July 27, 2017

Want to know how to keep dogs cool?

We may not have the meteorological know-how to back our suspicions, but here at Lintbells, we’re convinced it’s going to go back to being a scorcher of a summer. And that’s seen our thoughts turn to how to keep dogs cool in when the temperature rises… what are the must-knows of dog safety in summertime?

20+ degrees in a fur coat

Summer’s a great time for pets and people, but as temperatures rise, we need to be mindful of how well our dogs are coping. Sounds obvious, but our dogs are dealing with the same weather conditions we may find uncomfortably warm – and wearing a fur coat they can’t take off!

How do dogs regulate their body temperature?

Lots of people think that dogs can’t sweat, but this isn’t actually true. Our canine (and feline) friends actually do have sweat glands in their noses and paws. That's why on hot days, your dog may leave damp pawprints! As these areas are so small, dogs mainly keep themselves cool by panting: getting air over the blood vessels near the surface of the mouth and throat. This isn’t the most effective a heat regulation mechanism though, so it’s important that we keep an eye on our dogs and help to keep them cool on hot days.

Hot dog – or heat stroke?

Heatstroke is one of the biggest dangers to dogs in summer. It can come on very quickly, and even if treated correctly and quickly, can be fatal. It most typically occurs in three different situations:

  1. Your dog does too much exercise in warm weather – fun in the sun, playing fetch, walking, running or playing with doggie friends.
  2. Your dog can’t cope with heat for a medical reason – some dogs overheat more than others, particularly short-nosed ‘brachycephalic’ breeds or mixes (that’s Pugs, Boston Terriers, French Bulldogs and Boxers). Overweight dogs and heavy coated breeds and mixes are more prone, too.
  3. Your dog is trapped in a hot environment – your dog ends up shut in a car, conservatory, or even just a warm, sunny room.

Heatstroke can kill or cause irreparable damage to internal organs, so it’s vital to take it seriously, do all you can to prevent it, and know what to do should the worst happen – more on that later.

How can I tell if my dog is too hot?

Signs of a too-hot dog Signs of heatstroke
Panting Blue, bright red or dark red tongue and gums
Dribbling High body temperature (104°F or 40°C or more)
Lethargic or restless Wobbliness, weakness or staggering
Grumpy, grumbly or out of sorts Seizures
Off their food Callapsing or unconciousness
Drinking lots of water Blood in poos or urine

It depends whether we’re talking about a dog who is uncomfortably hot, or suffering from heatstroke. It’s important to know the difference – and how to help in both cases.

The only way to really know if your dog is too hot (or not) is to use a thermometer and check. However few of us feel comfortable taking our pets’ internal temperatures – and here at Lintbells we believe prevention is always the best approach.

So instead of worrying if your dog is too hot, why not be proactive about helping them stay cool in hot weather instead? Here are our tried-and-tested dog-chilling favourites...

How to keep dogs cool – 10 top tips

1. Provide a safe, shady den

Move their bed and bedding to a shady spot, and swap warm blankets for an old towel. If they sleep in a crate, spread damp bath towels over the top to create a cool, damp, shady den. If they’ve taken to lying on the bathroom or kitchen floor, let them – tiles can be a great way to cool down.

2. Chill their bed

There are some fantastic ‘cool beds’ and ‘cool mats’ available for dogs. We particularly like gel cool beds – these absorb the heat from your dog’s body, and need no batteries, refrigeration or time in the freezer… ideal for camping and days out. A homemade alternative is a damp towel in a shady spot – or popping your picnic ice packs under their usual blanket.

3. DIY doggie air-con

Got a fan? Got a freezer? Make DIY aircon. Freeze a large container of water – we use ice cream tubs – then set up the fan to blow over the ice towards your dog’s bed. Make sure your dog can’t knock the fan though… pop it on a high surface and angle downwards to keep everyone safe.

4. Change your walkies schedule

If you normally go for a walk at lunchtime and early afternoon, swap your schedule for an early morning walk – before it gets too hot – and a late evening stroll. If you can’t change your routine time-wise, think about where you’re walking. Swap shade-free fields for cool woodland walks, or better still, opt for beaches or lakeside walks so you dog can dive in for a cooling paddle or swim.

5. Protect their paws

More one for urban pooches, but don’t forget that pavements can get seriously hot! Before heading out, touch-test the pavement with your own hand or foot. If you wouldn’t want to walk on it barefoot, don’t ask your dog to do the same. If you must be out and about on hot pavements, consider some protective boots and a cool coat – more on that below.

6.Get a cool coat

If you have to be out and about in hot weather, consider a Cool Coat. Just wet the coat, then pop it on your dog – the cool dampness creates heat exchange with your dog’s body, so they effectively ‘sweat’ like a person. There are many different brands available, but we like the MOD-endorsed Keep Cool coats.

7. Visit the groomers

If your dog is a breed or mix that can be clipped, get regular trims in summertime. Many double coated breeds shouldn’t be clipped or trimmed – but will find relief in a really thorough grooming to get any insulating dead hair out.

8. Cool them down with water

Not all dogs love water, but most will appreciate its cooling effects on hot days. For the natural water babes, set up a paddling pool in your garden, and encourage them to paddle or wallow! For those who aren’t so keen, a wet flannel (or quick hose down!) on the belly, chest and legs will help them cool down without resorting to a full shower or bath. It goes without saying that you should always provide lots of cool water at all times – though on hot days, you might pop an ice cube or two in their bowls.

9. Put the toys away

Not all dogs are as sensible as they should be on hot days! So if it’s really warm, pop their toys away for the day so they don’t accidentally over-exercise and end up with heatstroke. Same goes with games like fetch, and playing with their friends. If you have more than one dog – and they love to play – consider separating them on the hottest days.

10. Make doggie ice lollies – the ‘pupsicle’

We love to make doggie ice lollies! There are some more elaborate recipes here, but you can also freeze their regular food. We use old plastic takeaway boxes, layer wet food on the bottom, sprinkle over with kibble, add water and the lid, then pop in the freezer. For extra cold treats (without the extra calories) freeze their favourite toys in an old ice cream tub… they’ll have fun and keep cool freeing their toys from the ice!

How do you and your dog keep cool in summer? We’d love to know all your ideas, top tips and favourite products. Please do leave a comment and share with our community.

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