Keeping Cool

As we’ve officially reached summer 2021, I’m back on my mission to keep Jake and Truly cool and comfortable in the heat.

Water

Having access to fresh water 24/7 is vital any time of the year, but especially in the heat. If you think your dog isn’t drinking enough, there are sneaky ways to add water to their diets as I do with Truly. Water with her food, or frozen dog treat lollies are very easy to make… minus the stick obviously.

For the car (if we absolutely have to travel) Jake and Truly’s non-spill water bowls velcro to the inside of their crates, helping to prevent them sliding around in transit. The non-spill top also helps contain the mess from dribbly soft mouthed drinkers (Jake). It’s common sense I hope, to not leave your dogs in the car. It doesn’t need to be sunny for them to overheat.

For trips away from home I favour large stainless-steel bottles, they keep water cooler for longer. I keep a water bowl in the car, and use canvas water bowls that fold into my bag for ease on the move. There’s a plethora of water bottles designed for dogs, with built in dispensing bowls, as well as rollerball tops your dog can lick from.

Top tips from me are to check the bottle for leaks before you put in your bag (!) and take sufficient quantity for you and your dogs.

Activity

When it’s hot I walk Jake and Truly early morning and late evening. As dogs cool by panting, a calm shorter walk under the shade of trees is usually in order. Tarmac stores heat from the sun, and animal welfare charities often remind us to test the ground for heat with the back of our hands before walking on pavements.

In the summer I tend to walk Jake in his cool coat, as older dogs especially feel the heat. I was introduced to cool coats when we did flyball. No fuss to prepare, simply drop the coat under the tap, gently squeeze the surplus water out, and put onto the dog. The water draws the heat and keeps them cool.

Jake and Truly have Easidri coats. From personal experience… I recommend following the washing and storage instructions too. Otherwise, next summer you’ll find you have either a coat resembling piece of cardboard, or a smelly mouldy one you’ll need to throw away.

At home

I keep the blackout blinds down in direct sunshine, preventing the house from getting hot in the first place. With the windows slightly open to allow the air to circulate. I keep a cool mat on the sitting room floor in the summer, Jake will plonk himself on it when he’s hot, so I know it works for him. It’s also well padded so comfortable for him to lay on.

At flyball competitions children’s plastic sand pits were filled with water and dotted around the field, this allowed dogs to stand or lay down in after competing. An idea for your garden if your dog loves water.

If your dog likes to lay in the garden, try to keep them out of the sun. Especially important if they have dark coats as they tend to absorb the heat. If I let him, Jake will happily lay in the full glare of the sun panting heavily, but Truly sensibly lays in the shade! I also think her coat helps her to manage her temperature.

How dogs cool

As you know dogs pant when they’re hot, stressed or excited (if your dog pants excessively always explore this with your Vet). Panting allows moisture to evaporate through the tongue, it’s the primary method your dog cools itself. Dogs also lose heat through vasodilation, where the blood flows closer to the skin on their face and ears, allowing them to cool. Dogs do have sweat glands in their paws, which is why many dogs like to stand (or swim) in water to cool down. It’s also why in first aid situations you’re encourages to apply wet cloths to their pads.

First aid

If your dog gets too hot and is unable to regulate their temperature, they can suffer heatstroke. Heatstroke can present as mild heat exhaustion or, in severe cases, lose consciousness and ultimately suffer organ failure.

If you think your dog has heatstroke, put them somewhere cool, give them water, and contact your Vet. However tempting it is to apply ice cold water, don’t, as it can cause shock. Tepid tap water is fine.

PDSA have some helpful signs of heatstroke to look out for, and some first aid advice.

Until next time

Jen

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