The weather is heating up so we’re giving you some tips to help keep your dog safe and happy during the summer months and to prevent heatstroke.
Unlike us, our furry friends cannot regulate their body temperature as easily. As a result, heatstroke is one of the most dangerous risks to them. To prevent your dog from overheating in hot weather, you must take prevention measures. Below are some tips on keeping your dog cool in the summer:
- No matter how warm or cold the weather may be, you should never leave your dog alone in a car. A few minutes alone can be fatal. In just 10 minutes, the temperature inside of your car can rise by 11 degrees on a 22-degree Celsius day. Parking in the shade or opening a window won’t make much of a difference.
- Exercise your dog during the cooler portions of the day. such as early in the morning or later in the evening when the sun isn’t as hot. Keep it moderate and do not overdo it!
- Additionally, be sure to remember the seven-second test. You can test the heat of the tarmac by pressing your hand down for seven seconds- if your hand is too hot, your dog’s feet will be too hot!
- When exercising your dog, ensure you bring plenty of water for them to drink – water dispensers with drinking feeders are a good idea when you’re out and on the go.
- You should also provide your dog with water at home so that they stay hydrated. Placing water bowls throughout the house is a good idea, as well as having one outside in the shade. To keep the temperature cooler for longer, you can even put a few ice cubes in their bowl.
- Your dog will stay hydrated by licking an ice lick made out of frozen treats or by freezing some of their favourite toys. As a result, they will be more likely to lick the ice and stay hydrated!
- Keep your dog in a shady place as much as possible, both inside and outside, so they can escape the heat. When it’s particularly warm, you can put a damp towel beside them so they can stay cool even longer. Keep it wet by replacing it or rewetting it frequently; otherwise, it can dry out quickly.
- Furthermore, it is important to trim back a dog’s fur if it has a lot of hair so that it won’t get too hot. Before doing this, though, be sure to speak with your groomer!
- When travelling with your dog, try to avoid long car rides during the hottest times of the day. Avoid busy roads where you might get stuck. While you are driving, you can provide some shade for your dog with the help of car solar shades! You should also take breaks for water and the restroom!
- Sun safety for dogs also means limiting the amount of sun exposure they get, since they can get sunburned just as easily as humans. White or very thin fur dogs are especially vulnerable to getting burned. Even if a product is marketed as “Pet-Safe” or “Dog-Friendly”, you should always speak with a veterinarian before using it on your dog.
- Getting your dog wet is something they might enjoy, so think about getting them a paddling pool to play in in the garden! You’ll be providing them (and probably yourself too) with some entertainment while they stay cool.
- It is a good idea to keep your dog on a long lead when walking by the water, so they can have a paddle without getting into trouble. If you plan to let your dog swim, you must ensure their vaccination is fully up to date. And never force them into the water. You need to let your dog set their own pace.
Dogs And Heatstroke
Despite taking all of the above steps, it’s vital that you know what to do if your dog exhibits any of the visible signs of heatstroke. Heatstroke occurs when an animal’s body becomes so overheated that its normal cooling mechanisms are no longer effective.
When the body is producing more heat than it can cool itself down, the body is overheating. They usually suffer from it after strenuous exercise. But also when locked in a confined space such as a car. Panting is the only way that dogs can cool themselves down.
These are some of the signs of heatstroke:
- Panting excessively or rapidly
- The tongue and gums are red
- Heavy salivation
- Diarrhoea and vomiting
- The lack of coordination
- The loss of consciousness
Follow these steps immediately if you suspect your dog is suffering from heatstroke:
- In the event that your dog exhibits signs of heatstroke, seek urgent veterinary care. The sooner your dog receives treatment, the better his recovery will be.
- While moving your dog to a shaded or cool area, call your vet on speaker phone immediately. You should speak with your vet about your dog’s symptoms and whether he or she may be suffering from heatstroke.
- When your dog cannot go to the vet right away, the best thing to do is gently cool his skin temperature with a water spray. Followed by small amounts of room temperature (never cold) water to help bring down his temperature further. In addition, you can place them in front of the breeze of a fan if you have one.
- Performing the above step can be done in the car if you have a helping hand. On your way to the vets, you can also try to cool your car by rolling down the windows or switching on the air conditioner. Hopefully, this will help to reduce your dog’s temperature even more.
A dog’s body temperature needs to be lowered rapidly enough to prevent more damage to their vital organs from occurring, but not quickly enough to cause shock. Recovery is usually achieved when the dog’s temperature is returned to normal as soon as possible. Damage to their vital organs is more likely when their body temperature remains high for a long time.
In Case Of An Alone Dog In The Car
In any weather, you should never leave your dog in a car alone. No matter if the car is in the shade or how many windows are open, it does very little to keep the temperature low.
When you find an unattended dog in a car, look around for its owner. Report the situation to the local police station if you cannot locate the owner and you think the dog may have heatstroke. Ensure the dog receives veterinary attention as soon as possible after removing it from the car by the police.
The Dangers of Blue/Green Algae
Despite their name, blue-green algae are not algae at all, but rather a group of bacteria. During the summer, colonies of the bacteria can build up at the edges of lakes and ponds, giving them a foamy appearance.
It is possible to find algae at any time of the year, but they are seen more often in hot weather and in non-flowing water.
Toxins produced by the bacteria prevent the liver in dogs from functioning properly.
There are many types of blue-green algae, and not all of them are harmful. Also, you can’t tell from a glance whether they are toxic or not. Exposure to toxic algae can have long-term effects on dogs and even kill them.
Symptoms of toxicity include:
- Weakness, collapse
- Confusion, unconsciousness
- Breathing problems
Watch for warning signs from local councils or environmental agencies around bodies of water in order to reduce the risk of poisoning to your dog.
Don’t allow your dog to drink from or swim in any water that may have blue-green algal blooms. Keep your dog on a lead around such water.
In order to prevent your dog from indirectly ingesting toxins from the water, it is wise to thoroughly wash them with clean water after your dog has been swimming outside.
Get your dog to the veterinarian as soon as possible if you suspect they show symptoms. Despite the absence of an antidote, prompt intervention can boost survival chances.
Keep safe and cool this summer season.
Thanks to DogsTrust.ie for their contributions to this article.