With summer slowly approaching I decided to put together some useful tips for you on how to keep your furry friends cool and safe.
#1 Heat stroke
In my opinion, the most important one to avoid and know the signs of. Heat stroke can be very dangerous. Imagine wearing a winter coat in summer that you can’t take off, you have only small areas on your body that can release the heat and on top of all that, you don’t really have the ability to sweat. That’s what it’s like for a dog. So to avoid weakness, heavy panting, make sure that they always have an access to fresh water and shade. You can also soak a towel in cool water and let the dog lay on it. But don’t try to cool them too fast by giving them iced water, it can actually prevent them from cooling down. Always seek veterinary care if the symptoms carry on.
Always carry extra bottles of water with you! This seems obvious but dogs do go through water more in summer months. Make sure it’s cool by keeping it in shade and as I mentioned before, do NOT use ice cold water. You can try fold up travel dog bowl for water and food, they are easy to carry around and are not expensive or use 2in1 water bottle with tray which tends to be more popular.
#3 Go out during cooler hours
Peak heat time is usually between 11am-3pm so if the forecast says that the day is going to be hotter than usual, definitively avoid those times. Surfaces like asphalt can get really hot which could not just burn dog’s paws but can also increase their temperature. In case of burns, apply pure aloe vera couple of times a day. It will help soothe the area. And of course if you have tiled flooring in your home, you must have one happy dog. Our Labrador Dep goes straight into the kitchen to cool down after a long walk, which makes me sometimes think that they are smarter than us.
#4 Protect from pest and parasites
For this part, it’s best to consult your vet. They will be able to advise you on prevention and treatment. The most common summer parasites are mosquitos and they can be dangerous to dogs because they transmit the heartworm larvae. However they are not so common in UK unless you are near lakes. If you and your furry friend spend a lot of time outdoors, it would be worth to buy a pet safe bug repellent.
#5 Cut or not to cut
So there are different opinions on whether to cut your dog’s coat or not. Shaving is definitively not a good option since dogs can overheat if they don’t have any fur to protect them. Some of them might not even feel very comfortable without their coats. I would say trimming to about 1inch is ideal and it will also prevent sunburn. It’s a good idea to consult a groomer, after all they are the experts. And if you still can’t decide there is always an option of a cooling vest.
#6 Sun protection
Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in dogs. But let’s not also forget the sunburn and the painful peeling skin. Therefore it’s very important that you apply a sunscreen especially on nose, ear tips, bellies and pretty much every least hair covered spot. You can buy products that are specifically designed for dogs with ingredients that are not harmful to them. One of the harmful ingredients is zinc oxide when licked.
#7 Not every dog is a perfect swimmer
I must admit that I was one of those people who used to think that all dogs are natural swimmers. But you have breeds like for example Bulldogs, Dachshunds, Bull terriers or Basset hounds that can’t swim for various reasons like their body shape, stamina or breathing ability. Research your breed, never force them and always be a bit more cautious near deeper waters. All dogs love water and especially in summer months it’s the perfect way to cool them down so the perfect solution is to get them a paddling pool with an umbrella over it. This way you can be sure they are safe and plus they look really cute.
#8 Never leave them alone in the car
It’s just a common sense really. After reading the previous tips, you can see why it is not safe. Car interiors can get hot very quickly. And no, it doesn’t make much difference when you leave the car in shade or you leave windows open. It only takes minutes for the intense heat to affect all of their vital systems. So please, even if you feel bad leaving your dog home alone, it is always better for them to stay at home than suffer in a boiling car.
#9 Heat exhaustion signs
-increased body temperature
-red or pale gums and bright red tongue
-no or small amount of urine
-rapid heart rate
-blood in stool, diarrhea
-mental changes (depression)
#10 Summer safety kit
-pet safe sunscreen (minimum SPF 15)
-pest prevention (nontoxic neem oil)
-fido first aid (travel size bottle of vodka… yep, seriously)!
-special dog back pack especially if you have a big dog to put everything in
So these are my 10 main tips on how to keep your dog safe in summer. Of course the most important thing is to keep an eye on them. You will know when they are not being themselves and hopefully with my advice and signs to look out for you will have a stress free and fun summer with your pooch.