Until very recently it seemed as though we had been waiting an unreasonably long time for the seasons to change in the UK. April showers continued into May, we even had storms and flood warnings... Cut to this week and all of a sudden here we are sweltering away, wondering if there's a way we can shoehorn another fan into the office and regretting the fact that we don't have a freezer for half-hourly ice-cream breaks!
While the warmer weather can be difficult for us, at least as humans we are able to take steps to regulate our temperature and keep ourselves safe in the heat. Our furry companions however find it much harder to keep themselves cool, and of course since they cannot communicate with us to let us know they are struggling, it is our responsibility as pet owners to look out for them and make sure they are coping with the heat.
We've therefore put together a helpful guide to aid you in keeping your dog happy and healthy in the summer sun.
1. Make plenty of clean water available
It might go without saying, but sometimes these things must be said! Water is incredibly important at all times, but particularly when it is hot and stuffy. Your dog will likely be taking more drinks than usual, so do make sure bowls are topped up regularly and that there are bowls of water outside in a shaded area if your dog is spending time in the garden.
2. Walk at cooler times of day
Early mornings and later in the evening are the best times to walk your dog in the height of summer, as exercise is much more taxing in hot weather, not to mention the temperature of the pavement your dog will be walking on. Avoid walking between 9am and 9pm on very hot days, and always check the temperature of the floor with your hand before taking your dog on a walk. If in doubt, don't take your dog out. The best places to walk are shaded, grassy areas, and if your dog likes to swim, a clean body of water makes a great cooling-off opportunity!
3. Freeze treats for a fun way to cool off
A great way to help your dog keep cool and enrich them at the same time is to freeze treats or toys inside ice cubes - they will have a great time licking the ice away to get to what's inside, and in doing so will take on some nice cold water. Bonus points for keeping them in a shady spot while the ice melts!
4. Create cool zones at home
Encourage your dog to spend time in areas of the house that are cooler, particularly if you notice they are beginning to overheat. Kitchen or even bathroom tiles can be lovely and cool for lying on, and not just for the dogs! Utilise as many fans as you can, and make sure there is at least one at a low level so your pup can benefit from the cooling air.
5. Cooling coats & neckerchiefs
If your dog is drinking plenty of water but is still too warm, a cooling coat can be an excellent way to bring their temperature down. An alternative to this is a cotton or linen neckerchief soaked in cold water, you can even pop one in the fridge for half an hour to cool it further before placing round your dog's neck. Just make sure that you leave plenty of room for them to breathe comfortably.
6. Make sure you don't do any of the following on a hot day:
- Leave your dog in the car, even with the windows open, even for a few minutes. It's just not safe.
- Leave your dog tied up outside a shop.
- Lay wet towels over your dog to cool them down - instead wet a towel and place it on the floor for them to lie upon. A towel on top of a dog will soon heat up and then cause them to overheat.
- Put ice in your dog's water bowl. While cold water is great, iced water should be avoided as the extreme temperature can be a shock to the stomach and cause bloating.
- Play fetch or other tiring games that will raise your dog's heart rate. They may be tempted to run around but the best thing for them is to stay relaxed.
- Neglect to have them groomed during the summer months - just imagine wandering around in a fur coat when you could be in a tshirt and shorts!
Above all, it is most important to exercise common sense and monitor your dog throughout the day. If your dog is showing signs of dehydration or heat stroke make sure to contact your local vet for advice and keep them hydrated in the meantime.