10 tips to keep your dog safe in the heat
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Summer is here, temperatures are on the rise and most of us will rejoyce at the warm sunny days.
However higher temperatures can become very dangerous for our beloved furry friends, and it's essential to keep their needs in mind throughout the hottest months.
Whether you go on about your daily life or go out on a trip, here are a few top tips to make their summer safe and fun!
1. Avoid walks in the hottest hours
Walkies are great fun but when the melting midday sun is out, the heat can become overwhelming for dogs – especially when walking on concrete surfaces!
Whenever possible, make sure you make good use of early or late hours to stay out and get in the daily exercise. If you can’t avoid going out in the heat, make sure that the route includes plenty of spots in the shade and that avoids pavements and streets as much as possible – always check the temperature of concrete and other surfaces by keeping your hand on it for five seconds. If it's too hot for you, it will be too hot for your dog too!
2. Pool party in the garden
If you have the space, keeping a paddling pool in your garden or on your balcony available for your pet to have a refreshing splash is a fantastic and fun solution.
Wet towels can also work well as a fresh bed – just make sure they are cool and not freezing! Some brands also sell specific cooling beds for dogs – some keeping floofs elevated from the ground.
3. A play-time twist
Instead of having your furry friend getting too physically active in the heat, why not try swapping to lower-intensity activities? The possibilities are endless – you could hide treats around the house, freeze food in a Kong or another treat dispenser to keep them entertained with fresh snacks, or try doing some coordination courses using chairs, ladders or other house objects as hurdles. This is a great way to get their brain engaged!
4. Water at paw at all times
This should be a given all-year-round but it's very important to pay extra attention to hydration when heat strikes. Make sure there is always some fresh water at hand and, if you go on a trip, bring with you a collapsible bowl – they are a great ally of families on walks and journeys, and they can fit anywhere. It may be that your dog will not want to drink even in hot weather and this might be for a variety of reasons, from anxiety to negative associations, especially with shelter dogs. Try a new bowl placed in a different place, giving some ice as snacks, or adding water to their dry food, but always check with your vet if you are concerned about this behaviour.
5. Car journeys
Summer means holidays and we might find the time for car journeys for exciting trips. However, long car trips with high temperatures can be challenging – make sure you keep your dog fresh, hydrated and safe at all times. Never leave a dog in a car, particularly with summer temperatures – some dogs will get anxious easily and this mix of elements can be fatal to them.
6. Keep your home or escape route close!
Some days are more predictable than others – but in Scotland weather can be quick to change, and multiple times a day! When going out on walks, make sure you are not caught by surprise by hot temperatures too far from home or your car; planning your routes so that you are always at a reasonable distance from an escape or a safe, fresh spot can be an easy trick to avoid summer over-heat
8. Learn how to recognise and deal with heat stroke
Preventing is always the best solution, but when it hits, it is vital to learn how to spot the first signs of heat stroke and some first-aid basics to keep your dog safe. Excessive panting, weakness and foaming from the mouth are just some of the signs that come with heat stroke – below is a useful graphic posted by PDSA, who also have great information on their website. If you see any of those signs, make sure you get in touch with a vet as soon as possible.
9. Groomed and healthy
Much like with humans, risk of disease and complications are reduced if one leads a healthy and active lifestyle, and the same applies to our dogs. Make sure they are the right weight and are given the right amount of exercise and a balanced diet. Some breeds will need more care than others, and this is also true when it comes to grooming to keep your pet fresh: if they are shedding, brush them often or even a trim for certain breeds can make it fresher for them. Make sure you check with your vet what the best options are for your pooch.
10. Sun screen protection
This can be very important to protect a dog's skin from the negative effects of the sun and diminish risk of skin cancer. If your pet has a light-coloured coat or has skin exposed, make sure you protect him with some dog-safe sun screen!