As everyone knows, in the last few days the U.K. has seen some extremely hot weather! There are reports of all sorts of records being broken.
This can be problematic for all dogs and their owners but can be especially difficult for large breeds with thick coats.
I am often asked how my dogs deal with hot weather; my answer is always the same. You must manage your dogs. If you look after them and their needs, in all weathers, they will be fine. But here are some tips that I use to keep my dogs cool.
• It is true that Canada and even some parts of Alaska, can get warmer than the UK during their summers; but what can make UK weather tricky is that it is so changeable! The temperature can shoot up in a day or too, and we are all caught out feeling uncomfortably hot. Be aware of this! Your dog may not have had time to adapt to the change in temperature.
• When it is really hot, the best times to take your dog out is early morning and late evening. This may sound pretty obvious to you, but be aware that by mid-morning it can be roasting, so the earlier the walk, the better. I walked my Malamutes yesterday at 6a.m. when I had finished the temperature was already 25 degrees. Therefore by 8 or 9 a.m. it would have been too hot.
I also find that my dogs prefer the early mornings to late evenings, so I work around that. In the heat of the summer, their longest walk is in the early morning, and in the late evening we are more likely to go out so they can do their business, or go to a local stream or just sit outside with them, at the park, or in the shade with a paddling pool.
• If your dog is panting don’t be alarmed, they have to pant to cool down. But you still should still slow it down, watch for the colour of your dog’s tongue! If it becomes a cherry red colour, they are overheating and you need to do something quick to cool them.
• If your dog is sluggish in the heat, they are telling you they don’t feel like it. Don’t push them!
• At this time of year, if we are out with the dogs we bring a bag with water, water bowl and a spray bottle. Keep them watered, keep their ears and feet wet. Also many dogs love to catch the water from the spray bottles with their mouths.
• Do not walk them on ground that is hot. The golden rule for “too hot” is to hold the back of your hand onto the ground. If you cannot hold it there for 5 seconds, it is too hot to walk your dog. Even if you are able to hold your hand on the ground, it is still best to walk them in the shade if you can.
• Do not ever leave you dog in a car by itself!! I don’t care what your reason is! We all know why this is really bad! No excuse!!
• If it is too hot and you leave your dog at home, make sure that all windows and blinds are pulled, it will keep the light out and will help keep your rooms cooler. If you have blinds, close them in the opposite way than you would normally i.e. the top of each blade is facing towards the window, rather than facing inside the room. I find the blinds keep out more light this way.
• Leave your dog with frozen chew toys. There are many ways that you can do this (i.e. making dog ice lolly’s etc.) but I make about 4 Kong’s up for each of my dogs. I put in their dry food, run it under the tap and then freeze them. The dogs go nuts for them!! They stay cool, calm themselves down. Happy days!
• Brush your dogs. I am asked by a lot of people about clipping my dogs. You cannot cut the hair of a dog with a double coat as it will mess with their body’s ability to regulate their body temperature. Brushing the coats out will really help though. You will remove any dead hair, increase the blood flow and air to the skin. This will help them feel more comfortable and also reduce the risk of heat spots – not nice! Brushing will also be a useful interaction with your dog that can help replace the reduced exercise time.
• Put water with their food. If you feed dry food or raw, I always put water in the same bowl as the food. It helps with getting water inside of your dog.
• Do not assume that because your dog is charging around, that he is not hot. They can keep going until it’s too late and they need quick assistance. If your dog trusts you and sees you as the leader, then it will try and please you and follow your lead. So take the lead and slow things down.
What are the signs of overheating?
Some of the signs include:
• Heavy laboured panting, like the dog cannot catch its breath
• Bright cherry red tongue
• Poor coordination
• Pale gums
• Pulling back on a lead
• Excessive thirst
• Being off food
• Vomiting and/or diarrhea
• Excessive drooling/frothing
My dog needs help what should I do?
• Give water
• Wet the paws
• Put a wet towel over the back of the neck, back legs and on their underbelly
• Whilst you are doing this get someone to call the vet, get your dog there ASAP!
I hope this information is useful. Enjoy the weather guys, have a great summer and remember…Be cool!! (Cannot believe I said that! Sorry guys!)