1. Play water games
Stay cool together with a squirty water bottle or a hose – you’ll both have fun and your dog will drink extra water, helping to avoid dehydration. If it’s too hot even to play and your dog is really struggling to cool down, wet towels draped over their head and back can help to alleviate any discomfort or distress.
2. Keep bugs at bay
Most external parasites thrive with heat and moisture. Avoid walking in scrub grass or fields where ticks proliferate, and keep your dog’s flea and worming treatments up to date. Stinging insects can be irresistible to active dogs who love to chase! Although bee and wasp stings are painful, allergic reactions are rare. But if your dog appears to be in any respiratory discomfort after an insect sting, contact your vet.
3. Careful car travel
´Never leave your dog in a car in hot weather,´ says Petplan Vet of the Year, Brian Faulkner. ´Even short periods of time can leave your dog seriously ill and dehydrated.´ Keep cars well ventilated while you drive, and make regular stops for water. If you’re travelling by car after your pet has eaten, try to let at least an hour pass to reduce the risk of travel sickness.
4. Dispose of BBQ leftovers
Bones and corn-on-the-cob husks are both common causes of obstruction in dogs’ throats and digestive systems. Keep pre-cooked food well out of reach and avoid feeding your pet the BBQ leftovers, however tempting they might find them.
5. Check between your pet´s toes
Grass seeds and stems become incredibly sharp in hot, dry weather, and can penetrate your dog’s paws and ears. Avoid walking in areas with long grass, if you can, and take the time to check over your pet and remove anything sharp when you get home. Sand and grit from beach walks can have the same effect, so give your dog’s paws a rinse in fresh water when you leave the beach to avoid irritation or discomfort.
6. Stay out of the midday sun
Swap afternoon walks to early mornings. Active dogs pant so much that on very hot days they can lose up to 5 per cent of their body moisture (if they don’t have access to replacement water). Walk when the sun is at its least fierce, and carry water with you.
7. Be aware of the skin ´hot spots´
Summer allergens, such as pollen, can bring on skin itching and irritation. Dogs can also develop wet eczema – known as a ‘hot spot’. ‘It’s a raw, circular patch of inflamed skin, about the size of 50p piece, and it can flare up quickly in hot weather,’ says Brian Faulkner. He recommends visiting your vet at the first sign, before it becomes more difficult to treat.