aids buoyancy and can prevent some “snagging” injuries from branches underwater.
You’ve probably tried to walk on very hot sand on holiday. Remember, how painful it was? Well, dog paws can get easily burned on hot asphalt – so try to avoid it on their walks at hot times of the day.
It might not sound an obvious topic to include in an article on dogs, but many accompany their owners to barbecues and parties during the summer. Some human food is poisonous to dogs, along with alcohol, so make sure they aren’t allowed to roam free and accept unsuitable treats from other party guests.
Finally, why not treat your dog to one of our cooling coats?
We make the Cooler coat – a reflective tabard to reduce overheating and it is multi-use. As well as reflecting the sun, it is waterproof and in winter can be turned inside-out to keep the heat in!
Or how about a wet wrap? Simply soak this single-layer light towelling coat and wring out and then put over your dog to help them to stay cool when out and about.
However you spend your summer, make sure you and your dog enjoy the good weather while it lasts and that you don’t need to make unscheduled trips to the vet!