In the UK, enjoying a spell of warm, sunny weather is a fairly rare occurrence, which is why we love to make the most of it when it happens. However, lengthy periods in the sunshine can be stressful and uncomfortable for dogs, whose coping mechanisms are very different to ours.
In particularly warm weather, it becomes necessary to take precautions to protect our dogs from discomfort and heat stroke, such as changing the time of day we go for walks, and thinking about where our dogs are kept (cars and greenhouses are obviously a BIG no no!)
Below are a few key things to remember when sunshine strikes this summer:
- Exercise your dog early in the morning or late at night – midday is typically when the sun is at its hottest, so bear this in mind when planning your day. Many people tend to walk their dogs early in the morning and late at night during the week when they have to work, but if it’s hot over the weekend, adopt the same approach to ensure your dog is only being exercised at the coolest points of the day.
- Avoid walking on hot pavements – many dog owners forget to think of this, which is easy to do when you have shoes on and are protected from the burning asphalt. Every year, countless dogs are rushed to the vets with blistered paws having been walked on hot paths and roads. Paw butters like the Pet Head Oatmeal Paw Butter can be used to help soothe and relieve sore, dry or cracked paws.
- A simple test is to take your shoes off and stand on the pavement yourself – if you can’t last 5 seconds, it is definitely too hot for your dog! If you have to walk when the sun is at its hottest, put boots on your dog to protect the pads. Unlike humans who sweat through their pores, dogs only sweat through their paws, which makes walking on hot ground doubly uncomfortable.
- Keep your dog hydrated – and watch for signs of dehydration. This can happen quickly, so know the signs (lethargy, weakness, dry gums, sunken eyes) and act immediately. If you’re going walking and are planning on being out most of the day, take plenty of water with you, even if you think there’ll be some where you’re going. Travel bowls and bottles make transporting and distributing water much easier on-the-go.
- Use cooling vests and pads – these ensure your dog stays cool for longer periods of time and are great for long-haired dogs that struggle more in the heat. Because they are also re-usable, they are an ideal investment for the warmer summer months.
- Clip fur but don’t completely shave it – some vets recommend doing this for longer haired breeds with a heavy undercoat that struggle regulating their body temperature. Beware of cutting it too short though, as this can leave your dog open to sunburn. Ideally you should leave at least an inch of hair to protect your dog from the sun’s rays.
- Find fun ways to stay cool – if you don’t have the luxury of a paddling pool to dip your toes into, then using the garden hose or a sprinkler with your dog doubles up as a fun game and a cooling measure. Why not try the All for Paws Chill Out Hydration Bone? Lay a cool towel out for your dog to lie on, place ice cubes in his water bowl, plug an electric fan close to his bed to cool the air, make up some doggy popsicles with fresh fruit, yogurt and honey and freeze in ice cube holders. There is so much you can do!
If you have any suggestions for keeping your dogs cool this summer, please comment below and share your ideas with our other readers!
Written by: Hannah