Dogs and Hot Weather
The summer sun always lifts our spirits and engenders the feel good factor. However, the heat isn’t quite so much fun if you happen to be a dog. Having to wear a fur coat doesn’t help and it is harder for dogs than for humans to regulate their own temperatures. The heat can be downright dangerous for dogs so it pays to know how to help them and to recognise the signs of trouble.
Dogs regulate their temperature by panting. This can be exhausting and can quickly become ineffectual. Dogs can succumb to heat stroke in a matter of minutes and this can prove fatal. Look out for the following signs that your dog is struggling:
- Heavy panting
- Their tongue and gums becoming bright pink or red
- Their tongue lolling out of their mouth
- A dry mouth with a mucus-like build up
- Heavy breathing and fatigue
If you think that your dog is overheating then find him a cool place to rest as quickly as possible and provide plenty of cold water. Seek immediate veterinary assistance if your dog does not quickly recover.
Never leave your dog in your car, even for a couple of minutes. You could be unavoidably delayed in returning to your vehicle and temperatures inside the car will rise incredibly quickly even on moderately warm days.
If your dog spends a lot of time outside in the garden then do make sure that there are shady areas for him to sit in. Top up his water regularly and don’t leave him unattended for too long in high temperatures.
Walk your dog during the cooler parts of the day. First thing in the morning and early evening are the perfect times. Take drinking water with you and watch for the signs of overheating. Walk in places where there is access to shade and better still, water to swim in.
Be wary of hot pavements as these can be painful for your dog to walk on. The darker the surface, the hotter it is likely to be. You can test a surface by placing your hands down on it. If you can’t hold your hands down for at least five seconds without it becoming painful then the surface is too hot for your dog to walk on.
If you are out and about regularly with your dog in hot temperatures then it will help them if their coat is clipped. You could also consider investing in a cooling coat for your dog which they can wear if they start to overheat.
Dogs’ skin can easily get burnt. Short haired breeds are at greater risk, especially those with light or white coats. You can apply sunscreen to your dog in order to protect them. This is best used on your dog’s most vulnerable areas which are their nose, their ears, their bellies, their eye lids and around their mouths. Any area where pink skin is showing could be at risk. Use dog sunscreen if you can. You are able to apply human sunscreen but use children’s varieties because dogs can be poisoned by the zinc oxide which features in some human sunscreens.
The summer months can be a real pleasure and enable to enjoy fabulous walks with your pooch but do remember that they may struggle in the heat. By taking a few sensible precautions you can ensure that your dog has a great time in the sunshine.