While plenty of sunshine is sublime, it can be dangerous too. Sean Whiting, Director of Houghton Country, offers his advice for keeping your dog cool in the sun.

Is there anything better than a leisurely trip out with your dog on a balmy summer day? This summer so far has already been a scorcher, and the Met Office’s long-range forecast has predicted a series of heatwaves to come.

Dog owners should take extra precautions to ensure the safety of their loved one as they can be susceptible to overheating – remember, dogs don’t regulate their body temperature in the same way humans do. They only have sweat glands in their paws and noses, and panting can only do so much to cool them down.

Top tips to a caring for a dog in the heat

While summer is a great time to get out and about with your dog, below are some of the best ways to keep your dog cool and safe in the sun.

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Watch for these signs of overheating

There are a few crucial warning signs to look out for that could indicate your dog is in danger of overheating.

If you notice any of these symptoms, get them out of the sun immediately, rinse or soak them in cool (not cold) water, and let them have as much to drink as they want. Then, give your vet a call to discuss the symptoms in case your dog needs bringing in immediately.

Symptoms of overheating include:

  • Drooling sticky saliva
  • Excessive panting
  • Floppy skin 
  • Fatigue and dizziness
  • High temperature
  • General signs of discomfort

Dogs can also get painful sunburn just like humans can. Dalmatians, greyhounds, bulldogs, and other white short-haired dogs are the most susceptible to sunburn, but every dog can be affected. Even long-haired dogs can get burnt on their noses and ears. So, look out for signs of redness and keep them out of strong midday sun.

Practical pampering

When the temperature starts to rise, it’s a good idea to take your dog to the groomers to get their fur trimmed, particularly if they are a long-haired breed. Most dogs will have shed naturally during spring, but a good groom can help them out even more when summer comes.

Once they’re groomed, make sure to brush them regularly to get rid of excess hair and knots, both of which can trap heat.

Giving them a brush while you’re out can be quite refreshing for them too, so try to pack a portable dog brush as a treat. If they seem uncomfortable when you’re on the go, give them a quick clean with a pet wipe to freshen them up. Here are some top tips for grooming your pooch at home

Drinking pit stops

Be extra vigilant in keeping their water bowls topped up with cold, fresh water. In hot weather, you might want to have multiple bowls dotted around your home so they’re never too far away from a supply. On trips, don’t leave the house without a collapsible dog bowl and plenty of bottled water.

Make use of frozen treats

Just like we enjoy an iced drink to cool down, dogs love ice. So, pop a few cubes into their bowl or try freezing a few of their treats for a refreshing snack. If you don’t have any treats to hand, frozen peas will go down well with your pooch.

Seek the shade… not the Sun

Make sure there’s plenty of opportunities for your dog to get into the shade to protect them from sun damage as well as overheating. Use the shadows from trees, buildings, and awnings to your advantage if you’re out and about. If you are relaxing in your garden, you could even lay down towels out of the sun that have been soaked in cold water. That way, you can keep your dog cool wherever they choose to retire.

Take a dip

There are many places you can take your dog for a walk that can also provide them with the opportunity for a refreshing swim. River and lakeside trails will be pleasant for you both, especially if they’re bordered by woodland so that you can escape the sun under the trees for a bit while they splash about. 

At home, if you don’t have a pond, your dog will appreciate a paddling pool when the weather gets too hot. If there isn’t a pool available, you can play around with your hose or your sprinklers to cool them off.

Try dog safe sun cream

For further protection from UV rays, apply a sun barrier to your dog. Do not use standard sun blocks and creams, as these usually contain zinc which is toxic for dogs when ingested. Instead, look for sun barriers made specially for dogs. You can choose from creams, sprays, and wipes that enable you to apply protection quickly, which is handy if your pooch is uncooperative.

Time your walkies

Your dog still needs plenty of exercise, even if you’ve been out on a trip the day before. But the weather outside can often make every-day walks more uncomfortable than normal.

Walking at midday can be dangerous, as you could both get heat exhaustion and the pavement could be too hot for your pooch’s paws. So, it’s best to go for walks in the early morning and late evening when the temperature is cooler.

Follow the tips in this guide and you should help keep your dog cool this Summer. If you have any concerns at all about your dog, contact your vet immediately to be on the safe side, as heatstroke can be very serious.

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