While the summer is a fantastic time of year filled with outdoor adventures, alfresco dining and lots of socialising, keeping our dogs cool and comfortable indoors and when outside becomes a priority in the hot weather.
Dogs can only pant in an attempt to keep cool and they are also wearing furry jumpers all summer. Just imagine! So taking care of your dog's cooling needs is a must.
Let's look at some summer dangers faced by dogs and some cool ideas to help them cope and enjoy a happy, healthy summer.
Dogs can overheat incredibly quickly. Heatstroke is potentially fatal but avoidable. Always provide your dog with a cool, shady place to relax in warm weather.
Signs of heatstroke
1) At first the dog will pant more than usual, become agitated and may seem uncomfortable or distressed.
2) Panting will become excessive and laboured and the dog may start to drool.
3) The dog will struggle to breathe and may appear glassy eyed and have dark red gums.
4) Body temperature has risen to a point where cell death in the brain results in seizures, coma and ultimately death. In these later stages, even with intensive veterinary care, your pet is unlikely to survive.
To deal with the early stages of heatstroke, move the dog to a cooler area and start to gently cool them down. Covering them with a wet tea towel or similar can help to gently cool their body. Don't use icy or very cold water. This can be a massive shock to their system.
Walk your dog during the cooler part of the day. If your dog is normally very active on walks, playing fetch or running around, try to calm this down by playing less energetic games. And of course NEVER leave your dog in a stationary car. Leaving the window open, parking in the shade, or leaving a bowl of water in the car is NOT adequate. A dog left in a car on a even a slightly warm day can suffer heat stress and ultimately fatal heat stroke within just 10 minutes.
Dog Cooling Coat
Keep your dog cool on walks and even indoors with a cool coat. It is a summer essential that I simply would not be without for my dogs. In warm weather I always walk my dogs in a cool coat. They can prevent a dog from becoming overheated on walks, during energetic games and exercise. They can also help cool down an already overheated dog.
But they all vary widely in their design, quality and effectiveness so choose wisely. My recommendation is the ThermLOW dog cooling coat. This handy little jacket just needs a quick soak in ordinary tap water and the simple evaporative process will keep your dog nice and cool - a bit like the equivalent of sweating, which dogs can't do naturally. It uses a high quality fabric to retain more water than most other cool coats and it also has an inventive chest coverage section. Perfect.
Dog Cooling Mats & Breeze Mats
Another highly recommended product for keeping your dog cool is a cool mat. These are great for placing on the floor at home, preferably in a shady area away from direct sun light. Inside the mat there will usually be a layer of cooling gel which works by transferring heat from your pet's body. On a good cool mat, within a few moments of lying on it your dog will feel the cooling effects and be comfortable enough to prefer it to the hard floor.
Take care though with the one you buy. Some of the cheaper ones can be very hard and flat, which won't entice your pooch onto it at all. Get a good brand like our gel Chill Out cooling mat for dogs by All For Paws.
My terrier also used to love his Breeze Mat. The idea of these is to help cool your dog by allowing better air flow as they lay down or sleep. The breeze mat will be an open structure, rather than solid foam or filling. This open structure literally allows air flow around their body.
If you are out and about with your dog and need of some shade for them. A pop-up sun shelter, small tent or parasol is an easy solution, wherever you are. It is a simple way to provide your dog with a shady place to retreat from the sun.
Sun Protection Vest
Have you seen these nifty little vests? The EzyDog Rash Vest is a dog sun protection jacket that protects your dog from the sun, providing 50+ UV protection. They are also highly visible and made from quality Lycra for a comfortable fit. The fabric is breathable so while your dog is being protected, they won't overheat from wearing the garment.
Most dogs adore water games and it is a great way to keep them happy and exercised in hot weather. Hosepipes and sprinklers are all exciting and a safe way to play in hot weather.
To really give your dog some cooling fun, why not treat them to their very own paddling pool, sprinkler or outdoor water fountain. Yay!
There are also some fun dog water toys available which make for great summer games. They are loads of fun and also help your dog to stay hydrated while they play. Woof!
We all love the cool breeze from a fan in the summer and guess what - dogs do too.
My dogs both have their own floor fans. They are always on and available day and night for them to lie in front of whenever they want a lovely cool breeze.
I don't use the living room in the day so the curtains stay closed and the dogs have their very own shady, cool room to enjoy.
Given a regular supply of water to drink, your dog should not dehydrate. Make sure that your dog always has a fresh bowl of water available to them. They will drink more in the hot weather so you will need to check and re-fill it on a regular basis.
One of the first signs of dehydration is loss of skin elasticity. If you think your dog might be dehydrated, do this simple check. When the skin along the back is picked up into a fold, it should spring back into place. In dehydration, the skin stays up in a ridge.
Signs of dehydration
1) Loss of skin elasticity.
2) Dryness of the mouth.
3) Sunken eyes.
4) Circulatory collapse.
Always take water and a bowl with you on walks and offer it to your dog every 30 minutes or so. This will keep them hydrated and also guard against them dashing off to slurp from an alternative water source.
There are loads of clever and handy dog water bottle and bowl ideas to choose from.
If you and your dog are travelling, having a day out or going on holiday, consider taking some bottles of tap water or the dogs usual drinking water from home. Dogs often don't like to drink strange tasting water.
If your dog is dehydrated or very thirsty, do not let them gulp down excessive amounts of water as they are likely to bring it back up. Make sure they rehydrate slowly. Give your dog an electrolyte mixed in water, which will be more effective than plain water.
So that has hopefully given you some ideas to keep your dogs happy, healthy and as cool as cucumbers this summer.