Seven summer healthcare tips for senior dogs
Help your pet enjoy sunny days in safety and comfort
1. Provide plenty to drink
Dehydration is particularly dangerous in older dogs with age-related conditions, such as kidney disease, liver disease or diabetes. When the kidneys struggle to concentrate the urine, they also struggle to retain water, so your pet could quickly become dehydrated – particularly if he’s panting while active. Make sure your dog has a clean, cool supply of water available throughout the day.
2. Keep your microchip details up to date
Summer travel can mean lots of moving around and it’s possible for older pets, particularly those with sight problems, to become a little disorientated. Make sure your pet is microchipped before you head off, and check that your contact details are up to date.
3. Be prepared for shade
All dogs will appreciate shade, but older dogs in particular will want to rest in a cool spot, away from the frolics of the family. So if you’re out and about on a sunny day, carry a large umbrella or a portable, pop-up shade tent. If your pet is really struggling to cool down, wet towels draped over their head and back can help to alleviate any discomfort or distress.
4. Protect heart health
Older dogs are more vulnerable to heart disease and respiratory problems, and overheating can make it difficult to breathe. Seek your vet’s advice if your pet is finding it harder to breathe than usual.
5. 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.
6. Watch out for sunburn
'Lighter-coloured dogs are more susceptible to sunburn,' says Brian Faulkner. As with humans, the signs of damage may only appear after years of exposure. If you see blistering or crusting on the small area where your dog's skin meets its nose, ask your vet to check it out.
7. 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. Older (and wiser!) dogs are less likely to chase stinging insects, but if your dog appears to be in any respiratory discomfort after an insect sting, contact your vet.
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