With temperatures set to soar again this weekend, it is sometimes good to have a little refresher course on the best way to keep our pets cool and comfortable. Read on for some top tips and things to look out for when caring for your pet this summer.
Provision of cool water is vital even in the mildest of heat. Make sure your pet always has access to water, day or night, when you’re travelling, on walks, vet visits – in short, everywhere! Invest in a good travel bowl or water dispenser. These can vary quite a bit so you may need to experiment to see if your pet has a preference.
Never underestimate the importance of shade. The temperature can vary alarmingly between direct sunlight and shaded areas, so make sure your pet has access to shade wherever you are. Choose woodland walks or invest in a parasol for the beach.
Dog’s paws are nowhere near as tough as even the flimsiest of our shoes. Their pads are not dissimilar to our thumb pad.
So, if you’re not sure about the temperature of the ground press your thumb against it for 20 seconds and see how it feels. Utilise shade, grass and earth as surfaces to walk on as concrete and asphalt get brutally hot much more quickly.
Keep your dog as well-groomed as possible. Long haired breeds should be clipped for the summer, especially those such as Huskies or German Shephard types. However, never let your groomer remove their undercoat. As much as this keeps them warm in the winter it also keeps them cool in the summer, so leave it be.
If your pet has white fur, a thin coat or exposed patches of low pigment (pink) skin, or indeed if they like to sunbathe on their back, you will need to use a pet friendly sunscreen. Human sunscreens have harmful ingredients such as zinc oxide and para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA), these ingredients are toxic to dogs if ingested, and dogs will often lick their skin and accidentally ingest the sunscreen. Make sure to apply to ears, noses and bellies.
If you have a dog that is required to wear a muzzle when out and about, for whatever reason, try to avoid taking them out when the weather is very hot.
Even the superb Baskerville Ultra muzzle will restrict heavy panting a little, so why put them through it unless absolutely necessary?
Simply don’t do it. No dog has ever been seriously negatively affected by missing the odd walk in the heat. If you can’t get out very early or very late in the day, then simply don’t go. Your dog will actually thank you for it.
Treats and food
Freeze your dog’s food or give it already frozen. Your Natural Instinct food can be defrosted just enough to get it into a Kong and given that way. Additionally, give treats frozen. Any of the Natural Instinct range of treats can be given frozen or put inside a Kong which you can fill with water, fruit or veg and then freeze into a doggy pupsicle.
If you think your pet has heatstroke, here are some signs to look out for:
- - Panting, which will increase as the heatstroke progresses
- - Drooling or salivating
- - Acting lethargic and sleepy or sometimes becoming agitated
- - Bright red tongue
- - Very red or pale gums
- - Increased heart rate
- - Breathing distress
- - Vomiting, diarrhoea (possibly with blood)
Treatment for heatstroke is to make the dog as cool as possible. Remove the dog to a cool area, use cool (not very cold) water and apply to lips, ears and coat.
Apply a wet towel but for no more than 5 minutes as it will begin to heat up.
Try to get the dog to drink small amounts. Seek veterinary help immediately even if you think your pet has made a full recovery.
By Animal Behaviourist, Kirsten Dillon