10 tips for keeping your pet cool in summer
1. Plenty of fresh drinking water
It seems obvious, but it’s easy to overlook when your pet’s water bowl is empty. Ensure they always have access to fresh, clean water by placing bowls around your home and garden. Have a bowl in every room where your pet is likely to go to encourage them to drink more frequently.
2. Create a cool space
Dogs will naturally seek out cooler spaces, such as a tiled floor. You can help by creating a cooler room, closing shutters or curtains and setting up a fan. Having wet towels or cooling mats to lie down on to help stay cool. Cooling collars or vests are similar to cooling mats; they are filled with gel to move heat from your dog’s body to the environment.
3. Plan your walks
When the days get really hot, plan your walks early or late, and stay out the sun at midday. Plan your route to have as much shade as possible, including where you park the car. And always make sure you have drinking water during and after your walks.
4. Know if your dog is more prone to overheating
All dogs suffer in the heat, but certain breeds are more likely to feel uncomfortable and will need more help to keep cool and hydrated. These include
- Active dogs, especially if they continue to run around and get too hot
- Dogs with thicker coats, such as Pyrenean Mountain dogs, malamutes, collies, or German Shepherds
- Flat-faced dogs, such as boxers or French bulldog, which can struggle to lose heat effectively through panting
- Large dog breeds, such as St Bernards or Newfoundland
- Overweight dogs, who have more fat that increases their insulation and puts them at greater risk of heatstroke
- Older dogs, who are usually more vulnerable in hot weather
5. Never, never leave dogs in the car
Again, this is obvious, but how often have we seen a dog left in a stifling car? Dogs can suffer brain damage or even die from heatstroke in just 15 minutes! Never leave your dog alone in the car, even for a short time.
When travelling with your dog in the car, use the air conditioning and keep an eye on your dog for signs of discomfort such as panting or salivating.
6. Be creative with play
Dogs will still need exercise and playtime. Some ideas are
• Try providing water for them to lie in and splash about; it need only be deep enough for them to lie down in. Some dogs enjoy playing in a sprinkler, though it is not for every dog!
• Scatter kibble on the ground to have them sniff out their food
• Hide treats under cups or in boxes for them to find
• Stuff a Kong with treats like peanut butter or large pieces of melon
• Roll up treats in an old towel and have the dog find out how to find them
• Use a food dispensing toy
7. Frozen treats
These are a great way to keep a dog interested and cool him down at the same time. You can fill a Kong with food such as yoghurt or bananas, and pop in the freezer. Or freeze slices of juicy fruit such as watermelons or oranges.
8. Protect paws from hot surfaces
Cats’ and dogs’ paws are sensitive to the heat and can get injured. Avoid letting them walk on surfaces like tarmac roads, concrete or hot sand.
9. Regular grooming
Regular brushing and clipping removes excess hair and helps your pet to stay cool.
10. Look for signs of heat stroke
Finally, keep an eye out for signs that your dog may be overheating – panting, drooling or unsteady on their feet. Move them to a cool, shady area, let them drink small amounts of water and pour room-temperature water over their body, especially the belly. Never use ice or freezing water as this could cause shock. Call your vet if they are not responding.