Summer is here and it looks like it’s going to be a hot one! The heat can spell danger for our dogs though and if we’re not careful they can become dehydrated and/or suffer from heatstroke, both of which are potentially serious conditions and can even be fatal. That’s why it’s good to think about how you can make sure your dog’s stay cool and hydrated so they can have the time of their lives this summer too.
Today I am going to blog about some easy things you can do to keep your dog safe and comfortable in hot weather and also go on to explain the signs and symptoms of dehydration in dogs and heatstroke, just so you are aware.
The main reasons your pooch might become dehydrated or overheat and suffer from heatstroke are not drinking enough, over exertion or being confined to a hot, airless space, I think we all know by now that leaving your dog in the car is a big no but think about conservatories and other hot places.
The number one thing to do is to always make sure your dog is taking in enough fluids and always has access to drinking water, take a plentiful supply on walks, a collapsible bowl or water bottle (We love the one pictured below by Kiwi Walker that we got in one of our WufWuf boxes) is a must pack in your summer hiking kit, although I’m sure lots of you, like me carry water throughout the year.
It’s best to walk your furry friend early morning and late evening so you avoid the hottest parts of the day, be especially careful walking your dog on pavements because the heat can easily burn paws. Get in the habit of doing the pavement test, take off your own shoes and stand on the path, if you can’t stand comfortably for 5/10 seconds it’s too hot for your pooch! Of course there’s nothing wrong with skipping a walk altogether and entertaining your dog with enrichment games like apple or carrot bobbing in their paddling pool but I usually try to get my girls out of the house at least once, even if it means getting up at 5am!
Swimming or playing in water is a great way to keep your dog cool, Maya and Lucia love splashing about in water, whether it be a peaceful river, their paddling pool in the garden or even taking a quick shower under the sprinkler in the garden, in fact they love literally any kind of water except the bath!. Swimming is a great way of exercising your dog too as a 5 minute swim is equal to a 5km walk. (Be aware if your dog loves swimming in the sea that they don’t ingest the salt water as even a little can cause beach diarrhoea in some dogs and larger amounts can be fatal)
The British weather can turn in an instant though so remember to take a drying robe and/or towel for your dog to dry him off afterwards. We wouldn’t be without our High Performance Microfibre Towels from Paws & Presto, the dog towel is highly absorbent, light and easy to pop in your rucksack and is a great size too – 120cm x 80cm.
You could also invest in a cooling vest for walks or just to chill in the garden. Paws & Presto do a highly efficient and well designed dog cooling coat at a very reasonable price.
If you follow us on Instagram you will know that Lucia loves her ball and to be honest like lots of dogs I guess has no concept of when she’s done enough fetching! Throughout the year I limit the amount of times she is allowed to play with one anyway because I want to protect her joints, but in hot weather there is an almost total ban. When it’s not quite as warm though I do let her play with her Chucki!t Breath Right Ball which allows more air into the lungs whilst being carried.
Putting a dog bed in a cool, well aired area of your home provides somewhere comfortable for your pooch to relax in the shade. Maya and Lucia tend to lay on the stone floor in my hallway when the temperature rises but it’s a good idea to invest in a cooling mat like the one pictured below from Paws & Presto. In fact you can get a variety of innovative products to keep your dog cool and also to dry them off if they get wet from Paws & Presto – a really great brand to support.
I think one of my spaniels favourite things about summer is doggie ice cream and frozen pawpsicles, you can easily make these yourself in an ice cube tray or just freeze their kong or lickit mat. Maya and Lucia love to lick all sorts of frozen treats but I think their favourites are frozen kefir with blueberries or strawberries (You can use goats yoghurt instead but dairy products from cows are not really that good for dogs) or just a plain ice cube with raspberries or blueberries in but it’s all down to pawsonal choice!
I hope the above tips will help your dog to avoid becoming the worse for wear in the heat but I have listed the main symptoms to look out for in case you think your dog is dehydrated or suffering from heatstroke below so you know what to look out for. If you are worried though consult your vet!
Dehydration in Dogs Signs and Symptoms
Your pooch can become dehydrated when his body is losing more fluids than he is taking in, because a dog’s weight is comprised of 80% water when he is dehydrated he not only loses fluids but also the electrolytes such as potassium, sodium and chloride it contains which are necessary for his body to function.
There are six main indications your dog might be dehydrated so let’s take a look at what they are.
- Your dog will probably lay down more than usual and might be reluctant to move much or in severe cases have trouble walking and could maybe even collapse.
- A pooch suffering from dehydration often doesn’t have much of an appetite, sometimes dogs aren’t even interested in having a drink.
- Heavy panting might be one of the first symptoms you notice, panting is one way that dogs cool themselves down as they don’t sweat through their skin in the same way that we do. Dogs normally pant when they are hot or after exercise, how would us Instagrammers get a Tongue Out Tuesday otherwise, but if they continue to pant heavily when taking a rest it can be an indication they are suffering from heatstroke or dehydration.
- One of the simplest ways to establish if your pooch is dehydrated is to check his skin has not lost any of it’s elasticity. Test by simply pinching some of the skin between your dog’s shoulder blades, when you let go it should spring back into place immediately, if the skin only returns to normal slowly or remains pinched he is probably suffering from dehydration. The longer it takes for your fur babies skin to return to normal the more dehydrated your dog is.
- Another way to tell if your dog is dehydrated is to examine his gums. A well hydrated dog’s gums are normally pink and look wet and glossy and if you gently press on them will turn white for a second before returning almost immediately to their normal pink colour. If your pooch is dehydrated his gums will stay whiter for longer because the capillaries in the gums are taking longer to refill and they might appear dry or sticky and dull.
- A very dehydrated dog’s eyes might also appear sunken and dry.
Lots of the symptoms of Heatstroke in dog’s are similar to the ones I have attributed to dehydration such as heavy panting and a lack of energy/lethargy. A fast or irregular heart beat is another as is excessive drooling.
You can try to cool your dog down by wrapping him in wet (use cool water, not uber cold) towels and offer small amounts of water, again not ice cold but in all honesty don’t hesitate to contact your vet if you think your dog has heat stroke.
In short if you suspect your dog is suffering from either of these conditions contact your vet for further advice as they can prove fatal in severe cases.
Have a great summer everpawdy and if you have any other ideas for keeping your dog cool drop them in the comments below.
Sal, Maya and Lucia xxx
- Some of the products in this post have been previously gifted to us but I am under no obligation to include them in this post, I just really rate them.