It's a scorcher of a summer out there – for a few weeks at least. 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.
Our thoughts have turned to ways of keeping dogs calm and cool, and why it is so important to take this seriously. Here are our top tips on how to keep your dog cool over the summer:
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 underneath 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 so that it blows over the ice and sends cool air towards your dog’s bed. To ensure that your dog doesn’t knock the fan, pop it on a high surface and angle downwards to keep everyone safe.
4. Change your dog-walking schedule
If you normally go for walkies with your dog at lunchtime and early afternoon, swap your schedule for an early morning walk and a late evening stroll to avoid the midday heat. If you can’t change your routine time-wise, think about where you’re walking. Swap open fields for cool woodland walks, or better still opt for beaches or lakeside walks so your dog can dive in for a cooling paddle or swim. We've put together a handy quiz for you to find out how many miles you should walk your dog here.
Your pup will thank you for walkies in cool woodland walks
5. Protect your dog's paw
Do you have an urban pooch? If so, don’t forget that pavements can get seriously hot! Before heading out, touch-test the pavement with your own hand or foot. If its too hot for your hand, or 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 as detailed below.
6. Get a cool coat
If you must be out and about in hot weather, consider a cooling 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 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 and setting up a paddling pool in your garden will encourage your pup to paddle or wallow on days hot for your dog. 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 drinking water for your pet. On especially hot days, consider popping an ice-cube in their water bowl to keep it chilled.
9. Put the toys away
Not all dogs are as sensible as they should be on hot days, so if it’s warm, consider popping their toys away for the day so they don’t accidentally over-exercise and end up with heatstroke. The same advice goes for games like fetch and playing with their canine friends. If you have more than one playful dog, 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 tubs – they’ll have fun and stay cool whilst freeing their toys from the ice!
How do dogs regulate their body temperature?
Lots of people think that dogs can’t sweat, but this isn’t the case. Our canine (and feline) friends have sweat glands in their noses and paw pads. Have you ever noticed your pet leaving damp pawprints on hot days? This is why! As the areas with glands are so small, dogs mainly keep themselves cool by panting. However, this isn’t the most effective mechanism to regulate your dogs’ body temperature, so it’s important that we keep an eye on our dogs and help to keep them cool on hot days. Taking the above tips into mind during the summer months will keep tails wagging and most importantly, can help to alleviate the threat of canine heat stroke.
A refreshing dip during a hot walk is a great idea - just watch out for the post-swim shake!
Heat stroke: The Danger
Heatstroke is one of the biggest dangers to dogs in summer. It can progress very quickly, and even if treated swiftly, can be fatal. It most typically occurs in three different situations:
Your dog does too much exercise in warm weather – fun in the sun, playing fetch, walking, running, or playing with doggie friends.
Your dog can’t cope with heat for a medical reason – some dogs overheat more than others, particularly overweight dogs, heavy-coated breeds, and short-nosed ‘brachycephalic’ breeds or mixes (that’s Pugs, Boston Terriers, French Bulldogs, and Boxers among others).
Your dog is trapped in a hot environment such as a hot car, conservatory, or even just a warm, sunny room.
Heatstroke can kill or cause irreparable damage to internal organs, so it’s vital that you take it seriously and do all you can to prevent it. Here is our go-to list of signs which can warn you that your dog might be overheating.
How can I tell if my dog is too hot?
It depends whether we’re talking about a dog who is uncomfortably hot or suffering from heat stroke. It’s important to know the difference – and how to help in both cases.
Signs of a dog who’s too hot
Signs of heatstroke
Blue, bright red or dark red tongue and gums
High body temperature (104°F or 40°C or more)
Lethargic or restless
Wobbliness, weakness or staggering
Grumpy, grumbly or out of sorts
Off their food
Collapsing or unconsciousness
Drinking lots of cool water
Blood in poos or urine
One way to really know if your dog is too hot (or not) is to use a thermometer and check. However, few of us feel confident taking our pets’ internal temperatures and here at Lintbells we believe that prevention is always the best approach. Keep our 10 top tips in mind in the summer months to avoid any risk to your pooch, and if you are worried about heat stroke, act fast and contact your nearest veterinary care centre.
Ensure that there is ample opportunity for your dog to cool off as the temperature rises.
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.