We’ve had a great July for the Great British Summer but the warmer weather isn’t always suitable for our dogs.
Even if your dog is a sun worshipper there will be limits to what they can tolerate – but how do we know when it’s too warm for our regular routine of walks, play time in the garden etc and what could we do with our dogs to help them?
🐶 If it’s too hot for you it’s too hot for your dog so consider if a walk or play in the garden is essential
🐶 If your dog is preferring to lay on cool floor tiles or wooden flooring instead of their usual beds/blankets etc then they are feeling the heat
🐶 If your dog isn’t wanting to do things they usually would then they may be too hot to do regular activities
Does my Dog need a Daily Walk regardless of heat?
The short answer is no!
Although our dogs may enjoy going out with us to explore new places, investigate scent, interact with us etc, it’s more important to ensure their are safe and well and walks when temperatures are over 22-25 degrees upwards can cause dehydration, heat stroke and more. 🚰
A dog’s regular temperature is 38.5 degrees – heat stroke can start occurring with just a 2 degree increase and by 43 degrees internal organs will start to fail. Consider those facts!
What can we do for our dogs if we don’t walk them?
🐶 Brain Games – teaching your dog something static like a chin target, give paw, nose touch, cross paws etc, hide a treat under one of 2/3 cups and ask your dog to find where it’s hidden, teaching your dog to paw a bell or buzzer can be a lot of fun too!
🐶 Water in bowls, paddling pool to stand in, lay in etc, floating toys in a pool for your dog to paw at, collect etc. please be aware of Water Intoxication which can happen when dogs ingest lots of water. This can potentially happen when a dog is diving into water to retrieve a toy repeatedly and they take in water as they get the toy or through games with water being sprayed through hosepipes or dogs pushing the dog toy which releases a jet of water upwards for dogs to grab.
🐶 Free Work; setting up stations around a shady garden or cool room with areas such as snuffle mats, interactive toys, toys hidden to be found and dogs can mooch from station to station working through challenges without over exerting.
🐶 Create a shady area in the garden and arrange a Scentwork course! Use boxes, garden furniture, flowerpots etc to create a course and hide treats or toys behind one or two of the items, ask your dog to ‘find’ which they do by going from station to station but at their own pace.
How can I help my dog not over heat?
🐶 Providing shade in the garden gives a nice way to escape a potentially stuffy house – using parasols, silver sheets, dog tents, raised beds with attached shades can all help
🐶 Ensure there is access to fresh water at all times; dogs can drink water quicker as well as water evaporating when it’s hot so check there is water and bowls outside should be in the shade. If filling bowls using a hosepipe it’s worth noting that when in the sun the water inside can become up to 54-60 degrees Celsius- that’s enough to cause burns!
🐶 Using cooling bandanas, collars, coats etc can help if your dog suffers even the lower summer temperatures but keep an eye on the items as some need to be kept wet; once completely dry they become a regular coat trapping heat against your dog’s body.
🐶 Cooling mats and beds! Yes these are real and can really help! Look for ones that aren’t gel filled if your dog is likely to chew or dig on the mat. There’s a huge range of different types now including proper beds so dogs with joint issues can be comfortable and cooler.
🐶 Provide cool snacks – these can be used for the free work and games as above or given as a free snack. Chopped banana, blueberries, cucumber, celery are often enjoyed by dogs – celery has a naturally cooling effect too.
🐶 Offer your dog a Doggie Ice Cream, Smoothie or Pupcicle! Dogs do not tolerate lactose too well so dog friendly ice creams are lactose/dairy free. You can make a smoothie with dairy free yoghurt, kefir, ice cream and even add your own fruit too! This week my dogs have had strawberry and blueberry smoothies!
What are the signs of Heatstroke in Dogs?
- Drooling and foaming at the mouth
- Bright red gums
- Weakness and collapsing
- Vomiting and diarrhoea (sometimes containing blood)
- Sadly dogs can and do die
What should I do if I suspect heatstroke?
- Move your dog indoors or into a shady area immediately
- Give them a drink of cold/cool water (not ice, or icy water as this can cause shock
- Contact your vet
- Make sure they have plenty of air flowing around them
- Try and help them stay calm
- Put them on top of a wet towel – do not cover them with a wet towel
- Use cool (not icy) water to slowly wet the top of their head, feet, ears and fur inc chest area
- Once a little cooler, you can start to pour cool water over their body (be careful they don’t inhale any)
- If possible, continue this with your dog on the way to your vet
What if I can’t avoid walking my dog; before going to work, before a long journey on holiday etc?
🐶 Find somewhere with lots of shade such as woodlands or an area with building that will give shade.
🐶 Don’t be tempted to throw a ball over and over or encourage your dog to run and play until too hot – instead take your dog to an area in the shade where they can sniff about or you could hide treats or toys for them to find!
🐶 If your dog likes water taking them to an area to paddle or swim will be great enrichment and a great way to cool off.
🐶 If possible try to avoid pavements or sand when it’s the warmest times of the day as these potentially can cause burns to your dog’s feet
🐶 Take water – for you as well as your dog! You need to stay hydrated otherwise who will look after your dog!!
🐶 Consider using cooling coats, harnesses, bandanas etc
Enjoy the nicer weather with your dog and stay safe together!
Joe Nutkins CPCFT, CTDI, CSDTDip.DTBC, KCAI
Dog Training for Essex & Suffolk