A hot dog might be a great snack – but it’s not a great descriptor for your pooch.
An overheated dog can suffer from some serious health issues. The higher their body temperatures, the more severe the symptoms become. That’s why it’s so important to have a plan in place when you’re taking your dog for walks in hot weather.
Whether it’s finding opportunities to sit down in a shady spot from time to time or making sure you have plenty of fresh water on hand, keeping your dog cool is essential.
Today, we’re going to cover everything you need to know about how to cool down a dog.
Managing Dog Body Temperatures
Dogs aren’t the same as human beings – although we often think of them as members of the family. Unlike us, your dog doesn’t use its skin to perspire (sweat) and cool itself down. Instead, their coat is designed to keep them warm in colds weather, and cool in warm weather.
While dogs have sweat glands in their ear canals and paws, sweating is only a minor part of what they do to keep themselves cool. Rather dogs are more likely to use panting to cool down – you’ve probably seen evidence of this in your pooch after they’ve been for a run.
When the temperature heats up, your dog absorbs heat just like anything else. To keep cool, dogs seek out cool places in the shade where they can lie down and absorb some of the coolness around them. The blood vessels in your dog dilate in the skin and tongue, bringing hot blood closer to the surface, so it’s easier to cool down faster.
Because dogs evaporate a lot of their heat through their tongue, they also need a lot of cold water to top up their water supplies. This is why it’s so important to make sure you have a water source on hand when you’re out walking with your pooch.
Signs of Heat Stroke: What to Watch For
Pet parents need to be extra cautious when taking their dog out in the sun. Although your pooch might love running around in the great outdoors during summer, lack of access to a water bowl, air condition, and other cooling comforts can be problematic.
Heat stroke in a dog can be potentially fatal, and requires attention immediately from a vet. The signs of heat stroke include:
- Heavy panting or excessive panting
- Excessive drooling
- Shaking in the hind legs
- Lack of energy or inability to move
- Purple gums
- Redness of the skin
- Excessive sweating from the paws
If you notice any of these signs when engaging in outdoor activities with your dog, get them to a shady area and cover them in cool towels to help them cool down. You can also keep ice water or empty a bottle of water into a bowl for your dog to drink when he feels able. Don’t cover your dog in ice as this can be too much shock to the system.
Call a vet to get advice or contact someone as soon as possible to help you get your dog to a vet when possible.
Should You Still Walk Your Dog During Summer?
While excess body heat in warm weather is a worry for dog owners, it’s important to ensure your pooch is still getting the right amount of exercise. Dogs still need regular walks and summer fun. Just try to avoid exposing them to too much sun during the worst days of the summer heat.
Walking early in the morning or later in the day will help you to avoid the hottest parts of the day. It’s also worth taking walking routes where you’ll have access to shade, like through parks and wooded areas. Set an easy pace for your dog, even if they like to run, so they don’t wear themselves out too quickly.
It’s also worth being aware of how hot the pavement beneath your dogs paws can be. Check the temperature of the road to ensure it’s not too hot, as it could burn your dog’s paw pads. Protect their paws with balms and moisturizers when the ground is warm.
Tips for Keeping your Dog Cool
Waiting for cooler times of day to take your dog for a walk and making sure there’s always access to a shaded spot in a hot environment can help to keep your dog safe and healthy. The most important thing you can do when taking your dog out in summer, is make sure they have access to hydration. Just as you need a bottle of water to keep you going on a hot day, your dog needs one too.
Other ways to look after your dog include:
- Investing in a garden pool: Is there anything better than a dip in a cool pool when the sun is shining? Just as we like relaxing in the pool during summer, your dog does do. A small paddling pool filled with cool water is a great treat for your dog. Place the pool in a shady spot of your garden, and make sure it’s not filled with water too much.
- Encourage your dog to drink: If you don’t notice your dog drinking regularly, try encouraging them to do so by petting them and bringing them over to the bowl. If they’re not drinking, but they seem like they need to cool down, you can also encourage them to simply stand in the paddling pool for a short amount of time.
- Cooling mats and ice packs: Cooling mats and ice packs are brilliant in summer. Dogs will naturally gravitate towards a cool surface when feeling overheated, and there are plenty of specially designed cooling mats to help your pooch out during summer. You can also try freezing an ice pack and placing it in your dog’s bed.
- Make the most of your towels: You can dampen down a super absorbent Paws and Presto towel and use it to cool your furry friend when they’re too warm. Try not to make the towel too icy cold, as this will overwhelm and upset your furry pal. A cool towel is great for reducing body temperature and stopping your dog from getting heat stroke. Don’t leave the towel on for too long as it can heat up too.
- Ice lollies: There are some fun recipes online which teach you how to make treats for dogs in your freezer. You can freeze some ice with your dog’s favourite treat inside or fill a bowl with some low-salt stock and freeze that.
- Keep the air conditioning available: Even if you don’t have an air conditioner in your home, it’s best to have a fan available when you need it. Placing a fan next to your dog’s typical lounging spot or opening a window will give them a nice breeze to enjoy.
- Play with nature: If you’re lucky enough to live near a beach or lake, you can always allow your dog to take a dip here too. Have your Paws and Presto towel on hand to wrap them up before they get in the car.
Keep your Dog Cool
Keeping your dog cool in summer is a crucial part of making sure they stay healthy in the hot sun. As wonderful as summer playtime can be with your dog, it can also be extremely dangerous to your dog. Make sure your pooch stays safe in the heat.