Summer is quite possibly the best time of the year for dogs and dog-owners a like. Plenty of warm, sunny days to get out and about in, walking and exploring. From heading to the beach, to hiking together to a simple walk in the park, the outdoor activity possibilities are almost endless. What’s important to remember, however, is that dogs need a bit of special care during these warm (often stiflingly hot) periods to ensure that their health and wellbeing remains in top condition. Here we provide you with our top tips to keep your dogs cool and healthy this summer, and to make sure they enjoy the sunny season as much as possible.
1. Keep your dog hydrated
This might seem obvious, but sometimes it can take a little bit of preparation. If you’re heading out all day, make sure there are adequate sources of water inside or outside of your home (depending on where you leave your dog). A great idea is to leave some ice cubes in the water bowls, as it will help to keep the water cool throughout more of the day. You might even like to purchase an automatic water dispenser. If you’re heading out on a walk, make sure you take more than enough water to keep your dog’s hydration up.
Symptoms of dehydration: sunken eyes, dry gums, lethargy, weakness, fainting, loss of skin elasticity.
2. Make sure your dog doesn’t overheat
Hand in hand with hydration is heat management. It’s vital that your dog doesn’t overheat. Sadly, heatstroke is relatively common for dogs during the summer months – we all hear the awful stories of dogs locked hot cars, for example. What this means is that you need to be sensible about when you take your dog outside, and where you leave him/her. Midday sun is often too strong and excessively long walks might take too much of a toll when the temperature is above 25 degrees.
If you see signs that your dog in indeed overheating, there are a few things you can do to cool him/her down. A cool towel placed on the belly should do the trick, although more advanced cooling mats or vests are available to prevent and treat heat problems effectively.
As with humans, if heat stroke isn’t treated it can cause serious problems from nausea to brain damage and in extreme cases death, so it should always be taken very seriously.
Symptoms of heatstroke: high temperature, excessive panting, difficulty breathing, red eyes, excessive drooling, fainting, general weakness.
3. Flea and Tick prevention is important
Most of us have a pretty good system down for ensuring that our dogs are guarded against fleas and ticks, however it’s important to remember that these insects and parasites are far more active during the summer months. Fleas especially can be easily picked up and are found outside in just about any setting. Your dog is more likely to pick up ticks in areas with lots of grass, particularly tall grass, bushy areas and piles of wood. The best thing you can do is check them regularly and of course use one of the many preventative medicines available (oral pills, topical liquids, collars etc.), it’s best to consult your vet for the best solution.
Signs your dog has fleas: itching and scratching, red pimples or bumps.
Signs your dog has a tick(s): fever, unexplained scabs, excessive head shaking, small bumps, you see a tick in your home.
Obviously as the Celsius rises, we need to take our dog’s coats into consideration. Particularly if you have a long haired dog, it might not be practical for them to carry their full coat around all summer, however shaving is often not necessary. In short more grooming is required during summer. Daily brushing will get rid of any excess hair while also giving you a good chance to check for any skin problems, ticks or fleas. Dogs don’t necessarily need to be clipped or shaved during summer, as their coat is designed to regulate the temperature of their body, however there are a few breeds that can benefit. For most, a haircut should suffice. Again, it’s best to check with your vet as there are several downsides to shaving your dog – sunburn for one.
You should apply dog sunscreen to your pup’s ears and nose if you’re outside during high UV hours.
It could also be a fun idea to get a kiddy-pool for your dog to splash around in in the garden – we all know how refreshing some cool water can be on a hot day.
Tiahn Wetzler is a journalist, writer, editor and animal lover. Follow her on Instagram @tiahnwetzler