How to keep your dog cool during a heatwave
Despite all of the publicity surrounding the RSPCA’s ‘Dogs Die in Hot Cars’ campaign, last year there was a surge of reports of animals suffering from heat exhaustion and the charity believe that the impact of heat on dogs is still often misjudged. So we thought that whilst many of us have been enjoying this lovely mini-heatwave this spring it was worth taking a look at some of the best ways to keep your dog cool during the warmer months.
Cool Dog photo by Mel Elías on Unsplash
As the summer approaches, it is important to be aware of the effects of too much sunshine on our pets. Did you know that it takes around 5 minutes for a dog to become dangerously overheated in a car that is parked in the sun. At home, conservatories, sheds and gardens that don’t have any suitable shade can also become dangerously hot. Don’t lock your dog outside or shut them in a conservatory if you are going out as the consequences of heat stroke can be fatal.
Hot dog photo by Erin Wilson on Unsplash
Part of the problem is that people judge how their dog might cope in the heat by how their own bodies are reacting - but dog bodies do not deal with heat in the same way that humans do. When we get hot, we sweat. But a dog is unable to do this (except through their paws). They cool themselves down by panting. This increases their heart rate, which opens up tiny blood vessels in the skin, to help cool them down. They also lick themselves to encourage evaporation. If your dog becomes too hot, these cooling methods will cease to work effectively and if their body temperature reaches 41°C or more then they are at risk of heatstroke, which only has a 50% survival rate.
If your dog has a thicker coat or a short muzzle they are more susceptible to heatstroke. Obese dogs are also at higher risk – and with more than 50% of pet dogs in the UK considered to be overweight - this means a large proportion of dogs are vulnerable to heat-related conditions.
Dog in the shade photo by Jonathon Young on Unsplash
Top Tips for Responsible Dog Owners
There are many ways that responsible owners can take care of their dogs during a heatwave:
- Never leave your dog in a hot car – not even for a few minutes. The risk is not worth taking.
- Don’t lock them out in the garden if they do not have access to shade and don’t shut them in a shed or conservatory if you are going out.
- Ensure they have continuous access to cool, shaded, well-ventilated areas and that they always have plenty of fresh, clean, cold water available.
- If it is really hot then only walk your dog during cooler parts of the day – such as early morning or late evening. If you are walking on a road or pavement check that it has not absorbed too much heat. Test it yourself - if it is too hot for you to walk on barefoot then it is too hot for your dog. Some dogs may be excited to go for a walk and not notice the heat at first so don’t rely on them to tell you how hot it is, test it yourself!
- Be aware of the signs of overheating or heat stroke. These include loud breathing, excessive panting or licking, appearing drowsy or unsteady on their feet. If you’re not sure, contact your vet for advice. It is always better to err on the side of caution rather than risk your dog’s health.
Drinking dog photo by Marian Kroell on Unsplash
Of course another thing you can do to help your pet is give them a good brush or a trim. We have lots of great items in our online shop that can help you to pamper you pet at home for that perfect salon finish. We’ve just taken a delivery of some very smart new dog grooming tables and we’ll be telling you all about them on next week’s blog.
Have you got any extra tips for keeping your dog cool this summer? Let us know in the comments section below.
Main photo by Robson Hatsukami Morgan on Unsplash