With warmer days rolling in, there are a few steps you can do to protect your dogs this summer. Summer usually means getting outdoors more, this is true for dogs too. However higher temperatures are not fun for everyone, it can be dangerous for dogs who can suffer from the heat. Dogs can be prone to sun burn and heatstroke more than humans if not checked regularly. With special care and regular checking in with our furry friends we can all enjoy the weather this summer. The following information outlines what you should and should not do on hot days.
Caring for your dog on a hot day
It is essential you keep an eye on your dog when temperatures are higher. As humans we know when to hydrate, cool ourselves down and rest in the shade when the weather is hot. Our furry friends cannot protect themselves without our help. You should try to keep your dog inside away from the heat of the sun. On warmer days if you happen to be away from home ask a neighbour to check in on your pet. You should also create a cool shaded space for your pet to escape to when they are outside.
When away from home make sure your pet has two water bowls just in case one gets knocked over. You can also add some ice cubes to keep the water cooler for longer. To cool your pet down, try lightly spraying them with a light sprinkle from the hose. For more fun you can give them a paddling pool to allow them to cool down. Always watch your pet when they are playing around water, never let them swim unsupervised.
You should avoid the hottest hours of the day when walking your pet. Aim to bring them for a walk in the early morning or evening when temperatures are cooler. Always bring water on your walks and take regular breaks in shaded spots if needed. If it is still quite warm perhaps take shorts walks and avoid hills or areas that require strenuous activity. Don’t forget about their paws, the ground and concrete can seriously burn your dog’s paws if it is too hot. Try walking on grassy areas or in a wood/forest where the ground would be cooler in the evenings.
Things you should avoid on a hot day
It goes without saying you should not forget to check in on your dog. If you are leaving your home do not forget to leave out more than enough water. This is very important in keeping your dog cool and also hydrated throughout the day. Avoid exercising your dog during the warmer hours of the day aim to bring them for short walks in the evenings or early mornings when it is cooler outside. Excessive exercise can exhaust your dog, don’t let them over do it when temperatures are higher.
It’s not recommended to travel but if you have to travel with your pet, do not travel in a poorly ventilated vehicle, make sure you provide cool air and start for breaks on your journey. And not under any circumstances should you ever leave your dog in a car or conservatory on a hot day. Not even with the windows open or air conditioning on. On a 23°C day, the temperature inside your car will reach 43°C in under a half an hour, you wouldn’t want to be stuck in this situation so do not put your dog through this suffering as it can lead to potentially fatal heatstroke.
How to tell if your dog has heatstroke
During hot weather you should always check in with your pet. By keeping an eye on them you may spot these common symptoms of heat exhaustion and heatstroke. These symptoms are the easiest to detect if your dog has heatstroke but there are more symptoms than what’s listed here. If you are concerned about your dog acting sickly, tired, or unusual during the hot summer days, do not ignore it! Give your local vet a call because keeping your dog safe and healthy is the number one priority.
Excessive panting – If your dog is panting continuously and faster than usual, they could be overheated. Dogs with flat faces are more susceptible to heatstroke due to not being able to pant as efficiently.
Dehydration – Signs that your dog may be dehydrated include dry nose visible tiredness, excessive panting, and sunken eyes.
Drooling – Watch out for lots of drool or droll which may be thicker and stickier than normal.
Fever – Check your dogs’ nose, if it is dry and hot instead of being wet and cool, they may have a fever. If your dog’s temperature is above 41.1?C it is abnormal and should be checked out.
Gums – If your dog’s gums have changed colour (bright red, grey, bluish, purple) and are not their usual colour, your dog may be dehydrated.
Lack of Urine – Your dog may have trouble producing urine if they are dehydrated or overheated.
Muscle tremors – Heat exhaustion can cause dogs to shiver or shake regardless of the temperature outside.
Lethargy – If your dog is weak, napping more than usual, or struggling to stand up or walk they may be over heated.
Vomiting/diarrhoea – Abnormal soft stool or stool containing blood in it is a red flag for heat exhaustion.
Dizziness – If your dog is struggling to walk straight or starts bumping into furniture it could be caused from dehydration or heat exhaustion.
What to do if you think your pet has heatstroke
- Move your dog to a cooler shaded environment preferably indoors and away from the heat.
- Lower their temperature by using cool water all over. Do not use freezing cold water as this can be just as dangerous as heat exhaustion, use cool water only. Apply cool water around paws and ears to help reduce fever.
- Keep checking their temperature, if it is above 41.1°C it is abnormal, if it drops below this then you can stop applying water. As your dog cools down give them small amounts of cool water, again not cold! And refrain from giving them ice.
- Call your vet as soon as possible! If your dog has started to recover and cool down, they still might need to be checked out and monitored. Your vet will advise you further.
- When travelling with your dog, make sure you either have the windows down or the air conditioning on to keep the temperature of the car down and to lower your dog’s body temperature.
- If they become severely ill you need to get to a vet quickly, do not wait and see if it will pass, your dog may need medical attention.
Summer is a great time of year to get outside, it can be lots of fun for you and your dog, you just need to pay a little extra attention to your dog on those warmer days. If you are still in doubt or have any questions or concerns about caring for your dog this summer, please contact your veterinarian, they can advise you further. Here at Kilkenny SPCA we take great care of all animals throughout those warm days and would love your support, to donate and help animals in need click here.