Tips for Summer
As temperatures rise, please see these tips to keep your pets cool in the summer sun ....
Dogs can suffer fatal heatstroke within minutes. Unlike us, our furry friends can’t sweat through their skin and so they rely on panting and releasing heat through their paw pads and nose to regulate their body temperature and keep cool.
Imagine wearing a thick winter coat on a hot summer’s day and you’ll understand why dogs succumb to heatstroke so easily!
Signs of heatstroke in dogs include: collapse, excessive panting, and dribbling.
If you suspect your pet is suffering from the condition, move them to a cool place, preferably with a draught, wet their coat with cool - not freezing - water, and contact your vet immediately.
Once a dog shows signs of heatstroke the damage is often already done, which is why it’s so important to prevent it.
Please never leave your dog in a car, even for a minute! A car can become an oven very quickly even when it doesn’t feel that warm. When it is 22°c outside - within an hour - the temperature in a car can reach an unbearable 47°c.
Can I smash a window to free a dog from a hot car?
If you see a dog in distress inside a car, official advice is to dial 999 immediately and ask for the police. A dog in distress in a hot car is an emergency and the police will advise you what to do based on the situation. Depending on the severity of the situation, the police may attend and break into the car to gain access to the dog, or they may advise you to do this. If you decide to break into a car without proper justification, this could be classed as criminal damage and you may need to defend your actions in a court. Call the police using 999 and tell them what you intend to do and why. Take pictures and/or videos of the dog in distress and the names and phone numbers of witnesses. The Criminal Damage Act 1971 provides a lawful excuse to commit damage if you believe that the owner of the property that you damage would consent to the damage if they knew the circumstances (under section 5(2)(a).
Tips to Keep Your Dog Cool & Prevent Heatstroke
Make sure your dog has access to clean water at all times, ideally a large bowl filled to the brim. Carry water and a bowl with you on walks.
On hot days, walk your dog during the cooler parts of the day, in the early morning and late evening
Watch your dog for signs of over-heating, including heavy panting and loss of energy. If you recognise these signs when on a walk, stop, find a shady spot and give your dog water.
Never leave your dog alone in a car, even with the windows open
Make cooling tasty treats by making ice cubes with your dog’s favourite food inside
Soak towels/ toys in water and freeze to make cooling toys
Make a tasty lollipop for your dog by stuffing a Kong with soaked kibble or their meat and pop in the freezer- I like to use some Forever Aloe Gel to add more nutrients
Be particularly careful with short nosed dogs such as bull breeds, boxers, pugs, older dogs, and those that are overweight. These dogs can get heatstroke simply by running around.
Keep dogs in the shade in the summer heat
Potentially invest in a cool coat to cool your dog down. The best ones have the cooling action part around your dog's chest and belly.
Exercising in the summer
Walk your dog at the cooler times of the day, either first thing in the morning or early evening
Dogs’ paw pads can burn on hot pavements. As a general rule, if it’s too hot for your hand it’s too hot for their paws.
If it’s too hot for the usual long walk, keep your dog mentally stimulated by doing some brain games instead. Refresh their basic training with some sits and stays, or teach them new tricks.
Swimming is excellent exercise for dogs and a great exercise alternative to walking in the summer heat. But remember that not all dogs like to swim, so if yours doesn’t then don’t force them and never throw a dog into water
At the Beach
Be wary of tides
Drinking salt water is likely to make your dog sick and isn’t very good for them. Bring fresh water with you to the beach.
Wash salt and sand off your dog’s coat after swimming to prevent it drying and irritating their skin
Be careful to avoid heatstroke on the beach
Dogs can and do drown in rivers and the sea. If your dog has inhaled water, contact your vet, as they can suffer complications.
Sadly, each year dog owners drown trying to rescue their pets. Don’t risk dangerous situations.
Summer skin and coat
Pale-coloured dogs are vulnerable to sunburn, particularly on their ears, noses and sparsely haired areas. Sun damage can lead to skin cancer which may require extensive surgery – even amputation in severe cases. Sunlight can also make existing skin conditions worse, particularly if your dog has allergies.
The best prevention is to keep your dog indoors when the sun is strongest, between 11.00am and 3.00pm. Alternatively, pop a T-shirt on your dog and cover vulnerable areas to protect them. You can also apply a non-toxic waterproof human sunblock or one specifically made for pets. If your dog’s skin looks sore, crusty or scaly, call your vet.
Forever Aloe Vera Veterinary Formula can also be used to maintain a healthy coat, and soothe mild irritations (please contact us for more information).
Grooming your dog is important in the summer months, especially for long haired breeds, to get rid of matts and tangles. A tangle-free coat will protect your pet’s delicate skin and help to keep them cool. Plus, if your pet’s coat is dirty and matted then you run the risk of flies laying their eggs and becoming maggots. Some breeds may need their coats trimming to keep them comfortable. Ask a professional groomer for advice.