In the midst of daylight savings and the summer season, we are all eager to venture outside to enjoy the sun and the great outdoors with our dogs.
While summer outdoors can be loads of fun, be sure to take steps to prevent your dog from overheating and suffering from heat exhaustion. Whether you’re going for a walk, a ride in the car, or just playing out in the yard, the heat can be harmful and your dog could become too hot leading to heatstroke, dehydration, or even more serious conditions such as a stroke or cardiac arrest.
To help keep your furry friend cool and safe this Summer, we’ve put together a list of immediate ways to help your dog cool down and tips to prevent your dog from overheating.
Why Is My Dog Too Hot?
Any hot environment can cause discomfort, but the most common cause for dogs to overheat are avoidable actions by the pet owner, such as leaving a dog in a car or forgetting to provide water and shade to pets that are outdoors.
Some dogs are more prone to developing heat exhaustion, especially pets who are older, overweight, or dog breeds with a compromised airway such as brachycephalic breeds (Pugs, Bulldogs, and other flat-faced breeds). Dogs with compromised airways have much more difficulty expelling heat through panting and although dogs do sweat it is only a minimal amount and not enough to effectively cool themselves.
Regardless of what the temperature or humidity is, always be mindful and monitor your dog carefully for signs of heatstroke. The sooner you notice these signs, the sooner you should stop any form of exercise, cool down your dog, and if needed seek attention from your vet.
Whether it’s the peak of summer or not, always be mindful of your dog and take the prevention
Signs a Dog Is Overheating
Learn the signs of discomfort and how to identify whether your dog is overheating.
Symptoms of overheating and heatstroke can include; excessive panting and discomfort, drooling, fatigue or loss of energy, restlessness, reddened gums, increased body temperature or heartbeat, vomiting, diarrhea, disorientation, or loss of consciousness, uncoordinated movement, and collapse.
How to Cool Down a Dog
If you see any signs of overheating, help cool your dog down by taking these steps, and if they continue to get worse, contact your nearest vet.
- Move your dog to the shade and cool environment. Stop any form of exercise, move them away from direct sunlight to a cool place and calm spot with some airflow. You can shut some curtains, open some windows or doors if you’re inside. If it is a hot still day, put on the air conditioning.
- Encourage your dog to drink some water. Dehydration is one of the main reasons dogs overheat. Make sure they have access to fresh cool water. Add Vetafarm Spark Liquid to their water to assist in recovery if you have some.
- Sit your dog on a cooling mat, or create a makeshift cooling mat. If you don’t already have a cooling mat, you can easily DIY one by using two bathroom mats or a thick towel folded. Create cold packs by putting frozen peas into ziplock bags and placing them under the first bath mat. Make sure the towel is thick enough, so it provides them a cooling sensation but not too frosty. Any ice or frozen product will do, however, peas are a lot more comfortable because they are small and not too lumpy.
- Pat them with a damp towel. Damp a towel or clothes and gently wipe them down when they are overheating can help bring some relief. Reach your dog’s hottest spots including their tummy, armpits, and pads of their paws
Tips to Prevent Your Dog From Overheating and Keep Safe This Summer
Prevention from overheating is the best treatment, so here are some tips for keeping your dog cool and minimising the risks of your dog getting too hot.
1. Limit sun exposure and make sure there is a shaded area your dog can retreat to
When venturing outdoors try going in the early mornings or late evenings when it is not so hot. The air will be easier for your pet to breathe and the ground will be cooler on their paws.
If you are out in the middle of the day remember to take water with you and a dog-friendly bottle or portable bowl. When you’re at the beach or park try and find a nice shady area to play or sit in or better still let your dog have a dip in the cool seawater.
When they are at home, make sure your dog has a cool shaded area they can retreat to if they’re feeling too hot. Set them up a nook under some trees in the garden or a cool room in the house.
2. Don’t leave your dog in a parked car
Leaving your dog in a parked car is a serious hazard. If you know that you’re going to be away from your dog, even for a couple of minutes, while you are out, it is much better to leave them at home where they are comfortable, have access to a shaded area and water, than to leave them alone in a car. Even if parked in the shade, the temperature inside a car on a summer’s day can easily cause heat exhaustion and your dog to overheat.
3. Keep them hydrated
In addition to overheating dogs can become dehydrated very quickly so whether at home or out and about always ensure there is plenty of fresh, drinking water available.
The Zeus automatic freshwater fountain is a great option when you’re at home as it continuously gives your pet a supply of fresh and clean drinking water. Re-circulating water flow eliminates stale, stagnant water to provide fresh-tasting, cool filtered water to keep your pet hydrated.
Vetafarm Spark Liquid is also great to have on hand. It provides a sustained release of energy supplements and electrolytes. It's added to your pet’s drinking water to rehydrate, replenish and assist in recovery during times of extreme temperatures, stress, illness, or injury.
4. Make time for water play
Keeping your pet’s body temperature regulated will go a long way in ensuring they don’t overheat. If your dog loves water play, give them a splash with the garden hose or sprinkler, go to the local beach for a dip in the water or play with a cooling dog toy.
The hydro range of ChuckIt dog toys are not only fun but can be soaked in cold water for your dog to chew on helping them stay cool and hydrated.
5. Give your dog a frozen treat
Frozen dog treats are a fun way to help keep your dog cool in the warmer months! Simply give your dog some ice cubes to crunch on or stuff the Westpaw Toppl Dog Toy or Pet.co.nz Pet Snacky Lick Pad with peanut butter or a dog-friendly mix and freeze for some stimulating play on a hot day.
6. Get a cooling mat for your dog
A cooling mat is great for the warmer weather and to help cool down your dog. The Buddy & Belle cooling mat has a non-toxic inner gel that will typically be 5-10 degrees cooler than room temperature without refrigeration and will maintain its cooling properties for approximately 1 hour depending on the environment. You can have it directly on the floor, or in your pup’s carrier or bed.
Alternatively, a cooling vest, cooling collar or wetting bandana and tying it around your pet's neck can also be effective at helping to keep your pet's temperature at a comfortable level especially when outdoors walking or playing.
7. Keep your dog groomed appropriately
Keep on top of your grooming routine, but before you take your dog to the groomers or grab those clippers, check with your vet to see if more fur or less is better for your dog during the hot summer months. In some breeds, the layers of their coat can actually be effective in protecting them from overheating and helping them stay cool.
Understanding the causes and prevention is of course the best remedy for heat exhaustion. Have fun in the sun but be smart and keep an eye on your dog for signs of heatstroke this summer.