Did you know that dogs don’t sweat through their skin like humans? Instead, dogs cool down by panting and releasing heat through their paw pads and nose — which is understandably trickier for some breeds than others.
Unfortunately, our dog's go-to cool down tricks aren't the most effective methods of regulating body temperature, which will explain why one in four vets reported treating up to eight cases of heat-related conditions in just one summer. So it’s up to us humans to help dogs stay safe in hot weather, which is why we’ve put together these hot tips to keep your pawed pal cool.
1. Never leave dogs in cars
Of course, top of the list is a reminder to never leave a dog in a car — not even for a few minutes. An open window or a shaded parking spot isn’t enough to keep a car cool and, according to the RSPCA, the temperature of a car can quickly double that of outside. Knowing that a dog struggles to regulate their temperature even when outdoors, it’s not worth the risk.
Similarly, be mindful not to leave your dog in a glass conservatory or a caravan. These can become greenhouses in the sunshine and it’s just as dangerous as if you were to leave them in the car.
2. Make your dog walks cool
No, we don’t mean you need to research the trendiest treks to take your dog on (but if you do, here’s a helpful list of the top 100 pet-friendly places). We mean timing your dog walk for when it’s cooler, so early in the morning or late in the evening. It’s also a good idea to plan a shorter walk than usual, preferably one with plenty of shaded spots.
Don’t forget that your dog’s paw pads can burn, so we’d recommend walking them on the grass, or skipping the walk completely. If you have a dog with light skin, be mindful that their skin can also burn from sun exposure. So just like protecting your own skin, we recommend applying pet-safe sunscreen on the nose, ears, and other exposed areas of your dog.
3. Pack plenty of water
Every owner knows to make sure their dog has access to plenty of fresh water to drink, especially when the sun’s out. If they have a clumsy pup, they’ll also be used to checking their water bowl has not being knocked over. But what about when they’re out on a walk?
Walking in the heat is thirsty work and so water stops will be needed to keep your dog cool. Alongside your keys and poo bags, be sure to pick up a bottle of water if the sun’s out. And if your posh pooch won’t drink straight from the bottle, then we’d recommend investing in one of the many handy foldable water bowls on the market — you can find them online and in almost all pet shops.
4. Try these creative ways to keep them hydrated
Still worried your dog’s not drinking enough? Maybe you can’t keep track of their intake or their lower levels of exercise mean they’re just not as thirsty. Either way, there are a few ways to get those liquid levels up.
Why not treat your dog to Slurps, the tasty drinks for dogs. Not only will your dog likely lap up the treat — helping them stay hydrated — but they’re high in omega 3 fish oils to keep your dog healthy whatever the weather. You could also try giving your dog a refreshing fruity snack that’s fun to make, like Peel With Zeal’s Carrot Watermelon Pupsicles.
5. Remember water isn’t just for drinking
If possible, we recommend treating your pup to a paddling pool. It doesn’t have to be big or expensive, just somewhere your dog can jump in and out of for quick relief from the heat.
We’d recommend putting the pool in the shade so that the water doesn’t heat up in the sun. It’s also a good idea to encourage dogs to dry off inside or in the shade so that they don’t heat back up quickly in the sunshine.
6. Give your dog a good groom
Ever been caught out wearing unnecessarily warm clothes on a hot day? Just imagine how uncomfortable thick-coated dogs like Huskies feel. But while you can slip your clothing off yourself, dogs will need a helping hand.
It’s important that you give your dog a regular groom, as it assists in shedding that extra fur so they feel more comfortable in the sun. For dogs with particularly thick coats, it’s also important to take them to be clipped.
For those clipping their own dog’s coat, it may be tempting to shave them close to the skin to keep them cool — but it’s not recommended. Remember, a dog’s skin can burn like ours, and their fur actually plays an important part in protecting them from the sun.
Bonus tip: know the signs of heat stroke in dogs
Our top six tips to keep your dog cool should help them stay comfortable and avoid any illnesses. However, pet lovers must always be prepared and know how to spot the signs of heatstroke in dogs. So here are some of the signs to look out for:
- Heavy panting
- Profuse salivation
- A rapid pulse
- Very red gums or tongue
- Lack of coordination
- Being reluctant or unable to rise after collapsing
- Loss of consciousness (in extreme circumstances)
If you spot any of these signs, then please seek veterinary advice immediately. And remember, TrustedHousesitters members can call their free Vet Advice Line day or night for help and guidance on this, or any other pet-related topics.