How to keep dogs happy and healthy in the Summer

Summer sunshine and longer days mean happy times outdoors with your dog. Here’s how to make sure their wellbeing is taken care of too.

Being out in the sun can be fun for us humans, but for our dogs, rising temperatures can lead to overheating, dehydration and other serious health conditions.

Here, we share some expert tips on keeping dogs comfortably cool and answer seven top concerns about caring for your dog in hot weather.

Are there certain breeds or types of dog that struggle in the heat?

No matter what breed or how old your dog is, be mindful of how they handle the heat.

Dogs with double coats, thick fur or flat faces, for example, can struggle to regulate their body heat.

What can I do to help my dog?

Change your routine and enjoy short walks at cooler times, leave their ball at home and don’t encourage them to play with other dogs to avoid overheating.

Carry water and a bowl and avoid car journeys where possible. If you must travel by car, take extra water and towels in case you need to cool your dog down.

Never leave your dog alone in a car, even for a few moments, as the temperature inside can become very hot very quickly.

You can also prepare your dog for summer with grooming. Anna Pollard, a groomer from The Dog House, Leicester, advises brushing regularly to avoid knots and tangles. Dogs can’t sweat and this will allow their coat to work and release heat from the body.

‘Some breeds such as Huskies and Newfoundlands are double-coated and shed a lot of hair, meaning clipping isn’t suitable. The best way to keep on top of these coats is to brush them regularly to stop dead hair being compacted,’ Anna explains.

‘A summer cut or trim can be useful for curly-coated breeds, and for terriers and spaniels, we hand-strip, where dead hair is removed by hand to let the new coat grow through.’

Never cut the coat too close to the skin as this can lead to sunburn. Use a pet-friendly sun cream on fair skin to avoid sunburn and protect dogs’ nose and ears from skin cancer.

How do I know if my dog is overheating?

Dogs can’t say when they’re hot and bothered, so canine first aid expert Rachel Bean tells us to know the signs. Some may try to avoid being cuddled or touched, become less active and go looking for cool places.

Signs of overheating include:

  • Mood changes
  • Panting that is more rapid than usual
  • Drooling
  • Discomfort and restlessness.

Prevention is always better than cure when it comes to overheating, says Rachel, but if it does happen, bring your dog’s temperature down slowly.

How can I tell if my dog is dehydrated?

To avoid dehydration, ensure your dog can access cool, fresh water and don’t let them run or chase balls in the heat.

Watch out for increased thirst. Dehydrated dogs may pant, become lethargic, vomit or have diarrhoea, and their urine may be dark in colour.

Their gums and nose might be dry, and, in more serious cases, their skin can lose elasticity. If this is the case, speak to your vet straight away.

What is the safest way to cool my dog down?

The good news is that if you pick up on the signs early, it’s possible to cool your dog down fairly easily.

Try to keep them calm, put them in a shaded place with cool water and place a cool, soaked towel on their back, replacing it as it gets warm until their breathing starts to settle.

What should I do if I’m worried my dog can’t cool down?

If you suspect your dog has heat stroke and can’t regulate their temperature or seems unwell, call your vet. Heatstroke can lead to organ damage and your vet will need to check them over.

Is there anything I can buy for my dog to protect him in the hot weather?

  • Protect their skin with a dog-friendly sun cream from your vet or online
  • Use cool coats, made of chamois style material that absorbs water but remains cool to prevent them from getting too warm. Don’t use these if you’re going for a walk in the middle of the day
  • Buy a cool mat for them to lie on
  • Make tasty frozen Kongs - these are toys that can be stuffed with food or treats for your dog to play with, and
  • If you can’t go to the beach or a lake but your dog likes water, supervise some fun play in a paddling pool.

We work in partnership with the UK's animal charities and have seen first-hand the devastating impact Covid-19 is having on their income and the vital funds needed to support the animals in their care. For over 30 years we have been providing 4 weeks free insurance for rehomed pets and giving 10% of rescue pet premiums back to animal charities. In June, to help support animal charities through the Covid-19 crisis we paid over £700,000 in funds that our partners would have received from us in the next 6 months now, in one lump sum, to help them get through the pandemic.

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