Summer is here, and temperatures are heating up! This is a great time to get out and about with our furry friends however, we also need to protect our pets from the heat and harsh summer sun. Many people forget that when their pet is outside on a summer day, the heat can affect them just as much as it affects us. So, I have put together a collection of handy tips that you can use to keep your pet cool and safe this summer.
Walks do not need to stop in summer. Instead, it is the time of the walk that needs to change. Aim to take your pet for a walk either early in the morning or in the evening. TOP TIP: Use the Five Second Rule before taking your pet outside. Place the back of your hand on the ground for five seconds. If it is too hot for your hand, then it is definitely too hot for your dog’s paws!
NEVER leave your pet in the car regardless of whether the car is in the shade or you have left a window down. Cars heat up very quickly, even in the shade. Try sitting in your car for a few minutes with the windows up on a hot day and you will see how quickly it can heat up. Pets die in hot cars.
Ensure your pet has plenty of fresh cool water. The water is best placed in large containers in a shady spot. A backup water supply should be provided just in case the first container spills or evaporates. If left in the sun, water can heat up very quickly, making it not drinkable. TOP TIP: Try adding some ice cubes to the water to help keep it cooler for longer!
Everyone enjoys a dip in the pool when it is hot and this includes our pets. Buying a plastic clam/shell pool and filling it with cool fresh water is a great way to provide a place for them to cool down. Of course, put this in the shade! Remember if you have a swimming pool to keep the gates closed. Dogs can drown very quickly in pools. It is a good idea to swim your pet in the pool occasionally and teach them how to get out. This way, if for some reason they do end up in the pool, they will not panic and can get themselves out.
Just like us some dogs need to SLIP, SLOP and SLAP. If your dog has pink skin on their nose or ears putting on doggy sunscreen in the middle of the day is a must. Also, with white dogs try to avoid letting them lay on their backs in the sun during the middle of the day. Dogs can not only get sunburnt, but they can also get skin cancers just like us. Dogs with pigmented skin have natural protection from the sun’s harsh rays however pink skin has minimal if any protection at all. Just like us, dogs with pink skin or white coats should stay out of the sun between the hours of 10am and 3pm.
Did you know that dogs don’t sweat like we do? They rely on panting to lower their body temperature.
As moisture evaporates from their tongue, this cools the blood that is recirculated back into the body. It’s a pretty clever way for them to cool themselves down however, it is not very effective on humid days because this reduces the evaporation that they are relying on to cool themselves down
When the humidity is high, you may need to pay extra special attention to helping your dog keep cool.
If your pet does overheat or is having trouble cooling down, effective but not sudden cooling is the key.
You can move them to a cooler area, for example into the shade or into the house. You can have a body of freshwater nearby and let them take a dip.
Another effective way to cool them is to place cool wet cloths on their neck, armpits and between the hindlegs. You can also wet their ears and paw pads. These are places that have blood flow near the surface of the skin and will allow you to cool your pet effectively. Offering a cool fresh drink of water will also help. But don’t force your pet if they don’t want a drink.
If your pet is extremely distressed, panting excessively, salivating, unable to walk or collapsing, you must take them to the nearest vet immediately. Dogs can die very quickly from heatstroke. Brachycephalic breeds (those with short noses like Pugs, Bulldogs, Boston Terriers etc) are extremely prone to heatstroke because they can’t cool themselves effectively through panting. If you suspect heatstroke start cooling them immediately with wet towels or spray them with cool (but not cold) water on your way to the vet.
So, with the above information in hand, let’s make summer an enjoyable and safe time to get out and have some fun with and enjoy our pets!