Updated: Aug 19, 2021
As we approach warmer weather we need to ensure our pets are kept cool and comfortable. Dogs release heat not by sweating but by panting and releasing heat through the pads on the bottom of their paws. Dogs are not able to cope with heat in the same way people can. Even if doesn’t feel that hot to you, it may be too hot for your dog.
Some tips to make summer bearable?
Starting with basic common sense. Don't leave your dog in the car! It takes only a few minutes for temperatures to soar.
Daily walks. If it's too hot for you to walk barefoot on the footpath/road don't make your dog walk on it. Dog paws can easily become burnt and blistered from even the shortest walks on hot surfaces. A dog’s excitement can overrule pain on a walk, meaning the dog may be experiencing pain or discomfort, you may not be able tell until it’s too late. Walk your dog early morning or late evening. Unsure if the ground is cool enough for your dog to walk on? Place the back of your hand on the pavement if you can hold it there for 10 seconds it is ok for your dog to walk on.
Bring your dog into the air-conditioned house when possible. This is particularly important for brachycephalic breeds (Pugs, Bulldogs, Boxers etc) as they will have additional trouble breathing in the heat.
Ensure there is always fresh water available in multiple bowls. Sometimes dogs accidentally knock over their bowl so be prepared. Is the dog's kennel out of direct sunlight and does your dog have enough shaded areas to provide shelter? Fill up a plastic kiddy pools/clam shell so your dog can cool off if he needs, the pool can also provide an additional water source to keep him hydrated (and it's harder to knock over than a bowl).
There are cooling mats available online which can be beneficial, though these are not suitable for dogs who are avid chewers.
Cool treats can help ease a hot day. Freeze dog biscuits or pieces of meat in a container of water and place it out in the shade as an icy treat. Frozen (uncooked) chicken wings and necks can make refreshing treat. If you want to hose off your dog focus the water on your dog’s stomach, the water will cool the blood vessels faster.
Signs of heat stress in your dog:
Heavy rapid panting
If you believe your dog is heat stressed you must act immediately, every second counts! Cool the dog down by running cool (not freezing) water over the dog focusing on the dog’s stomach, offer him water to drink and immediately transport your dog to the nearest vet clinic for treatment. Your dog may require intravenous fluids to help him rehydrate and medical monitoring of his recovery.
Please don’t use a wait and see approach when it comes to heat stress, dogs can become very ill, very quickly, going into shock, if in doubt always take your dog to the vet.