How to keep your dog safe in the summer
The summer months bring sunny days and warmer weather for us humans. And whilst many of us may love the milder temperatures, Fido may not be so thrilled. Many dogs struggle in the heat, and the summer months bring certain hazards that all dog owners need to be aware of.
How do you take care of a dog in the summer?
From boiling hot pavements that can burn delicate paw pads to the dangers of hot cars and various critters that come out in the summer – there are many things that dog owners need to be aware of if they want to keep their pet safe in the summer. Weather is usually at its warmest in the UK throughout June, July and August so you’ll want to be prepared.
One of the best ways of protecting our canine companions is with insurance. Make sure you compare dog insurance and read our handy guide below, so your pet can be protected throughout the summer months. We’ve got some top care tips and crucial advice for pet owners at this time of year.
How can I keep my dog cool during the summer months?
Here are a few handy tips on how to keep Fido cool in the summer from the Bluecross charity:
Always ensure they have access to fresh water -
It may seem like an obvious piece of advice but it’s so easy to forget to fill up your dog’s water bowl. When it’s hotter you’ll need to refill their bowl more frequently as they’ll be drinking more, and you may need to leave extra water when you go out for long periods.
Cooling products for dogs
- There are a range of cooling products you can get for dogs. For example, self-cooling dog beds and cooling jackets designed especially for canines. Plus, you can get special frozen treats and cooling mats to bring their body temperatures down even further. You may want to consider investing in some of these things if your dog particularly struggles with the heat or if very hot weather is forecast.
You can also make your own homemade cooling snacks. For example, fill up a cong with food and freeze it, or make some dog-friendly frozen treats that you can freeze and give to your pup to lick on hot days.
Leave them in a cool room when you go out
- During the warmer months, you’ll want to consider which room you leave your dog in when you leave the house. You want to feel confident that it’s cool enough for them. If you put them in the kitchen, try not to use appliances that will heat up the room before you go out, like a tumble dryer or the oven. Think about which rooms are coolest in your home and where Fido will be most comfortable.
Keep them out of direct sunlight where possible
- Of course, Fido will want to have a run around in the garden and spend a bit of time in the sun, but limit their time outside on hotter days. Do they really need to be outside roasting in the garden when they can be nice and cool inside? If you do go on walks go early morning or in the evening and try to pick shaded areas. Don’t leave Fido in a room that gets lots of hot sun, it’s surprising how quickly a room can heat up, especially if it’s south facing.
What to do if your dog gets too hot outside
If you can see that your dog is getting a little too hot outside, you can always cool them down by pouring water over them. Or just get a cloth and squeeze some water behind their ears, on their paws and down their back. Some dogs may not like to be sprayed with water but it will instantly cool them down. Another option is to get a little paddling pool for your garden that your dog can go in to instantly cool off if they wish.
The first thing to do is to check for signs of heat stroke, and if you are concerned, take them to a vet to be checked over.
Heat stroke can be life threatening, which is why it’s so important to be able to notice the signs and get your dog treated as soon as possible. Take a look at this handy guide to treatment for heat stroke in dogs on the RSPCA website.
Signs to look out for include:
- Excessive drooling
- Excessive panting
- Lethargy, tiredness, drowsiness, lack of energy
- Sickness and diarrhoea
- Collapsing on the ground
To prevent heat stroke happening in the first place, there are some key dos and don’ts:
- Don’t let them over-exercise
- Don’t leave your dog in a hot, enclosed space
- Don’t allow them to stay in direct sunlight when they’re clearly uncomfortable
- Do always make sure they have access to water and that they keep hydrated
If your dog suffers in the heat it’s probably best to avoid letting them outside in the garden when temperatures begin to rise. Give them some time out in the garden early in the morning before it’s too hot, and if you do need to let them out, always supervise them and do it for short periods at a time.
How do I help my dog stay hydrated in summer?
Having a constant water source available is the best way to keep your dog from dehydrating through the summer months. If your pet doesn’t appear to be drinking enough, add something tasty to their water that might encourage them to drink more of it. Or you can even add a bit of water to their food to get some extra H2O in.
Don’t go on long walks without any access to water. Make sure you take a portable water source and a foldable drinking bowl (or a water bottle that has a bowl attached that you can fold and retract). Try to encourage your pup to drink by bringing them back to their water bowl if they start to ignore it. You can also give ice cubes as treats (if your dog’s tum is ok with them) and get drinking fountains for dogs.
NEVER leave your dog in a hot car
This is a mistake far too many owners make when it can be easily avoided. On hot days, your parked car can quickly turn into a sauna. Don’t leave your dog in the car on warm days, even for a few minutes – a car that’s too warm can be life-threatening for a dog. Simply opening the windows won’t always be enough to keep Fido comfortable. It’s just not worth taking the risk.
It can also be too hot to travel with your dog in the car if you don’t have air con and your car is already too hot inside before you set off. In the summer, plan car journeys with your pooch ahead of time. Travel at cooler times of the day and ensure you’ve packed plenty of water. Also, leave the car door open for a few seconds before jumping in, to let some of the heat escape.
Exercising Fido when it’s hot
Instead of taking your dog on long, hot walks in direct sunshine, be strategic about their exercise regime. It’s obviously a lot cooler early in the morning, and the pavements are less likely to have heated up. Before you go out, check how hot the tarmac feels to ensure your pooch won’t burn their paw pads. Late evening is also a good time to pop out for a walk. Avoid midday when the heat of the sun can be far too much for dogs to cope with.
You’ll also want to limit the amount of exercise they do on the warmest days. Your dog can cope with slightly shorter walks when temperatures are too hot for a two-hour hike. You may also want to consider taking your dog on walks where they can go swimming and cool off, such as the seaside, a lake or river. Swimming is an excellent low-impact form of exercise and it will help tire them out and keep cool at the same time.
Helping your dog avoid sunburn
Surprisingly, dogs can get skin damage from the sun just like humans do – particularly light and white-haired dogs, and especially hairless breeds. Some short-haired pooches can also suffer with sunburn if the sun gets through to their skin. So do keep this in mind in the summer and on sunny days keep Fido out of direct sunlight and find a shady spot where they can hang out.
Grooming in the summer months
Brushing your dog regularly can help get rid of any build up of hair and knots, which ultimately helps to keep your dog cooler because their coat isn’t as thick and more air can circulate through it. Keep on top of grooming in the summer months but don’t be fooled into thinking a super-short buzz cut is the best way to keep a dog cool, as it can simply expose their skin more. However, keeping their coat at a comfortable, reasonable length will certainly help.
Critters, bugs and insects
It’s not just the warm weather that can be potentially harmful to your dog. Summer brings a whole host of bugs and insects that should be on your radar. These include:
Ticks - Ticks are prominent between April and June, and they’re also around a lot between August and November. You can come across them year round but they seem to multiply when it’s warm. So be vigilant and check your pup for ticks when you get back from walks in long grass and woodland in particular. You can buy proper tick remover tools for under £5 online and at many pet shops – something that Lyme Disease Action recommends.
Wasps and bees - Though the odd sting shouldn’t cause a problem unless Fido has an allergy, lots of dogs will try to snap at bees and wasps. They’ll see them (or hear them) buzzing around and try to catch them in their mouth, and the last thing you want is for your poor pooch to get stung in their mouth, or worse, their throat. Watch out for bees and wasps flying around your dog and try to stop them from eating them!
Adders - Another hazard to watch out for is Adders. They tend to come out from hibernation around March time and can be seen throughout the summer months. There’s a chance you or your pooch may encounter one on a dog walk.
If bitten the majority of dogs will make a full recovery, but only if they receive the right care. In fact, 96% of bitten dogs will recover in 5 days or less. Adders tend to reside in grasslands, rocky areas and sand dunes. If Fido does get bitten, you may hear them yelp and show signs of pain – but if your dog is out exploring far away you may not see it happen. Keeping your dog on a lead and sticking to paths in areas where Adders have been spotted can reduce the chances of your dog coming into contact with one.
Some of the signs they may have been bitten include a wound with two small entry points, swelling in the area where the bite occurred and limping. Your pooch may clearly be in pain. They will probably start to pant excessively and have a fast heartbeat and pale gums. For further information on the symptoms of Adder bites in dogs, click here.
Of course, if you think your dog has been bitten by an Adder you should seek the immediate advice of a veterinary professional. But here are some basic tips on what to do:
- Carry them if they aren’t too heavy (this helps prevent the venom from spreading).
- Don’t panic, stay calm so that you don’t stress out your dog
- Get your dog to the vet as quickly and as calmly as possible where they can receive treatment.
Compare dog insurance
With all the above in mind, it’s imperative that every owner has got adequate cover for their canine companion in order to keep them safe throughout the summer months. Enjoy the warmer time of year, knowing that your pet is protected.
Click here to compare dog insurance and get a quick quote online today.