Summertime means all sorts of things to dog owners. On the one hand it means plenty of fun with your pet outdoors, enjoying the good weather with trips to the park, swimming in lakes and walking in the countryside. However, it also means you will have to keep an eye on your pet as you play, as they can easily get too hot.
Heatstroke is a genuine concern for many dog owners, and it should be something to constantly bear in mind. While hopefully nobody reading this would do something as harmful as leaving their pet in a hot car, dogs can still succumb to the heat just from playing outside if you are not careful.
Certain breeds of dog will naturally overheat easier than others. Obviously, long-haired and large dogs are at a greater risk of this. Breeds created in cold or mountainous areas will struggle in the heat, as will short-nosed dogs like Bulldogs and Pugs. If any of this applies to your dog, you may need to take extra steps to keep them cool.
There are all kinds of strategies you can use to keep dogs cool, but there are a few general tips that always apply. If you are going for a long walk, it is usually a good idea to have a stream or pool on the route so your dog can cool off in the water. Similarly, for extended play sessions, make sure there is plenty of shade around.
Of course, keeping your dog from becoming too hot can often be very similar to how you would cool yourself down. You might have a drink of water and a nice cold ice cream on a baking summer's day; why not treat your dog to the same?
Of course, your pet probably won't thank you for sharing the exact same food with them. Most dairy products and cocoa cause health problems in dogs, so chocolate ice cream is not an option. However, you can make your own frozen dog food.
Many of you already feed your dog frozen food, particularly if you are using the BARF diet. If this is the case, then why not try leaving a portion of frozen food in your pet's bowl before you go to work on a hot day? That way, your dog can constantly have access to some cooling refreshments.
Another option is for you to make frozen treats for your dog. These are great for going out, as you can keep them in a cooler bag and give them to your pet after a strenuous play session to keep them from overheating.
These can be simple, or a little more unusual. For example, one of the easiest treats you can give your pet is made simply by filling an ice cube tray with beef or chicken stock. This will provide you with little meaty iced treats that your dog will enjoy.
However, for something your pet pooch will really love, you need to get a bit imaginative. Ice cube trays are definitely your friend here, as you can fill them with all sorts of tasty substances for bite-sized frozen snacks.
While most types of dairy are bad for dogs' digestion, you can still create a canine equivalent of ice cream by freezing a mixture of plain yogurt, mashed banana and a little bit of peanut butter. Add in some fruit to give your pet a vitamin boost, although make sure it is not one of the types that is harmful to dogs.
Apples, strawberries, raspberries, pears, watermelons, oranges and kiwis are all suitable for your dog to eat in these frozen treats. You can feed these to them fresh as well, which might not be as cooling but will provide some much-needed hydration.
For a savoury snack, swap the peanut butter and fruit from the above recipe and replace it with cooked meat and mashed carrot. You can add some chopped fresh parsley for extra flavour, and your dog will love it.
Of course, the most important thing is to make sure your dog is kept well watered. You can take their water bowl out with you, and fill it up from a bottle throughout the day. That will keep them happy and healthy, and is a great idea in the summer.
Written by: Hannah