Keeping Your Dog Cool in a Heatwave
We'e had several weeks of lovely sunshine recently and the forecast for next week is looking pretty good as well, but whilst we are enjoying the sunshine it is important to make sure that our pets are comfortable too. Quite often your dog will tag along with whatever we are doing and won't tell us they are overheating until it is too late. So as temperatures soar during this heatwave, it's crucial to prioritise the well-being of your furry friends, particularly dogs who are vulnerable to heat-related issues. Knowing how to keep your dog cool and safe in hot weather is essential to prevent heat stroke and ensure their comfort. So, this week we are looking at some key strategies for keeping your dog cool, including the best times to walk them, recognising signs of heat stroke, treatment methods, tips for exercising them safely during hot weather, and creating a cool environment at home.
Sunflower dog pic by Delphine Beausoleil on Unsplash
- Optimal Times for Dog Walks:
During a heatwave, it's important to adjust your dog's walking schedule to avoid the hottest parts of the day. Early mornings and late evenings tend to be cooler, so aim to walk your dog during these times when temperatures are lower. Avoid midday walks when the sun is at its peak and temperatures are at their highest, as this can significantly increase the risk of heat-related issues.
- Recognising Signs of Heat Stroke:
Heat stroke can be life-threatening for dogs, so it's crucial to be aware of the warning signs. Symptoms of heat stroke include: excessive panting, difficulty breathing, rapid heartbeat, drooling, weakness, vomiting, diarrhoea, and collapse. If you notice any of these signs, it's important to take immediate action to cool your dog down and seek veterinary assistance. Flat-faced (brachycephalic) breeds such as pugs and bulldogs are especially vulnerable to heat stroke so make sure you keep a close eye on them for any behavioural changes.
Cool dog pic by Chrissy Langston on Unsplash
- Treating Heat Stroke:
If you suspect your dog is experiencing heat stroke, swift action is vital. Move them to a shaded, cool area and offer fresh water to drink. Use cool (not ice-cold) water to dampen their body, focusing on their paw pads, groin, and armpit areas. Applying wet towels or using a fan can also help lower their body temperature. However, it's crucial to contact a veterinarian as soon as possible, as heat stroke can have serious consequences and may require professional medical treatment.
- Tips for Walking or Exercising in Hot Weather:
When it's hot outside, it's important to take extra precautions when walking or exercising your dog. Here are some tips to keep in mind:
- Choose Shaded Routes: Opt for walking routes that offer ample shade, such as tree-lined streets or parks with shaded areas. This will help protect your dog from direct sunlight and reduce their exposure to heat.
- Test the Pavement: Before taking your dog for a walk, check the pavement temperature by placing your hand on it for a few seconds. If it feels too hot for your hand, it's likely too hot for your dog's sensitive paw pads. Consider walking on grass or using protective booties to shield their paws from heat.
- Hydration is Key: Always carry water and a portable bowl for your dog during walks. Offer them water regularly to keep them hydrated, and avoid prolonged periods without access to fresh water.
- Take Breaks in the Shade: During longer walks, take frequent breaks in shaded areas to allow your dog to rest and cool down. This will help prevent overheating and exhaustion.
- Consider Indoor Exercise: On extremely hot days, opt for indoor exercise alternatives, such as interactive games, puzzle toys, or obedience training sessions at home. This way, your dog can still stay mentally and physically active while avoiding the risks associated with hot weather.
Labrador pic by Mitchell Orr on Unsplash
- Creating a Cool Environment at Home:
Ensuring a cool environment at home is essential for your dog's well-being during a heatwave. Here are a few ways to help keep them cool:
- Provide Ample Shade: If your dog spends time outdoors, make sure they have access to shaded areas where they can retreat from the sun. Consider setting up a canopy or providing a sheltered spot with proper ventilation.
- Use Cooling Aids: Utilise cooling mats, elevated beds, or wet towels to help your dog regulate their body temperature indoors. These items provide a cool surface for them to lie on and can offer relief from the heat.
- Keep Indoor Spaces Cool: Use fans or air conditioning to maintain a comfortable temperature indoors. Ensure proper airflow and circulation in your home to prevent it from becoming too hot and stuffy.
- Provide Fresh Water: Ensure that your dog has access to fresh, cool water at all times. Consider using a larger water bowl or adding ice cubes to their water to keep it cooler for longer.
Retriever pic by Andriyko Podilnyk on Unsplash
When temperatures rise during a heatwave, it's crucial to prioritise the well-being of your canine companion. By following these tips and adjusting walking times, recognising signs of heat stroke, providing proper treatment, taking precautions during exercise, and creating a cool environment at home, you can help keep your dog cool and safe in hot weather. Remember, responsible pet ownership includes being proactive in protecting your furry friend from the potential dangers of extreme heat.
Main Pic by Marc Pell on Unsplash