Hold the Hot Dogs… Keep Your Pet Cool This Summer

It took a while for summer to get here but we have seen some hot days.  It‘s great for us but we don’t have an all-over coat, so imagine how unpleasant it can be for our four-legged friends.

Sharon Nicholson and her daughter Lucy, from The Dog Room in Cockermouth, offer advice on how to keep our dogs cool and comfortable over summer.

Regular grooming

You should always make sure dogs are groomed by a professional groomer and always listen to their advice.  You might think shaving your double-coated dog will cool them but it’s not the case.  You may overexpose your dog, which can cause sunburn and skin conditions.

Double coated dogs like Huskies have two layers of fur. The undercoat is the fine, fluffy hairs closest to the skin.  It’s the fur that sheds and is light and soft. This layer is excellent at trapping air and insulating the dog. Essentially it keeps them warm in winter and cool in summer.

The topcoat is made of tougher guard hairs that don’t shed and they protect your pet from the sun’s harmful rays and bug bites. It insulates them from the heat and shaving will not help them stay cool, evolution has provided what they need and stripping them of their natural ability to heat and cool themselves could do more harm than good.

Dogs don’t cool themselves through their skin, it’s only the pads of their paws that sweat, their main mode of cooling comes from panting.

Plan your walks

Walk your dog in the early morning or late in the evening, when temperatures are cooler.  Be particularly careful if your dog is unfit, obese or suffers from breathing difficulties.

Do the Seven Second Test

If it’s too hot for your hand, it’s too hot for paws.  Tarmac can get very hot, so check it before letting your dog walk on it.

Provide shade and water

Make sure your dog has access to shade and plenty of fresh water throughout the day.

Don’t let them get burnt

Use pet-safe sun cream on exposed parts of their skin such as the tips of their ears and nose and avoid direct sunlight where you can.

What to do if your dog overheats

If dogs are too hot and unable to reduce their body temperature by panting, they will develop heatstroke, which can be fatal.  Some are more prone – such as old or young dogs, those with heavy coats or those with flat faces like Pugs and Boxers.  Dogs with certain diseases or on some types of medication are also at greater risk.

Look out for any of the following:

Panting heavily

Drooling excessively

Appears lethargic, drowsy or uncoordinated

Vomiting

Collapsing

If your dog is showing any of the signs, please follow emergency first aid and contact the nearest vet.

Emergency first aid for dogs with heatstroke

For the best chance of survival, dogs urgently need to have their body temperature lowered but it needs to be done gradually or they can go into shock.  If your dog has collapsed, call a vet immediately as they may advise attending as a matter of emergency rather than starting treatment yourself.

In milder cases follow these steps:

Move the dog to a cool, shaded area and immediately start pouring small amounts of room temperature water onto their body (cold water may cause shock).  If possible, use wet towels or place the dog in the breeze of a fan. If using towels be sure to re-apply water regularly and not to keep the dog constantly covered.

Allow your dog to drink small amounts of room temperature water and continue to pour a little water onto the dog until their breathing starts to settle but not so much that they start to shiver.

Once your dog is getting cooler and their breathing is settled, call the nearest vet so they can be checked over.

A few basic precautions will mean summer is fun for everyone.

Pick up a copy of the August – September issue and find this voucher on page 59 to get 10% off your pets grooming at The Dog Room, Cockermouth

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