Summer is the time for being out and about and enjoying the outdoors. But for our canine companions, prolonged sun exposure can cause heatstroke and other risks. Follow our summer safety tips to keep your dog cool in summer and minimise heat stress as the temperature rises.
Unlike us humans, dogs are not able to cool themselves through sweating. That’s why they need plenty of shelter from the sun for them to hide.
Kennels are not the best option for providing shelter in the summer because they can trap heat. On hot days, try to keep pets indoors in a cool area. If that’s not possible, ensure there is a shady and well-ventilated spot outdoors, with access to fresh drinking water.
Providing access to plenty of cool, fresh drinking water is especially important in warmer weather. Use terracotta or plastic bowls rather than metal, which is a heat conductor and evaporates water quicker.
For a refreshing treat, add ice blocks or frozen vegetables (like carrots and cauliflower) to the bowl.
Going for a swim is a great way to cool down in summer – even for our four-legged friends. Fill a kiddie pool with fresh water for your dog to cool off in, and place it in a shady part of the yard. Just make sure that your dog can’t get into the pool without you around, as not all dogs can swim as well as we might expect.
If you’re taking your dog to the beach for a cool down this summer, check that your pooch is allowed off lead. And if you plan to stay awhile, give them a shady spot to rest, like a beach tent.
As the warmer weather approaches, it is important that you keeping on top of their grooming. If a pup’s coat becomes matted and traps moisture after going for a swim, it can lead to painful skin infections called ‘hot spots’.
Having your dog’s coat shaved, well brushed, clean and free of mats can help your dog to stay cool in summer and give them the best chance of preventing infections.
Just as it’s important to book a visit to the dog groomers as the weather heats up, it can be helpful to make a vet appointment too. Dogs tend to stay outdoors longer and be more social in summer and come into contact with other animals, so ensure your dog’s vaccinations are up-to-date.
Additionally, ensure your dog is protected from parasites like fleas, ticks and mosquitoes.
The afternoon heat is the worst time for walkies. Exercise is important all year round, but avoid the hottest part of the day by going for walks in the early morning or evenings, when the sun’s heat is less intense.
Avoid extremely hot days, as the hot asphalt or warm sand can burn their paws.
Overexposure to the sun can cause sunburn in pets, just like their human friends. This is especially risky to breeds with short hair, white fur and pink skin. Not only is sunburn painful, but it places your dog at risk of skin cancer.
Apply sunscreen to your dog’s ears, nose and coat, and limit their exposure to the sun.
Never leave your dog in the car unattended. Dogs can still overheat and die, even when the windows are down or if the vehicle is parked in the shade. It takes just six minutes for a dog to die in a car, according to the RSPCA.
The temperature inside a car can quickly reach more than double the outside temperature, even on mild days. If you must leave your travel buddy unattended for a short time, remove them from the car and ensure they are secured in a safe area with access to water.
Dogs travelling on the back of a ute on hot days are also at risk, as the heat of the tray can burn their footpads or bodies in the sun. Covering the floor of ute trays with a blanket and parking in a shaded area can help reduce the heat risks.
Be mindful of your dog’s breed. Short-nosed (brachycephalic) breeds, such as bulldogs, boxers, Japanese Chin and Pekingese have a low heat tolerance because they don’t pant as efficiently as longer-nosed dogs.
On warmer days, these breeds should be kept inside with the air-conditioning or fan running.
Dogs suffering from heat stress, like dehydration and heatstroke, generally pant heavily, drool excessively and become restless. Other early-stage symptoms of heat stress include bright red gums and tongue and difficulty maintaining balance. Later-stage signs of heat stress can include staggering, vomiting, diarrhoea or seizures.
If your dog begins to show any of these signs, immediately try to bring their body temperature down at a steady rate by getting them into the shade, spraying cool (rather than ice-cold) water on the dog’s body and using a fan to cool them. Don’t use ice, as it may cool your dog down too rapidly, the RSPCA warns.
A bowl of water alone isn’t always enough to treat heatstroke. Severely-affected dogs need intravenous fluids, medication and oxygen. If your dog presents signs of advanced heatstroke, take them to an emergency vet immediately.
The best heatstroke treatment is prevention. Follow our 10 tips for keeping dogs cool in summer and limit the time your dog is exposed to the outdoors in hot weather.
We hope that incorporating these tips into your dog’s daily routine will help them to keep cool in the heat and enjoy a happier and safer summer.
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