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How to keep your dog cool in the summer

Most of us are familiar with ways to keep ourselves cool in the summer (we're talking Sangria, skinny dipping and those funky hats with the straws right?). But do you know how to keep your dog cool when the mercury is tickling 30 degrees? 

We share the best and safest ways to keep your dog cool in hot weather (spoiler: Sangria is not included).

Provide your dog with plenty of cool water

It goes without saying that your dog should have access to fresh, clean water all year round but during those hot summer months, you must ensure their water bowls remain filled, out of the sun and, if possible, make more available to them.

If you have more than one dog, one water bowl should be provided per dog and if you have a garden or outdoor area they have regular access to, also consider placing bowls out here as well. 

Oh, and don’t forget your reusable water bottles if you're taking your pet out for the day.

Top tip: for extra easy packing and carrying, invest in a collapsible bowl.

Be prepared with essential products

The best way to keep your dog cool in warmer weather is to be completely prepared before it even hits. This way you can feel assured that your pet won’t head into that overheating stage – prevention is better than blind panic reaction.

There are some absolutely amazing products available online and in pet stores these days which can be used on every pet that could be at risk of suffering during the summer. Some of the most popular choices include:

Cooling mats

Invest in a cooling mat that is filled with a non-toxic gel. They will typically keep at 5-10 degrees cooler than room temperature for approximately one hour and will help to ensure that your dog’s body temperature is cool yet comfortable.

Shade tents

Shade tents are a simple yet effective way of creating a little bit of relief from those sun rays no matter where you go. They easily pop up, making them ideal for trips out, the garden, days out on the beach and so on.

Pet paddling pools

These are a fun and easy way of encouraging your pet to stay cool in summer (ngl, we definitely want one).

Most varieties are reinforced to prevent tears from pesky claws. Simply fill with water and let your pets enjoy all the water fun.

Top tip: throw in some water suitable toys to encourage your dog to take a dip.

Cooling vests

A cooling vest not only looks funky, it provides a comfortable way of gently cooling your dog (as long as they are perfectly happy wearing it).

Place the cooling vest into cold water, wrung it out and put it on your dog. They'll be the coolest canine on the street (in more ways than one). 

Simple methods to keep your dog cool

The simplest ways to keep your pet cool in summer are:

Grooming

Keeping your dog’s fur well groomed or cut will be helping to remove layers of insulation which allows their body temperature to cool much faster.

Shade

It's best to stay out of the sun between the hours of 11am - 3pm and ensure that there is sufficient shade for any pet that may be kept outside or is spending a significant amount of time outside. 

Make full use of the shade provided by trees but also use umbrellas, sheets, sail shades etc to create more shade within your garden and always encourage your dog to lay underneath them. 

Spray Water

Spray water across your lawn and onto any paved areas to help to cool the air and provide a safe place for them to walk or roll around. Don’t forget that with heat comes the chance of burned paw pads so always use the back of your hand to check the temperature of any path or patio.

Top tip: be wary of artificial grass which can reach much higher temperatures than natural grass.

Keep your house cool

Make sure to close curtains to prevent the room from overheating, open up windows upstairs and, if applicable, also open your loft hatch.

Place fans within the home with a bowl of ice just in front of them, this will cool the air you are circulating or better still, purchase an air con machine.

Keep exercising your dog to a minimum

Exercise times should be restricted to the coolest parts of the day. During the summer this tends to be before 7am and after 8pm. Anything in between can lead to a big risk of heat exhaustion or heat stroke.

Signs of heat stroke in your dog

As a dog owner it is really important to understand the signs of heat stroke and these can include:

  • Excessive panting and dribbling
  • Confusion
  • Inability to stand
  • Foaming at the mouth
  • Vomiting
  • Collapsing
  • Bright red gums
  • Shaking or convulsions
  • Diarrhoea

If you see any of these signs at any point during the summer, contact your vet immediately.

  • Move the dog to a shaded and cool area
  • Immediately pour cool (not freezing cold to avoid shock) water over the dog. If possible, you can also use wet towels or place them in the breeze of a fan
  • Allow the dog to drink small amounts of cool water
  • Continue to pour cool water over the dog until their breathing starts to settle, but not too much that they start shivering

Dogs that are more likely to overheat than others:

Most dogs can feel uncomfortable on hot days because they do not have the ability to sweat and cool as we do. However, due to breed or health conditions, some dogs can struggle more than others. You may find that these types of dogs will need an extra helping hand when it becomes hot:

  • Flat-faced dogs with shorter noses such as Pugs, Bulldogs and Pekingese can struggle to lose heat through panting and are more at risk of developing heat stroke. You will want to keep these breeds indoors with fans and cooling mats.
  • Dogs with thick coats such as your German Shepherd, Husky or Chow Chow are also more likely to get hot very quickly. Regular grooming will help to remove those thick layers of coat to help to keep them cool. 
  • Giant dog breeds such as Irish Wolfhounds, St Bernards and the Mastiff breeds can struggle to keep themselves cool simply because of their larger size. Keep them inside and nicely cooled during a heat wave.
  • Older dogs or dogs with ongoing health problems/on medication are usually more sensitive to hot weather, so be aware that they could overheat more easily than other dogs. Keep a closer eye on them in the summer months and provide them with that TLC they need.
  • Overweight dogs who are carrying a little bit of an extra bulk can also struggle to keep themselves cool, as their body is under additional strain and has more, ummm, insulation. They would benefit from the pet paddling pool and a cool house. This could also be a good time to review their diet and switch to a more suitable, low-fat food.
  • Active dogs can struggle in the summer because they don’t tend to know when to stop. Avoid encouraging extra play, ball games or zoomies and practise getting them to have a time out during those hotter hours of the day.

How hot is too hot for my dog?

We all have different opinions on what feels hot and what doesn’t but when it comes to your dog you really do need to put yourself into their paws when considering how hot is too hot.

Some animals do not sweat so cannot regulate their body temperatures the way we can and the majority of our dogs wear a permanent fur coat so unlike us, they can’t just pop into a cooler t shirt.

As mentioned above, some dogs will find the heat tougher than others due to particular factors whilst others will happily lay in the sun with no worries at all but they don’t have the understanding that this could lead to heat related issues later on in the day.

As their owners, we have a duty of care to keep them cool, to provide water and shade and keep a close eye on how they are coping.

For a pet, 20°c is hot and anything over 25°c is when we should be keeping them out of the summer sun and not walking them. To you, this may seem like a lovely temperature but for them, it could become life threatening.

Have a happy, pet safe summer!

If you provide some of these methods and tips to keep your pet cool in summer you can all enjoy it in a fun and safe way. And that’s really all we want, isn’t it?

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