As the weather gets warmer, it brings many advantages: we can spend more time outdoors enjoying the sunshine. Hopefully this will also present more opportunities to spend quality time with our pets. However, warmer weather can also pose risks to us and to our pets. If we are not careful, we may find our pets suffering as the mercury soars.
Here are some top tips for looking after your pet on hot days.
Make a Doggy Paddling Pool
Swimming is a great way to help your dog to cool down in hot weather. You can make a paddling pool for your pet by filling a kiddy pool or an empty sand pit will cool water. Make sure to set up the pol in the shade and encourage your dog to have a fun and cooling splash. If they’re reluctant to get in the first time, fill it with toys for extra encouragement.
If you can, taking your dog for a swim at the beach is also a great way to give them exercise while keeping them cool. There are a few things to remember if taking your dog to the ocean. Be sure to rinse the salt water and sand from your dog’s coat afterwards, otherwise this may dry out or irritate the skin. Also be sure to watch out for tides and currents, and don’t let your dog spend too much time in the sun as they may get heatstroke.
Add Ice Cubes to Your Dog’s Bowl
A constant supply of fresh water is important at all times, but particularly in summer when your dog could easily become dehydrated. In high temperatures, however, it can be hard to prevent the water from becoming too hot. This can be avoided by adding a few ice cubes to your dog’s water bowl. If possible, put out two or more water bowls for your pet, and make sure at least one is inside in the shade (as long as it’s accessible). Of course, you should also constantly check your dog’s water bowls and replenish them as needed.
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Ice cubes are also a great treat for your dog on a hot day. You can even make homemade frozen dog treats that your dog will love at the same time as bringing their body temperature down. There are some easy recipes to make your own, or you can often buy these at pet stores or from your vet. However, make sure your pet maintains a healthy diet even if they are reluctant to eat when it’s very hot. Specialty foods such as VisionaryPet can help to ensure your dog gets the nutrients you need.
Take Walks When it’s Cool
As the weather gets warmer it might be necessary to change up your routine. Taking your dog for a walk or exercise during the hottest part of the day can expose them to high temperatures. You may only be feeling a bit warm on the walk, but remember that your dog is wearing a thick fur coat. Not to mention their bare feet are exposed directly to the pavement or sidewalk, which can become burning hot throughout the day.
Don’t wait for the middle of the afternoon to take your dog out: the hottest part of the day is usually between 1pm and 5pm. Instead, move the walk to early morning before it gets too hot or the evening once things start to cool down. Also be sure to put your hand on the pavement to check the temperature: if it’s too hot for your hand, it will be too hot for your dog’s paws.
Look Out for Signs of Heatstroke
Like humans, pets can be affected by heatstroke in hot weather. This is particularly common in dogs, but it can also affect cats and other pets. Dogs can also be severely and rapidly affected by heatstroke: it can be fatal even in a few minutes. This is because dogs cannot sweat through the skin, and so rely on panting and expelling heat through via the nose and paw pads in order to lower their body temperature.
Look out for signs of heatstroke or overheating, which include:
- Excessive panting
- Dark pink or red tongue that lolls out of the mouth
- Dry, tacky mouth and mucus membranes
- Lameness or stumbling
- Collapse (in extreme cases)
If you notice any of these symptoms, immediately relocate them to a cool place, ideally somewhere with a draught and wet their coat, abdomen, armpits and feet with cool water. Do not apply freezing water or ice as this can be dangerous. You should also call your vet straight away for advice.
Of course, the best thing to do is to avoid heatstroke in the first place by following the advice in the sections above.