Keeping our dogs cool this summer
We have enjoyed some beautiful weather this winter. It has been recorded has the warmest winter on record. This does however mean that many are anticipating a much hotter summer. Given the recent temperatures we’ve seen already this spring it is going to be important to our dogs cool and safe. Dogs are much more susceptible to heat stroke than we are. They have fewer scent glands and less ability to cool themselves down. As a pet guardian it is important you know how to prevent your dog getting heat stroke.
To help us be mindful of this, this blog will talk about how to prevent heat stroke, how to recognise heat stroke and treatment if it should happen. It will also go over some great enrichment ideas to ensure we all have fun together this summer.
What is heat stroke?
Heat stroke occurs when our dogs core body temperature exceeds its normal range (39 degrees) and dogs are unable to cool themselves. It can happen at any time of year but is much more likely in hotter months. It can occur very quickly and is life threatening.
What can I do to prevent my dog getting heat stroke?
Prevent your dog getting heat stroke by limiting exercise to mornings and evenings
It will be important to take note of the temperature and have a game plan each day. A common cause of heat stroke is exercising in hot temperatures. The body generates a lot of heat during exercise, and on an already hot day this can be extremely dangerous. Therefore, a good way to prevent heat stroke is to plan any exercise for the mornings and afternoons, once it has cooled down. This includes your walks, even a slow-paced walk during a hot day is enough to cause heat stress.
When out walking, another thing to consider is the surface you are walking on. Sand, concrete and asphalt can all reach temperatures high enough to burn a dog’s paws. If you cannot walk barefoot on it or place the back of your hand on the ground for 7 seconds, it is too hot for our dogs to be out walking on it.
Provide access to fresh water, and well-ventilated and shaded resting space
At all times it will be essential your dog have access to fresh, cool drinking water as well as a shaded, well-ventilated space to rest and escape the heat. If possible, bring your dog inside the house, with air conditioning or fans blowing will be the best way to keep them cool. And you! It is a good idea to place out some extra water bowls and placing them in different locations. Keep water bowls in the shade to keep the water cooler for longer. Placing ice cubes in the water is also a great way to keep it chill. When out walking taking water with you for your dog to drink is also a good idea.
Do not leave your dog in the car. Even parked in the shade with your windows down, your car will reach extreme temperatures so at no point should you leave your dog in the car. Likewise, dogs have gotten heat stroke when locked in a garage for long periods as well.
Let’s Have Fun. Water play
One accessory that is perfect for your dog this summer is a paddle pond. Kmart, Bunnings, Big W and many others stock small plastic pools. These are perfect for dogs during the summer. In a cool space it provides dogs with a large water source and a way to cool themselves down. Placing it out of the sun keeps it cooler for longer on a hot day. If you have a large dog, or just a dog who really loves the water consider a larger pool. A pool that allows them to stretch out and play will be great fun.
Sprinklers also make for great water play at the end of a hot day. It gives the dogs a chance to move and stay cool. Games like fetch and tug should be avoided during the hottest part of the day, these count as vigorous exercise.
Prevent heat stroke with cooling products
Cool mats have become more popular and easily accessible online over recent years. These can offer your dog a cool place to rest and relax. A wet towel can also be effective. Just lay it at the bottom of the shower, turn on the cold water and show your dog where it is.
Nothing is quiet so refreshing on a hot day as a frozen treat. You can make these for your dog by stuffing and freezing their puzzle toys, making them ice blocks or just putting their bones in the freezer. Even adding ice to their water bowls can add another layer of refreshing coolness. Cold carrots chunks and cucumber bits in water bowls or pools can be a fun game to set up for them as well. Trying to catch it in the water and then having something cool to eat and enjoy.
A frozen element can also be added to their toys. Running a tug in cold water and then freezing it will provide your dog something cool to chew on. Also, has the added benefit of keeping them hydrated. Stuffed toys can also be put in the freezer for your dog to cuddle with.
With a little creativity there is plenty of things we can to keep our dogs cool this summer and ensure they still have fun. Head on over to my social pages and share some of your ideas and experiences.
How do I know if my dog has heatstroke?
There are a few symptoms to be mindful of on hot days, these are signs of dog suffering from heat stroke.
- Heavy panting
- Excessive drooling (often with a thick saliva)
- Gum colour will change (a dark red or very pale/white)
- Vomiting and/or diarrhoea (may or may not have blood
- Restlessness or agitated movements
- Lethargic or collapse
- Dizziness or signs of confusion
- Racing heart rate
Some breeds are more susceptible to developing heat stroke including brachycephalic breeds, older and younger dogs, large breed dogs and extremely active dogs. However, on a hot day with the right conditions any dog can get heat stroke. Know the signs and know how to help your dog stay cool.
“I think my dog has heatstroke, what do I do?”
If you suspect your dog has heat stroke the first thing to do is remove them from the hot environment to somewhere cooler. Help to lower their temperature, gradually, use cool water to wet the dog down. A hose is great for wetting the dog down, offering some water and wetting the ground around them to cool the area further. A fan will help to further cool them by circulating the air.
Seek veterinary assistance right away. Even if your pet seems to be recovering it is still important they be checked by a vet.
Final thoughts on preventing your dog getting heat stroke
Heat stroke is a life threatening condition, and with our dogs inability to cool themselves effectively it’s important to do what you can to prevent your dog getting heat stroke. Keeping them cool also provides opportunities for some fun and different enrichment. If you suspect your dog has heat stroke, get them somewhere cool and call your vet right away.
Head on over to my facebook to continue the conversation and share your experiences.