Like people, overheated dogs can become irritable when it’s hot and humid. They can’t sweat like we do to cool down, and they can’t strip off their coats. Summer can be not just uncomfortable, but dangerous to our furry friends.
Here, in no particular order, are some tips to keep your dog safe and well during the most uncomfortable part of the year:
• Make sure dogs have a retreat away from children, where it is cool and quiet for them to relax. A tiled area is perfect. A hot and bothered dog is more likely to unintentionally snap.
• Don’t take your dog on unnecessary car trips
• NEVER leave your pet in the car – not even in the shade with an open window
• Keep your dog leashed to avoid getting lost if away from a well-fenced yard
• ALWAYS have a bowl of fresh water easily accessible, and give your dog plenty of water during walks
• Water your dog with cool water from the hose or a bucket on a hot day, especially if it shows signs of heat stroke
• Keep your dog groomed and trimmed – he doesn’t need that winter coat
• Only walk or exercise your dog early in the morning or in the evening, when it is cooler; never allow him to overexert himself. Give the walk a miss on the hottest days.
• Dogs don’t sweat to cool down like we do; they pant. Some breeds can’t pant effectively, such as snub nosed breeds and overweight dogs – hence they easily overheat. Puppies and elderly dogs are also at higher risk.
• Always make sure there are well-shaded areas for your dog outside – remember that as the sun moves, so does the shade and a shady spot at 10am might well be a bakehouse at 2pm.
• Fill a small kids’ pool with cool fresh water for your dog to get into.
• Offer iced water or even ice treats.
• DON’T leave a dog outside and unsupervised on a very hot day – let him come into a cool area of the house. He will appreciate a fan or air conditioning every bit as much as you do – even though it won’t cool him as effectively as it does humans.
• Treat your dog for parasites (fleas, ticks) regularly over the summer months. Check his coat regularly.
• Be aware of hot spots and get these treated by your vet if any occur.
• Keep Fido inside on New Year’s Eve and during thunderstorms. Fireworks and summer electrical storms can be terrifying for animals.
(These tips should be applied to any pet – cats, rabbits, ferrets, etc – they all suffer much more than we do with heat and humidity).
Pay close attention to your pet’s extra needs over summer – remember, he is wearing a fur coat that he can’t take off!