This time of year can be a struggle for many of us, with excess weight, pale skin or just a general dislike of the heat, but it can be lethal for our four legged friends. We have to be so careful with pets on hotter days, especially dogs which has come a bit of a concern for many over the past week or so. There are so many extra worries for our dogs health in the summer time and it's not just the heat. Water presents extra dangers this time of year, there's more bugs about that can affect their health and plenty of things we can do to help keep them safe, comfortable and healthy in a heat wave.
Here's my top tips for keeping your dog happy this summer and some ace products to help you along the way!
Keep them cool
Even inside or in the shade, our pooches can still feel the heat and may need a little help cooling down. Small bits of ice and all the drinking water are a good start, but you could also invest in cooling mats, cooling vests and maybe even a paddling pool with a little water in. The dogs don't need to be covered or swim to cool off, just enough to cover their paws can make a big difference. Even if your dog isn't a fan of the fan, just having one to circulate the air in the room can help. If you're opening doors and windows, make sure they are safe and can't escape, but make sure they are chipped and tagged just in case they get out, so they can be returned home as quick as possible before getting over heated. To keep them calm and healthy through those super hot days, head to Honest Paws for some great product ideas. Here's some other good ideas that can help...
Cooling vest | Cooling Mat | Ice Bandanna | Cooling Toy Ice Cream | Dog Ice Pops | Air Grate For Window | Dog Sunscreen | Foldaway Paddling Pool (Affiliate links)
Keep them in the shade
An obvious one, but the temperature difference between the shade and sunny areas can be huge, so it goes without saying that the shade will keep them cooler, limiting the risk of heat stroke as well as sun burn. When sunshine can't be avoided, just make sure it's in short bursts as opposed to long periods of time, and if your pooch is laying in the sun, gently encourage them back to the shade as they don't always know what's best for them. Harder floors such as tiles can be a welcome relief in a shady area, but you can always add a thin mat or a few favourite toys to make them feel more at ease.
Change walk times
This has been big news this week, with dogs passing out on walks and owners seemingly being unaware that it can be too hot for them as well as the floor temp for their delicate paws. Get up early to walk your dog before the sun and ground get too hot, or leave it until later on in the day when things have cooled off. If you have a garden or outside area they can use to go to the toilet, a quick few minutes outside will be fine, but leave longer walks until it's colder to avoid heat stroke or burnt poorly paws. If changing walk times is not an option, don't take risks. This may be a good time to ask for a neighbour to help out or invest in some time from an experienced dog walker in your area to take your dog out at cooler times of the day, or pop in to check on them.
Give plenty of water
As well as their usual water bowl, add a few more dotted about, perhaps one on the upstairs landing, in a shady garden spot and anywhere else they like to spend time in the day. You can add an ice cube or two to the water to keep them cool, or even give them small ice cubes to play with/lick, or fill up a kong type toy with water and freeze that to keep them busy. There's been lots of talk about whether it's wrong to give ice to dogs or not, but according to vets, a little to cool them is fine, just don't over do it especially if they are big dogs that will eat it straight away as too much too quick can shock their systems.
Don't leave them in a vehicle
Most people are clued up on this now and more alert to watching out for dogs in hot cars, but still year after year dogs are found left in hot cars, with temperatures rocketing. Even with a window left slightly open, the heat inside the car can still reach unsafe temperatures and it's just no place for a dog to be left for any length of time. Aside from cars, avoid leaving dogs waiting outside shops or anywhere without plenty of shade, somewhere comfortable to lay and lots of water to drink. While travelling with your dog, try and keep them cool on route with gel cooling mats, fans and plenty of stops for fresh air, water and toilet time. Also plan your travelling for cooler times of the day, such as very early morning or over night.
Let them laze
Just like us humans, your dog may not feel like doing much on hotter days and that's ok. If they look bored, don't be tempted to work them hard playing with toys or chasing a ball, save that for a night time walk and just keep them comfortable in the day, give them a good brush and a chat while they stay cool.
Protect them from pests
With added heat and moisture, summer is prime breeding time for bugs and our pets can be far more likely to get fleas and ticks, as well as irritation from other bugs. As well as discouraging them from bothering bugs like wasps and bees, it's a good time to make sure they are up to date with any treatments they receive for pest control. You may need to work a little harder keeping the house clear too and spraying your home to stop any issues like fleas getting worse.
It's mostly common sense, but sometimes it does take a while to learn the best things to do for our pets, so I hope this helps someone this summer who may be struggling to keep their dog cool. If you have any more advice that could help other dog owners, please make any suggestions in the comments below...