How to keep your dog safe, happy and heatstroke-free in the sunshine.
We all know that our pets are vulnerable in warm weather, but how many of us recognise the danger signs? Dogs are at high risk of heatstroke, as they only lose heat through panting and can only sweat through their paws. Read on for our easy tips to ensure your canine companions stay cool on scorching days.
When it comes to walkies, head out in the early or late evening, when the weather is cooler. Restrict your dog’s exercise and avoid running or cycling with them when it’s hot. Beware of hot pavements, concrete and tarmac, and if you’re at the beach, remember that sand can heat up fast, too. If it’s too hot to touch with your hand for a few seconds, then it’s too hot for paws. Any of these surfaces can easily burn your dog’s paws, causing blistering. Keep them on a lead so it’s easier to control where they walk.
Always give dogs shade and water – they should have constant access to shaded areas, whether they’re outdoors or inside, and water should be replenished regularly so it stays fresh and cool.
Most of us wouldn’t dream of going outdoors without SPF on our skin, but remember that your dog could use some, too. Apply pet-safe sunscreen on their ear tips and nose, which are prime targets for sunburn. To help keep their temperature down, brush their coat regularly to reduce hair build-up and matting. Even toys can be enlisted to combat hot-weather fatigue: put them in the freezer for a few hours, and invest in a paddling pool to keep dogs chilled and entertained.
Never forget that dogs can die in hot environments. Never leave your pet in vehicles, caravans, conservatories or outbuildings - it takes just 15 minutes for a dog to die of heatstroke. It’s recommended that you never do this at any time of year, but it’s especially important during the summer. When it’s 22°C outside, a car interior can easily reach temperatures as high as 47°C.
Finally, learn the tell tale signs of heatstroke, which can be fatal. Look out for heavy panting, excessive drooling, red or purple gums, lethargy, drowsiness, uncoordinated movements and vomiting. A dog’s normal body temperature is 38.5°C, but at only 43°C, their organs begin to fail. What’s more, an increase of just 2°C is all it takes for a dog to suffer from heatstroke.
If you’re worried your dog already has heatstroke, take the following steps: move them somewhere cool, give them small amounts of tepid water, and soak their natural coat with cool (never cold) running water. Place them in front of a cooling electric fan and contact your vet straight away.
For further information on Heatstroke please go to this RSPCA link