With a sudden surge in temperatures it’s time to think about how we can keep our dogs safe and cool over the summer months….
The sudden change in weather has meant dog’s haven’t had the usual acclimatisation period to the warmer weather and may be slightly more at risk.
Why do dogs get too hot?
Dogs are pretty inefficient at regulating their body temperature. They don’t sweat like people and only really sweat through their feet which isn’t much help in terms of temperature regulation. The main way dogs loose heat is through panting.
In terms of heatstroke there are many other considerations that may make a dog more prone to heat stroke Including;
- weight (overweight dogs are more prone),
- age (much like with people the young and old have more difficulties),
- breed (brachycephalic breeds, those with short muzzles and flattened faces are more prone to heatstroke as too are thick coated dogs),
- certain underlying medical conditions.
What happens in severe cases of heatstroke?
Organ failure, brain damage and even death.
How do you know if your dog is suffering from heat stroke?
Use a thermometer to check their temperature – Normal temperature is between 101 (38.3 degrees) and 102 (38.3 degrees). If their temperature is above normal check it again in 5-10 minutes. If it is 103+ degrees speak to your vet immediately, at 108 degrees organ damage is occurring!
Other signs may include:
- appearing stressful
- unusual panting
- pinched look
- mucous membranes of gums (red/pale/purple)
- vomiting and diarrhoea can occur as well as fitting and bleeding.
What should you do?
- Call the vet
- Place a cool damp towel (not cold as this can cause shock) on them – change towels frequently as they quickly warm up and then become counter productive.
- Provide a fan to blow cool air on your dog.
- Cool dogs head using fans and cool surfaces.
- Keep a check on your dogs temperature and record times and readings of these checks.
The best way to keep your dog cool is to not let them get too hot in the first place.
Control Activity Levels – This may mean:
- on lead walks.
- managing play sessions (particularly in multi-dog households).
Control Your Environment – This may mean:
- Thinking about the timing of your activities.
- Checking the temperature and humidity level.
- Considering not going for a walk or performing the strenuous activity at all… Dog’s don’t die from missing walks they do die from over heating!
- Providing shade and cool options for your dog to lie on…If your dog would like to lie on the cool tiled floor, provide him space to do this where he won’t be getting in the way. If he has a fluffy basket bed that he likes to lie in, in a particular spot swap this for a cool mat, but still leave the fluffy bed accessible in a cool shady spot.
- Move your dog out of the sun.
- Keep hydrated – Provide multiple water bowls (one in eye-sight at all times would be amazing)…until someone asks if you’d like a cup of tea you don’t always realise that you are thirsty. Add extra water to kibble meals or add a little stock to your water bowl to make it that bit more tempting.
There are plenty of products that are marketed at keeping dogs cool…which ones are worth the money???
Cool mats – these can provide a comfortable cool surface for a dog to lie on, but do warm up with body contact so worth keeping a check on. Check what they are filled with and be cautious if you have a dog that is likely to chew it!
Cool coats – these have been very popular, but without carefully monitoring them they can insulate the dog (making them warmer). To be effective read the instructions carefully and regularly check how warm your dog is feeling.
Cool toys – there are balls that can be filled with water and frozen, the activity your dog puts into engaging with this item means they are very unlikely to cool your dog down…you may be better off with a frozen carrot or banana.
Cool bowls – Freezing the bowl means it may keep the water inside the bowl cooler for longer, although some dogs do not like to drink very cold water and the important thing is to keep your dog hydrated. Regularly checking and replacing your dogs water will be equally effective, particularly if you are using a none metallic bowl (metallic ones can quickly become warm).
Cool bandanna – may not do much in terms of reducing your dog’s body temperature, but may make them feel nice and look cool.
AC units and fans – are helpful in keeping dogs cool and comfortable.
Road Refresher water bowls – are anti-spill and mean that you can keep fresh water in with your dog even as they are travelling in the car http://www.roadrefresher.com/.
Pupsicles and doggy ice creams and ice cubes – If my child was ill and suffering from heat exhaustion I wouldn’t expect an ice lolly to fix it, the same is true of these doggy products. Giving one as a refreshing treat isn’t going to do any harm, just don’t over do it and don’t think it’s going to massively adjust their body temperature.
Aluminet – Can help provide shade for your car to keep it cool so it’s not hot when you return back to it for the journey home https://www.becoolsolutions.com/pages/aluminet-shade.
Here’s a few ideas that can help keep your dogs cool that won’t cost the earth…
- A damp towel can be used to lie on or placed over a dog to help keep them cool (just remember to replace it frequently).
- Fill a plastic bottle full of water and freeze, wrap in a towel to provide a cool pillow/snuggle item.
- Hose down your patio to help keep it cool and protect your dog’s feet.
- Set up a doggy paddling pool – try to choose a nice shady spot so the dogs aren’t playing in the sun.
- Create a water walkway, using trays filled with cool water in areas your dog frequently walks along e.g. the path down the side of the house.