How to Keep Your Dogs Safe and Cool in Summer

Keeping your dog cool and comfortable during hot weather is an important issue for dog-owners.  Heat stress is common in dogs as they don’t sweat and because we have sent different dog breeds all over the world.  This means that a densely coated dog developed for the snowy peaks of Tibet needs special care in a hot climate.  And short-muzzled breeds like Staffordshire bull terriers and boxers always suffer breathing problems in the hot weather.

So why not take a moment to run through the best tips for keeping your pet cool and healthy when the summer temperature rises high. And learn ‘first-aid’ for doggy heat stroke, too!

Prevent heat stroke

Heat stroke is a real medical emergency for your dog, but you can easily prevent it with these simple tips:

  • Monitor your dog’s behaviour and if they are panting a lot, move them into a shaded space to cool down
  • Take your dog for a short hair-clip if their natural coal is thick
  • Give food in the cooler morning and evening times
  • Give smaller food helpings as digestion generates body heat
  • Offer an ice pack or wet towel for your pet to lie on
  • Add ice cubes to the water-dish
  • Get your dog a kid’s wading pool with cool, shallow water always available
  • Hang-up a tarp or old sheet to create a cool screened-off area in your garden where your pet can lie in the shade and drink water

What causes heat stress in dogs

We all know that no dog should be left unattended in a car, not even for 5 minutes.  But vets treat many cases of heat-stress each year in dogs that were spending time with their owners when they collapsed!

Car trips

  • Don’t take your dog on car trips at hot times of the day
  • Always take water with you to keep your dog from becoming de-hydrated

If you take your dog with you on a car trip, always use the air-conditioning and provide plenty of drinking water.  This can be in a handy, non-spill water bowl or you can stop frequently to offer your dog some fresh air and a long drink of water. Taking your pet for a short walk in a shaded area will really help them cool down and stay healthy.

Hot-weather exercise

  • Avoid exercising your dog between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
  • Walk your dog in the cooler parts of the day

When we are too hot, we don’t want to do strenuous exercise, because we know it will make us hotter and thirstier.  But some dogs can’t refuse a chance for physical play-time and if this is done under a hot sun, the exercise will generate added heat and your dog’s core-temperature will shoot up fast.

Symptoms of heat stroke in dogs

When a dog’s core-temperature gets too high, he will often just flop down panting to the ground. This may happen suddenly in the middle of a walk. Dogs suffering heat stroke will refuse to respond to their owner’s commands and may need to be carried home.  Your dog’s life could be in danger if you don’t recognize the symptoms of heat-stroke and take your dog for emergency treatment right away.

Dogs most at risk of heat-stress

  • Dogs with short muzzles and brachycephalic breathing problems
  • Obese dogs
  • Dogs with narrowed throat passages from a paralyzed larynx
  • Dark-colored coats that absorb the sun’s heat

How to treat a dog with heat stroke

You need to reduce the dog’s core-temperature, but must avoid the other extreme of over-cooling.

  1. Pour cool water over your dog from a hose or applied with a sponge to wet a thick coat thoroughly.
  2. You can also use cold, wet towels for this and applying packets of frozen veg to the head and body will help get the core-temperature down.
  3. Offer plenty of cool water for re-hydration
  4. As soon as your dog’s panting slows right down and they try to walk around, stop the cooling process.
  5. Go to your vet for emergency treatment immediately.

Cool water bathing

If you’re at home, you can place your pet in a bath of cool water.  But if your dog collapses away from home, look for a shallow river or lake to use.  Be careful to use water that’s no more than about 12 inches deep.  You should stand next to your pet, with a rock-steady stance to prevent their head dipping under the water.

Take your dog to the vet

This is only ‘first-aid’ treatment, so don’t forget your dog needs professional medical treatment right away.  Heat stroke can seriously damage the dog’s organs, in ways that you won’t notice until a day or two later.


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