Our old dog Ella was a real sun-lover. She'd always seek out the sunniest spots in the garden and bask for hours in the rays. Our new puppy Delilah however, doesn't seem so keen. It's quickly become apparent that she's not a fan of the heat, she shows reluctance to go out on warm days and becomes tired much quicker in the heat. Even her black ears are turning brown in the sun!
Overheating or hyperthermia is a serious risk for dogs in a heat wave and the RSPCA have some excellent advice on the signs to look for and emergency treatment to take if your dog becomes too hot.
Prevention is always better than cure, so these are my top tips to help keep your pooch cool this summer:
1. Dogs die in hot cars.
This should go without saying really. Surely everyone knows this and wouldn't be stupid enough to leave their dog in the car? Nope. Every year it's the same, with reports in the papers of dogs who have died in hot cars.
NEVER leave your dog in the car when it's warm. Not even in the shade. Not even with the windows down. Not even for 5 minutes.
At 22 degrees outside, a car can reach 47 degrees in less than an hour and that's lethal.
Don't do it. Simple.
Remember also that the same can apply to conservatories, caravans and tents.
2. Avoid the mid-day sun
If it's too hot for you to comfortably be out in the sun, then it's definitely too hot for your dog. Hot tarmac and sand on the beach can burn the pads on their feet so alter your routine so you're exercising your dog early in the morning and late at night when it's not so hot. As a general rule, if you can't lay the flat of your palm comfortably on the ground for 15 seconds, then it's too hot for your dog to walk on it.
3. Choose cooler walks
Instead of heading to your favourite park where it's basically a huge open parched field in the sun, opt for shadier locations like a forest or a riverbank where they can cool off in the water if needs be. My general routine is to take the dog on the school runs with me, but now it's getting warmer it's simply too hot to leave her tied to the school gates (where there's no shade) at 3pm. We'll instead do a walk later in the evening when it's cooled off.
4. Water, water, water
Always remember to take a bottle of water with you on summer walks. You could also carry a collapsable bowl or a bottle with a fold out bowl, although our dog will quite happily drink almost straight from the bottle as I pour it, or from cupped hands.
Remember also to check your dog's bowl at home, it will need refilling more often and ensure that the water is changed daily at least.
5. Less running
Delilah would chase a ball all day long given the chance, but she simply becomes too hot in the sun. Instead, limit the amount of free running when it's excessively hot and instead provide mental stimulation by playing games at home in the shade. Treat toys such as Kongs are great for preventing boredom, and you can pop them in a ziplock bag and put it in the freezer before giving it to your dog. Our dog also loves ice cubes - she comes running every time she hears our fridge clinking out ice in a glass. For some cool fun, try scooting some ice cubes across the kitchen floor and letting your hound chase and chew them.
6. Provide somewhere cool at home
Make sure their dog bed isn't in the full sun. They may want to retreat to it more during the day when it's hot, so make sure it's in a shady position. Dogs love to cool down on cold floors and will often seek out ceramic tiles to flatten their tummies to and cool off. Alternatively you could wet a towel and leave that for them to lay on. Make sure you keep your house ventilated with windows open (blinds shut if it's in the full sun) and a fan on if you have one.
If your dog lives outdoors, make sure there's a sheltered, shady area for them to escape from the sun. You can also provide a shallow plastic kid's water pool for them to cool off in.
7. Let them pant!
A dog's main way of regulating their temperature is to pant. If your pooch wears a muzzle or nose collar, make sure it doesn't restrict their ability to open their mouth and pant with their tongue out.
8. Keep them groomed
Some dogs with thick coats or dark fur will suffer in the heat more. Get professional advice from a groomer before trimming their fur as this can actually offer a level of protection against sunburn. Keep coats brushed and tangle free to allow air to circulate to their skin properly. Ticks also thrive in the heat so if your dog enjoys running in long grass, check thoroughly after walks for any who may have snuck aboard.
9. Cool not cold
Very cold water can cause shock and be dangerous to a hot dog. To cool your dog off use cool not ice old water. A mist spray bottle can be useful, but don't turn a freezing cold hose pipe on them. If your dog has overheated, cool down gently by putting a T-shirt soaked in cool water on them or letting they lie on a cool wet towel. Offer them small amounts of cool water and get advice from your vet immediately.
10. Cool products for hot dogs
Last but no means least, there are of course endless products on the market to help keep your dog cool. From doggie ice cream to sun screen, here's a few that have caught my eye.
Do you have any top tips for keeping your pooch cool in the summer?