Keeping your dog cool in the summer months can be critical to their well-being and overall health. Too many people are ignorantly guilty of putting their dogs lives in jeopardy because they don’t consider the affects of the summer sun on the surrounding environment.
How to prevent overheating
Dogs may overheat in a vast number of scenarios, however there are a set of most common mistakes everyone needs to be aware of:
Leaving Dogs In Vehicles
This has to be the biggest accidental offensive the general public are guilty of every year. A parked car in summer gains heat extremely rapidly, regardless of if the sun is shining directly upon it or not. Below is one of many examples available online as to how hot a car can get in a short period of time (courtesy of the RSPCA)
Exercising in hot conditions
Whilst regular exercise is important to your dogs health, doing it when it is very warm can be the least healthy things you can do. Below are the three key areas to address when exercising your dog in warm conditions.
Most hard-wearing, and especially man-made surfaces, will adsorb and retain heat easily on hot days. This includes all roads, pavements, sidewalks, car parks and much more besides. Ideally, you should only walk your dog on natural surfaces during the warmer months, and grass lands and natural paths usually do not retain heat in the same way.
If walking your dog on pavements and similar surfaces is the only option, then you should check the temperature of the surface yourself before allowing your dog out on to it. The most common test we’ve found is; “press and hold the back of your hand to the ground for 3 seconds, if doing so is uncomfortable in any way, then it is not appropriate to allow your pet to walk on it either…”. We think that’s pretty simple and straight forward.
If you believe that exercising your dog when it is absolutely necessary, then ensuring frequent and plentiful water-stops are an absolute must. There is no timing guide for this as every dog is so different. Just give water stops frequently, if a dog does not drink, continue to give the stops regardless so at least to provide the opportunity.
Water stops don’t just mean an opportunity to drink, they can including swimming in appropriate locations, and also allow your dog to paddle their paws in water – even if just their drinking bowl – as this can provide effective cooling to their whole bodies.
Whilst most dog owners see walking as the primary form of exercise, many sled-dog owners see running or working-in-harness as the preferable way to extract all of that husky energy.
It’s important to remember that when warm, anything more than a slightly stroll is a very quick route to overheating, see our info graphic below for the appropriate conditions for running your dog.
Signs of overheating
Not every dog will show symptoms of overheating in the same way, but the following most common signs should give you a good idea of what to look for.
- High Body Temperature
- Overall Weakness
- Staggering About
- Overly Thirst / Excessive Drinking
- Eyes Appear Glazed-Over
- Heavy Panting
- Blood in Stools (Diarrhoea)
- Bright or Dark Tongue and/or Gums*
- Elevated Heart-rate
- Drooling Excessively
*Checking the tongue and gums can be an early indicator of overheating, and is also one of the easiest to check in the early stages.
How to keep dogs cool
- Do Not Shave Them; Here we are explicitly referring to huskies and other breeds with an active double-coat. Please check the advise of reputable breed experts before grooming your dog. For Siberian Huskies, they use the two layers of fur to get more air to their skin. Without a full coat, this is not possible and increases the risk of overheating.
- Permanent Access To Fresh Water; Nothing is more refreshing than fresh water straight from the tap.
- Cooling Technology; 21st Century dog owners have an abyss of choice when it comes to pet products. Now many manufacturers are producing cooling jackets, floor mats and toys to keep your dog cooler.
- Change Your Exercise Routine; Take them out before the sun rises, or after it has set. Whilst it is still warm, the noticeable drop in temperature will increase your pets want to get out and about. Still air caution and employ all the considerations listed above, including plenty of water stops.
- Listen To Your Dog; not in a Dr Doolittle kind of way, but they are very good at indicating their need for things provided you know what to look for. If your dog is restless when warm, it may not mean they wish to exercise – but that they cannot get comfy. Try to make them more comfortable, cooler and refreshed with fresh water before concluding that exercise really is the only way.
- Regulate Any Sunbathing; it may sound obvious, or even daft – but many dogs enjoy soaking up the rays, even when it’s a bit too warm to be doing so. When they just want to lie down and relax, ensure they are on a cool surface in a well-shaded area.