Tips for cooling your dog in warm weather
In hot summer weather it is important to keep your dog cool. Extreme heat feels uncomfortable for your dog and can lead to dangerous, even fatal situations. Dogs don’t have sweat glands all over their bodies like humans do. These animals therefore do not have the ability to cool their body by producing perspiration fluid. What can you do to prevent your dog from overheating and what signals from your pet can tell you that he is too hot?
Symptoms of overheating in a dog
Prevention is better than cure, but if your dog is showing any of the following symptoms, there is a chance that the heat is getting too much and that he is overheated.
- The dog is panting quickly and heavily
- He is drooling more than usual and the liquid is thicker
- He does not or hardly react to things in his environment
- An accelerated heartbeat
In extreme cases, muscle relaxation can occur. If the dog is not helped in the right way by means of cooling and fluid administration, heat stroke can even follow. This condition is very serious and can lead to the death of your pet.
What is heat stroke?
Heat stroke causes body temperature to rise above 41 degrees Celsius. At a body temperature of this level, the various vital organs are affected. These can become so damaged that they eventually fail. This can cause brain damage, so that your dog will never recover. In the worst case, he will not survive heat stroke. It is therefore vital that you are alert and observe your dog’s behavior on summer days so that you can act in time and keep your dog safe and comfortable.
Cooling tips to prevent your dog from overheating
Now that you know the damage heat can do to your four feet, you probably also want to know what you can do to avoid such nasty situations. Some of the tips focus on your dog’s safety and the others can help increase your pet’s comfort.
Choose a convenient time for the long walk
Dogs need to be walked, even in hot weather. Do the more extensive walk early in the morning or late at night when the sun is not shining. Always try to choose the paths and roads that also catch little or no sun during the day. During the heat of the day, only walk the dog for short, necessary stretches so that he can relieve himself. You certainly do not do yourself or your dog any pleasure to have to walk in full sun.
Think about the walking route and choose a nice surface
Have you ever stood with your bare feet on sun-drenched asphalt at a temperature of 30 degrees Celsius? You can imagine that this is not a pleasant experience. This is no different for your dog. Instead, opt for a walk on grass or earth and leave the paved paths and asphalt roads for what they are. If you have any doubts about the heat of the substrate? Then you can feel with your hand or your bare foot and make a reasonable estimate of whether this soil type allows a comfortable walk for your dog.
Water, water and more water
Make sure the dog always has access to fresh, cool drinking water during the day. Check regularly if there is still water in his bowl. You can also set up a children’s pool in your garden and fill it with cold water. A dip in the water is a great way for your dog to cool his body and many dogs love playing in water too. Dry the dog after it has been in the pool. With long-haired dogs, the moisture between the hairs can scald and irritate and with the shorthairs the risk of sunburn with wet skin increases. Rub the worst moisture away with a towel and then preferably leave the dog in the shade to dry further.
Provide shade that you can move
The place in your garden where the sun shines moves during the day. That is why it is useful to be able to move the shade. In other words, make sure you have, for example, a parasol at your disposal that you can easily place in a different place or set it to a different position, so that the shade falls on a different part of your garden. Even though it is very hot outside, a breeze can make the heat more bearable. Indoors, on the other hand, it can feel stuffy and oppressive.
If you want to treat your dog to a summer day, you can opt for shaved ice instead of a dog biscuit. This will help the dog cool down and he will probably find it very pleasant to be able to eat something cold. You can also add some shaved ice to his drinking water to make it a bit fresher. Chewing ice cubes can damage your dog’s teeth. Giving a large ice cube can also lead to choking or suffocation. That’s why ice shavings are preferred.
Never leave your dog in the car in extremely hot weather
If you have to go out during a hot day and your dog can’t stay home for some reason, you can take it with you in the car. Make sure that the inside of the car is cooled slightly by climate control or open the car windows slightly. Also, before your dog gets in, check that the part where he will lie down is not too hot. You can imagine that this is not the case if your car has been in full sun with black ski upholstery. In such a case, place a cool cloth where your dog will lie down. Never, ever leave your dog in the car after the car ride. Unfortunately, there are annual stories to read about abandoned dogs, in some cases dogs that have not survived the stay in the car.
In short the most important things at a glance
- Is your dog observing behaviors that could be a symptom of overheating?
- Observe the environment, is there continuous access to water and a shady environment?
- Is the surface on which the dog is moving too hot?
What if your dog is overheated or seems to have heat stroke?
If, despite all precautions, you suspect that your dog has overheated or even has a heat stroke, it is important to act quickly to prevent (further) damage to the organs of the dog. Place your dog in the shade in a cool place. Then cool your dog with lukewarm water. You can do this by letting the water run over him, but also by putting wet cloths on him. It is important that the dog does not cool down too quickly, as hypothermia symptoms can develop. So don’t choose ice cold water. Then always offer the dog small amounts of drinking water to gradually replenish its moisture. Contact the vet and explain the situation. He will be able to tell you whether further (medical) treatment is necessary.