Keeping your dog safe in the Summer heat

Humidity is just as dangerous as heat

The ambient temperature is important. But humidity can also affect your pet. Dogs pant to evaporate moisture from the lungs, which in turn removes heat from their body. If the humidity is too high, they can't cool themselves and their core body temperature can soar horribly quickly. 

How do you know when your dog is too hot? The best way is to take their temperature. If it goes above 104 degrees they're at risk of heatstroke, so act fast. 

Fur doesn't cool dogs down

It's an old wives' tale. Long fur doesn't actually cool a dog down. The truth is, it heats up. Imagine yourself wearing a fur coat on a summer's day and you'll know exactly how an overheated dog feels! As a general rule if you're too hot, your dog is probably too hot. 

The pros and cons of fans and cooling mats

Fans aren't much good. Because dogs sweat primarily through their feet, fans don't cool them as much as they do humans.  But dog cooling mats are excellent. Here's an example. They stay cool and are a lovely place for your pooch to chill, indoors and out. 

Dogs and cars – heat kills!

Every summer we hear awful stories about dogs dying in cars, left in the sun with nothing to drink and no fresh air. Everyone knows it's dangerous to leave a dog in a vehicle. Ideally you'd avoid it altogether. Even short journeys in hot cars can make dogs poorly.

If you really can't avoid leaving your pooch in the car for a short while, crack the windows open so cool air can get in. Or turn on the air conditioning. Park the car in the shade. Leave a dish of water for them to drink and check on them regularly. 

Monitor hot weather play and activity

Dogs adore to play. But in hot weather they can soon get overheated. Being too hot means they risk heatstroke, sunburn and dehydration, which can make them very ill and can even kill. 

When it's hot it's best not to play hard and fast games with balls and sticks, or run about too much. A nice, steady walk is much safer, and early morning / late evening walks are much cooler. Walking early morning and evening will also protect their feet from getting burned on boiling hot pavements.

Always take a bottle of water and a dish with you. If possible take a shaded route under trees or walk near a stream. You can take an old washing up liquid bottle full of cool water to squirt on your pooch if they overheat. The best places to cool a dog down are the neck, foot pads and tummy.

If your dog wants to slow down, let them. If they want to jump in water they're probably too hot, so let them do it. But it's better to stay cool in the first place, since pond, lake and river water often contain nasty parasites and bacteria.

Avoid deadly conservatories

A conservatory is one of the hottest places in the home on a sunny day, and one of the worst places to leave your dog if the forecast is for hot weather. Even on days when it's warm but not sunny, a conservatory can heat up alarmingly fast. It's best not to put your pooch in there at all but if you absolutely have to, make sure you open all the windows and leave plenty of water... and only leave them there for the shortest possible time.

Dog house blues

If you need to leave your pet indoors in a crate, make sure it's in a cool spot and again, leave plenty of fresh water for them to drink.

Flat-faced dogs are at extra risk

Flat-faced dogs like bulldogs and pugs should never be left out in the heat, or even exercise in it, unless your vet advises otherwise. Because they usually have a small trachea and a long soft palate, they're less able to cool themselves.

Muzzle no-no

A muzzle is a big no-no when it's hot. Because dogs cool down by panting, muzzles prevent them from staying cool.

Summer garden fun

Do you leave your pooch outdoors? If there's no shade in your garden, create some. A basic wooden roofed structure with no sides will help them stay cool, a bit like a doggy car port. Make it big enough for them to lie under in comfort without having to screw themselves into a ball. It's also good to leave a bath of water, for example a child's paddling pool, to sit in and play in or a garden sprinkler that can spray themselves down with.

Cool baths

If your dog gets too hot they'll appreciate a lovely, cool bath.

Steer clear of crowds

Crowds increase the chances of injury, dehydration and exhaustion in dogs, so keep away from crowded places in hot weather.  

Doggie sunscreen

Yes, you can buy sunscreen for dogs. What a good idea. It can help protect dogs against skin cancer, as reported in the Daily Mail.

What about your tips?

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