Hot weather brings plenty of opportunities for fun in the sun, exciting outdoor activities and games in the garden with our beloved pets. However, it’s important to bear in mind that hot weather can pose risks to pets as well, meaning it’s vital you take care of your dog and make sure they’re happy and safe. Read on to learn more about how to care for a dog in hot weather.
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The dangers of hot weather for dogs
Although you may think dogs love the heat, it can actually be dangerous for them. Dogs reduce their body temperature through panting and releasing heat through the pads on their paws – but if they get too hot, they are unable to do this, and can develop heatstroke very quickly.
Heatstroke can cause your dog to become extremely unwell, or even be fatal. Cars and conservatories often heat up fast, so never leave your pet alone in these on a warm day. Some breeds of dog are more prone to heatstroke than others; for example, those with thicker coats, as well as overweight dogs and brachycephalic breeds, due to their less efficient breathing.
How to cool down a dog in hot weather
If the temperature outside is rising, there are several steps you can take to keep your dog cool:
Watch them throughout the day and make sure they’re spending enough time cooling off in the shade. Top up your dog’s water bowl regularly and take a bottle of water and a bowl with you on walks. You can cool down your dog’s water by putting ice cubes in their bowl, or maybe even make them some tasty frozen dog treats to enjoy.
Dogs with white fur and breeds with shorter or thinner coats will naturally be more at risk of burning in the sun. Gently apply some pet-safe sun cream to vulnerable areas such as the ears and nose to prevent sunburn. Always ask a vet for the right product to use, and never use human sun cream.
Some dogs love to play in the paddling pool in hot weather, while others appreciate a cooling dog bath or some damp towels to lie on.
Brushing or combing any tangles and matts out of your dog’s fur will help keep them cool, as well as reduce the risk of flies laying eggs in their coat. If your dog has a longer coat, a summer trim will help prevent them from overheating.
If the weather is too hot, it may be best for your dog to simply stay indoors for the day. Keep blinds or curtains drawn and if you have one, set up a fan to circulate cold air. You can still entertain your dog indoors, safely away from the sun. Why not give them a treat puzzle to work out, or perhaps teach them a new trick?
Walking dogs in hot weather
On warm days, plan your dog’s walks around the sun. Early in the morning while the sun is rising or later in the evening when it’s setting are good times as there’s plenty of shade and the ground will be cooler. If your walk includes pavements, test the surface with your hand for five seconds. If it’s too hot for your hand, it’s definitely too hot for your dog’s paws. If it’s a really hot day, it’s probably best not to walk your dog at all.
Signs of heatstroke in dogs
If you fear your dog may have had too much sun, there are some key signs of heatstroke you can look out for, including:
If your dog exhibits any of the above signs, call a vet immediately. In the meantime, move your dog to a shaded, cool spot and wet their coat with cool water while you wait for the vet.