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How To Care For Your Dog In The Summer

Summer is such a lovely time of year and it's a wonderful excuse to spend time outside. And because we don't get much sunshine in Britain, it's only natural that we want to take full advantage of it!

But, just like when it snows and the world seems to come to a complete stop, hot weather is something we're just not used to. And if we're not careful, the hotter days can take us by surprise and we can forget about the risks.

Dogs cool themselves down by panting. Letting the hot air evaporate from their bodies and allowing colder air in to bring their temperatures down. Normally this is ok but as it gets hotter this becomes more difficult. Unlike humans, dogs don't sweat. So it's really important we help them to stay cool and don't put them in any situations where they're going to overheat.

There's no set heat that is too hot for dogs. It really depends on each individual and their tolerance to the warmer weather.

The most important thing is that you keep an eye out for the symptoms of dehydration and heatstroke.

And of course, factors such as size, age and thickness of coat, will all change what they can cope with – and what they can't.

What are the signs of overheating in dogs?

As the weather heats up, it's important you watch out for the signs of dehydration and heatstroke in your dog.

Dehydration can often manifest itself in the following ways:

  • Sunken eyes.
  • Dry gums.
  • Lack of energy.
  • Loss of skin elasticity – you can check this by gently pinching a bit of your dog's skin on their back. The skin should snap back into place quickly. If it does it more slowly or doesn't go back at all, your dog could be dehydrated and you should call your vet.

Heatstroke in dogs can make them display a variety of symptoms:

  • Excessive panting – this is one of the main symptoms of heatstroke in dogs.
  • Excessive drooling and a thick saliva.
  • Drowsiness, uncoordinated or lethargic – a dog who is suffering from heatstroke may seem confused.
  • Vomiting or diarrhea.
  • Collapsing.

Overhydration is less common but still a possible risk – especially if you are playing a lot of fetch around water. Signs of overhydration can include vomiting, confusion and lethargy.

If you spot anything different about your dog's behaviour or if you think there might be something wrong, call your vet immediately.

gorgeous dogs in the heat of the summer staying hydrated

What situations to look out for

If a dog is unable to cool themselves down when they are too hot, this can lead to heatstroke. Very young and old dogs are more susceptible to heatstroke, as well as those with thick, heavy coats.

You will also want to watch out for hot days if your dog is on medication as some types of treatment will affect how they deal with the heat.

Situations such as being left in the car can be fatal for dogs. It may not feel that hot outside but even with the windows open, temperatures inside the car can soar.

Your dogs should always have access to somewhere cool, shaded and ventilated to relax, where there's always clean, fresh water to drink.

What do if your dog is showing signs of heatstroke

If your dog is displaying signs of heatstroke, or dehydration, move them to a cool, shaded area immediately and call a vet.

If you see a dog trapped in a car and you think they might be displaying signs of heatstroke, the RSPCA advises you to call 999. Breaking the window of a car could still be classed as criminal damage so you must let the emergency services deal with the situation.

The quicker you call however, the sooner the dog will get help.

8 ways to keep your dog cool in the summer

  1. Staying hydrated is a big part of keeping cool so make sure your dog has cool, fresh water available to drink at all times.
  2. Allow them to sit in the shade and you might even want to get them a doggie paddling pool that has cool (not freezing cold) water for them to splash around in.
  3. Other ways to help them cool down are by doing things like making sure their hair stays short – so getting it cut more in the summer – as well as grooming them regularly to help them molt.
  4. Check the weather to make sure you know about any heat waves and can prepare.
  5. Never leave your dog in the car.
  6. Plan walks for earlier and later on in the day to avoid taking them out in the midday sun.
  7. Remember, if the concrete is too hot for you to stand on in bare feet, it can be very damaging to your dog's paws.
  8. Prepare some nice cool treats for your dog such as doggie ice lollies, some frozen dog-friendly gravy, or simply some broken bits of ice for them to crunch on.

Other things to think about over the summer

Summer is also known as flea season for pets so make sure your dog is up to date with all their treatments.

Fleas can cause a number of issues including intense itching, scratching, hair loss and dermatitis.

Speak to your vet on how to treat your dog for fleas and flea prevention.

Summer is great for getting out and about with your dog and we hope you enjoy spending time with them in the beautiful weather.

The most important thing is to keep an eye on them and be vigilant of any changes in their appearance or behaviour.

Not all dogs will know when they're too hot or when they need to rest and drink water. So, above everything, make sure you know where your dog is around the home and whether they're lying out in the garden or not, and that they have everything they need to stay cool.

happy dog running around on the beach near the sea

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Disclaimer: This content in this article is intended for information or entertainment purposes only, it is not intended to replace the advice of a vet or animal health professional. Your use of the information is entirely at your own risk and Me & My Pets assumes no responsibility for the use or misuse of the information found on this site. If you have any questions or concerns over your pet's wellbeing you should consult your vet immediately.

Posted in Dogs