Summer is finally here, time to keep your dog cool.
Here are 10 ways to keep your dog cool when the temperatures rise
- Walk early or late
- Make sure they have access to shade
- Use a cooling mat (or make your own)
- Put their toys in the freezer
- Bring them inside
- Use a fan
- Get them a cooling coat (or use their dogrobe, or a wet T-shirt)
- Take care of their paws
- Make sure they have access to water (& take some with you on your walks)
- Never, ever leave them in a parked car (even in the shade)
Walk early or late ∼ walking early in the morning or later in the evening means you can avoid the heat in the middle of the day, but still make sure your dog gets their exercise. But, just like us, dogs find it harder work to exercise in the heat so don't be surprised if they don't want to go as far as normal and adjust your walk accordingly.
Give them shade ∼ if your garden has naturally shady spots, encourage them to lie in them by putting their bed or blanket there. And if you don't have any natural shade, don't worry. Just hang a towel or blanket between two chairs to make some and pop their bed in their new den.
Use a Cooling Mat ∼ these come in a couple of varieties. Ones you get wet and ones that are filled with cooling gel that is activated when your dog lies on them. Either one works on the same principal, that dogs cool down better when their tummies are wet or cool (the gel filled ones are brilliant for long car journeys as they won't get your car seats or boot wet). And if you don't have one, making your own is simple. Wet an old towel with cold water, wring it out and then place in the shade for your dog to relax on.
Put their toys in the freezer ∼ chew toys that have been cooled down in the freezer make a good boredom busting treat. You could even freeze them in a container filled with water, then turn it out and let your dog while away the afternoon trying to free their toy from the ice and keeping cool at the same time. Who says dogs can't multi-task?!
Bring them inside ∼ dogs aren't very good at self-policing when it comes to lying out in the sun. Dexter lies out for hours, occasionally switching from sun to shade but most of the time, he's in the sun, baking. If this sounds like your dog, bring them inside for some enforced cooling down.
Use a fan ∼ and once inside, put a fan in front of their bed to speed up the cooling down process. Placing a bowl of water in front of the fan adds to the cooling effect (be careful that they can't cause an accident by tripping over the cable or knocking the water on to the fan and don't leave them on their own with it, just in case).
Wear a Cooling Coat ∼ these work along similar lines to cooling mats. The Techniche Hyperkewl Cooling Dog Coat uses the same technology used for top sports people and each coat provides between 5-10 hours of cooling per soaking whilst being lightweight and durable. The evaporation effect of the coat helps your dog cool down while they wear it. But if you haven't got one, you can get a similar effect (and save money) using a wet Dogrobe or an old T-shirt - the cooling effect won't last as long, but it will help.
Take care of their paws ∼ Pavements and roads heat up throughout the day and dogs can absorb that heat through their paws, which can be uncomfortable for them and contributes to over-heating. If the pavement is hot to the touch, it's probably too hot for your dog to walk on comfortably.
Give them water ∼ always take a bottle of water out on the walk and keep some buckets filled and placed in the shade in the garden (change the water daily to keep it fresh). As well as having it available for them to drink, you can wet their tummy with it as well and this will aid cooling. If your dog does get too hot, room temperature water is better than freezing cold. Really cold water can cause blood vessels to contract which actually slows down the cooling process.
Never, ever leave your dog in a parked car ∼ "Not long", is too long, even in the shade. Cooling themselves down is probably the number one thing dogs aren't very good at and car + dog + heat is a recipe for disaster. Don't risk it.
Other tips include using sunscreen for short haired dogs or those that have lost fur due to allergies or operations. If you are going to use sunscreen and you can't find a dog specific one, ask your vet's advice and avoid ones which contain Zinc Oxide as this can be poisonous to dogs if they lick it off. There's no need to slather it all over your dog, just protect the areas with less hair. And if you've got a long-haired dog, consider leaving it long instead of giving them a short, summer trim. The long hair can actually help your dog regulate their body temperature.