Keeping a dog cool when the temperature soars is very important in order to prevent some unpleasant and even dangerous conditions. On hot days, dogs may not be able to pant fast enough to cool themselves down. Dogs don’t have sweat glands, except in small areas such as on the pads of their paws. They cool down mainly by panting, which releases evaporated water from their lungs and mouth, and by radiating heat from dilated blood vessels in their ears. If dogs overheat on a hot summer day they are at risk for developing dehydration, heat exhaustion, or even heat stroke, which can be deadly.
Also, double coated dogs should NOT be shaved. It does not help them keep cool it actually compromises their body’s natural ability to regulate their own temperature…
When the weather forecast is predicting a string of very hot days, take them for a walk early in the morning. You can walk on trails that are still in the shade of trees as much as possible. On hot days don’t go for the more vigorous types of walks such as hill climbing.
Take a small water bowl and flask of water with you.
Getting up early to walk or exercise a dog is not always practical. Techniques such as the ones listed below therefore become very important for keeping a dog cool.
There are some important points to remember about walks on hot days that some people may not think about. When a dog walks on very hot tarmac, asphalt, cement, or even sand, their paw pads may get burned. Another important thing to consider is that the body of a dog with short legs is closer to the ground than the body of one with long legs. This means that there is less chance for the heat radiating from the ground to dissipate before it strikes the body of a short-legged dog.
Since the soles of our shoes often insulate us from the heat of a walking surface, it’s a good idea to touch a surface with a hand before taking a dog on to it. A common recommendation is to place a hand on hot asphalt or another surface for ten seconds. If the hand can’t be left there due to discomfort, the asphalt is too hot for the dog. A natural material such as grass or earth may be a better choice for a summer walk than a sidewalk or road.
Dampen your furry friends down with a cold and wet towel or a spray bottle. Distribute water bowls around the house to encourage them to drink and in case one is emptied without you noticing.
Another technique you could use to keep them cool is to take them to a nearby lake/river or even the beach, so they can immerse themselves in water and get thoroughly wet. It’s advisable to wash the salt off a dog’s skin after he or she has been swimming in the ocean. The salt may irritate the skin. In addition, dogs shouldn’t drink sea water.
Some people enjoy swimming in a backyard pool with their dog or letting the dog swim in the pool on their own. This is certainly a great way for a pet to cool down, but chlorine in the water may be irritating for some animals.
Safety tips around pools include the following.
The dog should never be left outside for long periods and ignored. If a pet must be left alone indoors, thought must be given to how he or she will keep cool while the owner is away.
Never leave them alone in the car on a hot day, even with the windows open. The temperature inside a car can increase rapidly on a hot summer day, making the air much hotter than the surrounding environment. The interior of a car can be a dangerous place for both pets and children.
You can give them ice cubes to eat when it’s very hot. It’s an effective way to cool them down. I also put ice cubes in water bowls to cool the water down. Some people like to surround a treat with water and then freeze the combination in order to encourage the dog to eat ice on a hot day. Others create dog popsicles from ingredients such as fruit, vegetables, peanut butter, yogurt and beef, or chicken stock or bouillon.
It’s a good idea to consider the sugar and salt level in frozen treats. It’s also important to be careful if a frozen treat contains a food that a dog has never eaten before. Ask a vet if you have questions about an ingredient in a recipe. In addition, small quantities of a new food should be introduced at first to see how a pet responds.
There are a couple of concerns about giving a dog ice or frozen treats. It’s possible that crunching on hard ice could damage a dog’s teeth. The chunks of ice shouldn’t be too large for the dog to swallow. The pet should be watched when chewing the ice in case a chunk gets stuck and causes choking before it melts.
Opening a window and using a fan are most effective for cooling a room without air conditioning. Wet towels for the dog to lie on are also useful, if he or she will do this. A cooling pad for a dog bed would also help. The pet must be able to reach a water bowl during the night.
If you take steps to keep your dog cool on hot days he or she should never develop heat-related illnesses, but it’s good to know the signs, just in case. Old or overweight dogs and those with breathing problems are most susceptible to heat problems, but any dog can experience them.
Signs of heat exhaustion include:
If a dog with heat exhaustion isn’t cooled down and then rehydrated, the condition can progress to heat stroke, a very serious condition.
Summer can be a wonderful time for you and your dog, as long as you take steps to keep your pet cool both indoors and outdoors. You can still go for walks with your dog and he or she can still chase balls or frisbees, but you will probably need to plan exercise sessions carefully in summer. This effort is very worthwhile in order to keep your dog healthy and happy and to give both of you exercise and fun.