Keep Your Dog Cool Through the Summer Heat

With the weather quickly warming up as we head into summer, we are shedding our winter woollies and turning on the aircon. What about our furry friends who can’t shed their coats and who can’t switch on the aircon or pour themselves a cool drink of water?

Be sure to keep your dog cool in hot weather, wherever he or she is. Here are some tips: Ensure there is plenty of cool water to drink in a bowl which cannot be knocked over. Don’t leave a metal water dish where it will be in the sun during the day. Leave your dog in an area where there is shade. Shady areas can be cooled by placing wet towels on the floor for your dog to lie on, over your dog’s kennel or hanging in an open window. Exercise your dog in the early morning or late evening. Be mindful of the temperature of road surfaces, remembering your dog does not have shoes to protect his pads. Groom your dog regularly to or take him to the parlour for a haircut.

Don’t leave your dog in a small enclosed space, such as a caravan or car. Every year dogs suffer and die in hot cars. It is a fact that the temperature in a parked car can climb to a deadly 47°C in minutes, turning it into a death trap. When one thinks one is “just popping out for a minute”, how often does one bump into an old friend and not notice the minutes ticking by? What was to be a minute so easily becomes a few minutes or a quarter of an hour. Dogs can suffer heatstroke or die in a hot car in this short time. Don’t take this chance, leave your dog at home.

Symptoms of heatstroke begin with restlessness, panting and excessive thirst, the saliva becomes thick and the tongue and membranes become red. The dog will become lethargic, disinterested in food and may vomit. If left unchecked hypothermia will cause the heartbeat to become faster, fever to set in and there may be bloody diarrhoea and lack of coordination. If the lips and membranes turn grey, the dog is close to losing consciousness and death.

We have sweat glands all over our bodies, while dogs have sweat glands in a relatively small area, only in the pads of their paws, consequently dogs do not tolerate high temperatures as well as people. When the ambient temperature is close to body temperature their only way of lowering their body temperature, panting, becomes ineffective.

Some dogs will overheat more quickly than others. These include brachycephalic breeds which are dogs with squashed up noses, large dogs and dogs with long coats such as Saint Bernards, some Shepherds and Pekinese.

Remember, even though your dog will always want to be with you, he is relying on you to make the right decisions for him and care for him in the best possible way.

I hope you all have a really cool summer!