Keeping Dogs Cool in Summer
Not all homes have the luxury of air conditioning and not all dogs want to be inside, even on a hot day. But some dogs can suffer quite badly from the heat and in particular, old dogs can struggle quite a lot.
Dogs aren’t able to cool themselves through sweating like we do. Their panting is their mechanism for cooling their body but in summer this is not always enough and they can succumb to the heat very quickly.
WATER, WATER AND MORE WATER
- It’s pretty obvious that dogs must always have a supply of water available to them and in summer this is even more vital. Put out extra containers of water in shady spots so that, even if one is accidentally tipped over or dries up, there are others for the dog to drink from.
- Ceramic bowls are great for keeping water cool.
- Install an automatic water bowl which connects to the garden tap. These refill whenever the water level gets low and all they need is a weekly clean. There are also fairly inexpensive bowls with attached bottles that will stay topped up with water and are terrific for smaller dogs or those that stay inside during the day.
- Some dogs just don’t seem to drink much but if you ice cubes in the water or a few pieces of apple, they can bob for these at the same time as taking in a bit of fluid.
- Give your dog a hydro toy. These are balls and bones with a rubber shell but spongy middle that are soaked in water which releases slowly as the dog is chewing on them. They can even be frozen so that they last longer.
- Make sure the water bowl suits the dog as it’s not much good if it can’t get to the water.
- One of the easiest ways to ensure that a dog takes in more fluid is to feed it more wet food during summer. Many dog owners feed a combination of wet (or canned food) and dry biscuits throughout the year but in summer, simply increase the wet and reduce the dry food so that they take in the same amount of nutrients but extra water as well.
SHADE AND SHELTER
Even though the weather man might give an indication of what the temperature is, it may not be the actual temperature under your metal roof patio at home where the dog spends its day. Even the area under a tree can be hot once the ground heats up over the day.
Dogs will instinctively try to find the coolest place in the garden but if there’s nothing that’s going to give any relief, you need to provide it. Put up an open air tent or shade structure in a breezy area so that they can get plenty of shade and relief from the heat. Encourage them to hang out there with big juicy bones and lots of treats.
If the patio is the best solution but it becomes stifling on a hot day, install a cheap mister kit which is available from hardware and reticulation stores. It just needs to be attached with cable ties to the underneath of the patio and then clicked onto a garden tap. A battery operated 24 hour timer can be used to get it to turn on automatically for a few minutes every half hour or so in the middle of the day giving the dog (and birds) incredible relief from the heat. Mister kits are smaller versions of those seen at outdoor cafes and pubs and use very little water to put out a fine, cooling mist that can drop the air temperature by at least 10°C. Even you will love it when sitting outside!
Dogs just love to find a cool place to lay their belly on a hot day. Some will dig into damp sand under the bushes and others will lie flat out on the tiles in the bathroom; there are probably many owners that consider joining them! So, imagine if they could get this same cooling result from a soft bed either in the house or on the back patio.
A cooling bed is the solution. These come in different sizes to suit any breed and are made from a heavy duty plastic to stops damage from claws. The bed is filled with cooling gel and placed flat on the ground so that the dog has its own cool water bed. These are great for older dogs with arthritis that need to stay cool but have trouble getting up from hard floors or who suffer from ‘hot spots’.
COOLING COLLARS AND VESTS
Using similar technology to the mats, cooling collars and vests filled with gel are worm by dogs and help cool their body for a few hours.
There are also scarves, similar to the ones that gardeners wear, which have water crystals inside. These are then saturated and tied around the dog’s neck like a collar for a nice bit of relief but remember that these should be re-wet every now and then and a dog should never be left unattended whilst wearing one.
Whilst making the kids icy poles, don’t forget the dog! They would love a treat on a hot day and it’s just as easy. Simply use ice cube trays or muffin trays to freeze low salt chicken or beef stock but don’t let the kids get to them first!
Another fun idea is to freeze a treat toy which has been stuffed with mushy foods such as banana, cooked pumpkin, wet dog food, shredded chicken or cooked mince combined with a few treats. In the morning, before heading off to work, put it out for the dog to spend the morning trying to dig out the frozen goodies in the middle.
Kick the kids out of the wading pool and let the dog lay down. But, don’t fill it up too deep unless someone is around to supervise as the dog only needs it to be deep enough to be able to get its belly and paws into the water. However, treat this just as you would any other pool and make sure that it is emptied or protected so that the kids remain safe.
Although dogs may want to jump into a swimming pool, be very cautious. If the dog was to do this when no one was at home and then couldn’t get out, the results could be disastrous. Plus, a dog’s skin and fur does affect the water balance markedly but Better Pets and Gardens stores can help with this as we offer free water testing if you bring in a water sample.
Dogs that spend a lot of time outdoors can have the same problem with sunburn as we do. In fact, the flat top of a dog’s nose makes it especially prone to sunburn and those that have very little fur on that spot or who have pink skin are particularly at risk.
The easiest solution is to use a ‘doggy sunscreen’ which gets smeared onto the top of the nose and possibly the tips of the ears where the skin is exposed to the sun. Normal sunscreen won’t work for dogs as it will simply be licked off but ‘doggy sunscreen’ is quite gooey and won’t go anywhere once it is applied.
The fur on a dog actually does have a purpose in summer and that is to protect the skin from the sun but there is no doubt that regular grooming has a positive impact on their level of comfort.
Use a de-shedding brush every few days to remove the loose hair that, when left in amongst the fur, simply adds to the heat of the coat. Clipping is also a great option for dogs with a heavy coat and you can just imagine the relief that they must feel when this comes off during summer.
Of course, a bath is a wonderful way to cool the dog off and you can bring it into any Better Pets and Gardens stores to use our DIY dog bath. We don’t even mind if the dog shakes all over and will spoil it rotten on its visit. It’s a great day out for a dog on a hot summer’s day or even on its way home from the beach or the river.
- Don’t take your dog for a walk on a hot day! It might sound like fun but the hot pavement or sand can burn the pads on their feet and it won’t be obvious until later when they start to limp or lick them. If this occurs, get the dog to the vet immediately so that the dog can be given some pain relief and something to help with the damage.
- Don’t leave your dog in a parked car, even when just nipping into the shop for a minute. It’s never just a minute. It always takes longer than you expect to get through the checkout and in just a few minutes the car can easily heat up to over 50°C and the dog can become incredibly stressed and may even die. For the sake of just saving a few minutes, take the dog home and then come back for the bread. It really isn’t worth the risk.
- If you’re visiting a Better Pets and Gardens store, bring your dog in with you on a lead. We love to see them and they will really enjoy wandering around, having a drink and getting spoilt by our staff. Far nicer than sitting in a hot car.
CLICK HERE TO FIND OUT WHAT TO DO IF YOUR DOG IS AFFECTED BY HEATSTROKE.
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