Summer is definitely ON and with temperatures expected to rise it’s important to remember that these extremely warm days can have a major effect on your dog’s health. Doggies can easily overheat because the only ways they release heat is by panting and through a limited number of sweat glands between their toes. Here is our top 10 list of ways to keep your dog cool and hydrated throughout the summer months ahead.
1. Supply lots of fresh, clean water. This is an obvious one but a biggie. Make sure you leave your dogs with big bowls of water if you’re going out for the day, ideally left out of the direct sun.
2. Don’t overexercise. Our dogs don’t always know their limits and may push themselves too far, especially when playing their favourite games such as fetch or ball. Instead of letting them run to the point of exhaustion why not mix the walk up with a bit of everything, some ideas being: sitting and having a fuss and cuddle in the shade, playing ‘Find It’ (scentwork) games under a cool tree, going for a swim, paddling in a shallow stream looking for sticks, a gentle stroll through the dark woods …
3. Walk during the cooler times of day. Simple adjustments to your usual routine can make all the difference to your dogs health. If you usually go out at mid-day then try walking an hour or two earlier. 10am feels a lot cooler then 12pm and certainly we’ve found that the hottest time of the day is between 1pm and 4pm so avoid walking during these times if you can. If your dog needs to get out to do his business mid-day then follow some of the ideas in point 2 above to keep them cool.
4. Provide outdoor shelter from the sun. Most dogs enjoy being outside even in the scorching heat! If you’ve got one like this then it’s important to do the thinking for him and provide outdoor shelter – ideally somewhere dark and cool – for him to lounge about. The options are endless and if you think outside the box you can create your own little outdoor ‘den’ for your dog on a budget. Ideas include: cutting open a barrel or tub, using old pallets and a bit of plastic, re-purposing a coffee table, etc !
5. Make ice lollies with their favourite treats. If you’ve got time then you can make some chicken or bone broth and freeze in molds; or use tuna, bits of meat and vege and freeze in ramekins. Get as creative as you like (just check the food/treat is dog friendly first!). Last year I made a really yummy lolly for the dogs in day care by mixing natural yogurt with banana and dropping blueberries inside before freezing. They loved it!
6. Find walks with lots of shade and water points for them to drink or swim in. The dogs of Milton Keynes are lucky in that there are lots of fantastic walking locations which are shaded and we are also blessed with rivers, steams and lakes all over town. If your dog doesn’t like swimming you might still be able to coax him into the water if you also go in! Cooling their paws and lower legs down will make a difference to their body temperature so go on get in there with them and make getting wet fun!!
7. Invest in a cooling mat or wet some towels for him to lie on. There are all sorts of cooling mats available on the internet or in your local pet store; however, saying that it’s important to note that not all dogs like lying on them (Grizzle hates the ‘crunchy’ noise and won’t use one). So before shelling out the cash why not try a free alternative which is wetting an old towel and lying it on the ground near an open window or below a fan, this is a surprisingly easy way of cooling them down and my boy certainly prefers it to a mat.
8. Proper grooming is essential. Frequent brushing helps remove any “dead” fur and will help to keep his coat healthy and comfortable. Dogs with really long, thick fur might enjoy a tidy up before the summer and this may also make swimming opportunities less of a ‘chore’ for you and something you allow your dog to indulge in at will. Some dogs have double-coats so the idea of clipping them to keep them cool is a bit flawed (the top “guard hairs” actually act as insulation against the heat and sunburn). The undercoat is actually part of a dog’s natural cooling system, but if not properly maintained it can become matted and prevent air flow across your dogs skin. Grizzle is a Border Terrier and has an undercoat, we noticed a massive difference to how hot he was getting after a really good home strip session and a long brush with a Zoom Groom so get those doggies of yours to the grooming palour! We recommend Divine Dog Groomers in Crownhill or Rachel’s Dog Grooming in Wolverton.
9. Let your dog dig! In nature, one of the reasons dogs dig is to keep cool. So if your dog is showing an interest in a patch of the garden it might be worth your while to let them crack on 🙂 or better yet, allocate a specific spot for digging as this provides them with fantastic mental stimulation and is a space you can use all year long.
10. Watch for signs of dehydration. The helpful guide below will help you spot the signs of dehydration so take a moment to study it.
You’ll note that I haven’t included the most obvious point of all which is to not leave your dog in your car while doing the shop. I’m going to assume that readers of the blog love their fur-babies enough not to do something as silly as this 😉