The unpredictable British summer has officially landed and although we’re never quite sure what weather we’ll be blessed with day-to-day, we’re certainly seeing some pockets of pretty high temperatures. All we want to do when the sun makes an appearance is spend time outside enjoying it and no one wants to leave their dog behind at home - but unfortunately our dogs can really struggle in the heat.
The good news is that there are plenty of ways you can help keep your dog cool in hot weather so that they can stay safe at home and join you on your beach days and picnics.
Keep water close by
Whether you are at home or out and about, make sure your dog always has access to water - and not just for drinking. Paddling pools in the garden or a quick splash down from a bottle of water on their paws, belly and underarms are effective ways of keeping them cool throughout the day. Not all dogs are okay with paddling or being doused with water however, so if that sounds familiar then wrapping them in cold, damp towels is a good alternative.
There’s also plenty of cooling mats, cooling coats and bandanas on the market which are especially good for car journeys and hot weather walks. These use a cooling technology to keep your dog’s temperature down when being used. Be wary of anything that contains a cooling gel if your dog has a tendency to chew or dig though - the last thing you want is them consuming something they shouldn’t.
Watch when you exercise
If you are going to take your dog out for the day, make sure that you’re taking every precaution to manage their temperature. Take plenty of water with you and be mindful of how warm your car gets, remembering to never leave them inside one alone.
Generally though, it’s best to stay home and keep activity to a minimum. During particularly hot spells, schedule walks for early in the morning or later in the evening before the sun gets too warm. If you think your dog might be going a little stir crazy stuck indoors by the afternoon, make use of games in the house to stimulate their brain. Dogs actually often need this stimulation more than they need to exercise and run around. You could try playing hide and seek, creating a treat trail or teaching them an impressive new party trick or two.
Create some homemade cool snacks
Not much beats a refreshing cold drink or an ice cream on a summer's day, right? There’s plenty of ways you can extend this pleasure to your dog too. Try freezing their favourite snack into an ice lolly using ice cube trays or ice lolly moulds; be that peanut butter, banana, cheese or yogurt. Munching on something like this will cool them down whilst keeping their minds busy in the house, as frozen treats are naturally harder work to consume.
You might find that when your dog starts to get quite hot, they might not want to drink quite as much. Try and keep a close eye on this and encourage them to drink where possible. You could try feeding them an ice cube. If you can ‘trick’ your dog into thinking that a simple ice cube is an exciting treat, then you’re winning. Snacking on ice cubes will reduce your dog's body temperature and hydrate them in the process.
Failing that, try adding a splash of water to their food at mealtimes, or entice them to drink by adding carrot juice, chicken broth of pieces of dog friendly fruit to their water bowls. You could try apples, blueberries, strawberries or watermelon without the pips.
Dog friendly sun cream
You wouldn’t sit out in the sun or send your kids out to play without protecting skin with sun cream first - but don’t forget your four-legged families members too. Just like us, dogs can suffer sunburn, particularly those with light skin and white fur or on any part of their body that is sparsely covered with hair.
We would always recommend seeking out a sun cream specifically designed for dogs, or one suitable for babies and children with an SPF of 15 or higher. Chances are, your dog will try and lick any sun cream applied and give it the all-important taste test. Some ingredients in sun cream are potentially toxic to dogs, so avoid zinc oxide or anything fragranced.
Protect your pup
Summer is a wonderful time to really enjoy your dog's company in the great outdoors, but just remember that they are experiencing the heat whilst donning a fur coat, so they might not appreciate the sun quite as much as you will. It’s our job to recognise when our dog is getting too hot before they have to let us know so keep your precious pups safe this summer!