So, with the hot weather making an appearance, I thought I’d write a post about ways to help keep your dog cool & comfortable.

The Ultimate Insulator

A well maintained, dogs coat actually acts like a thermal regulator, not only does it provide an obvious benefit when the temperatures are low, but when the temperature starts to rise, your dog will go through a coat change (moulting) which means that his thicker winter coat thins out. This thinner coat helps to slow down the process of heat absorption, so, the less sun & heat that reaches the dog’s skin, the less hot your dog will be. 

Think of your dog’s coat as a parasol, it protects you from the suns rays, from heat & helps keep you cool, shaving a well maintained the coat can take away this protection & expose the dog to direct heat & take away their ability to self-regulate their temperature.

With this thinner (well maintained) coat, whilst walking your dog’s hair will float & move, which allows cooler air to pass over their skin, again assisting with keeping cool.

Built-In Sunscreen

Your dog’s coat also offers valuable protection against sun burn & sun damage, which can develop into skin cancer.

Any place on the body of your dog with very short or little hair (such as noses or tummies) is susceptible to sunburn.

Dogs with a light skin pigmentation are also more prone to sunburn, however dogs with dark pigmentation can also get burnt.

Using a pet-approved sunscreen on exposed areas can help minimise the risk, but the best course of action would be to watch your dog for indicators of sunburn & minimise his time in the direct sunlight.

Save the Shave (Buzz Cut)

A common mis-conception is that shaving your dog (& I mean a buzz cut!) will help him feel cooler in the summer, but this is normally not the case, unless your dog is prone to matting.

Shaving some breeds – especially those with a double coat, can actually ruin their coat, as it alters the way that the hair grows, which can result in patchy, uneven sections & even bald spots.

As with most things in life though, there are exceptions, some regularly groomed dogs, do seem to be happier once they’ve had a summer trim, but this should not be in the form of the shortest cut possible.

A Little Trim

There is no need to go super short in the summer to assist your dog with overheating, even a little trim can help him feel cooler. Keeping pads, feet and tummies clear can help with keeping your pooch comfortable.

Brushing your dog regularly will also remove any dead, loose hair, preventing it forming knots & mats, which will in turn stop the skin being able to breath, stop the airflow over the skin & potentially cause skin problems.

Keeping Cool

Your dog will instinctively know how to get relief from the heat, providing there is some nearby to be had……..

  • Ensure that there is always a clean water available to your dog, this sounds obvious but you must be remembering to check the bowl regularly. If your dog drinks the bowl dry quickly consider, more bowls or a bigger bowl.
  • Take water on a walk with you
    • Ensure that you offer it to your pet frequently. 
    • If your dog will not drink it then pour it over the dog to dampen them down. 
    • Encourage your dog into shaded areas whilst walking. 
    • Let your pet rest in the shade if he needs it.
  • Lino & Tile flooring will offer a cooler surface to lay on.
  • Consider a fan at floor level & even pointed at your dog (he will move if it becomes intolerable, do not force him to lay in front of it, he will gradually learn it’s a benefit), this will help circulate cooler air around him.
  • A shallow pool (the dog should be able to stand with its head above the water level) / large bowl of water, will give water-loving dogs a place to play. Some dogs will also run & play under a sprinkler or hose.
  • Damp towels for them to lay on will be of benefit.
  • Ensure there is plenty of shade available in your garden, if there is no natural covering then consider hanging a sheet or thin blanket to provide some.
  • Specialist aqua coats / collars & mats are available (type in cooling mats in your search engine) these offer cooling as they are damp, but also by cooling any breeze that may blow over the dog. 
  • Dampen your dog down with tepid water 
    • Not cold or from an outside tap as too cold water could result in shock
    • Pat him dry & encourage into a shaded area, but do not force him to be in the garden, if it feels too hot, especially if it is humid as the additional moisture in the air makes it difficult for them to cool by panting.
  • Allow your dog to paddle or swim in a suitable area & always under supervision.
  • Keep an eye on your dog in the warmer weather, to ensure that he is coping.
  • DO NOT walk your dog in the middle of the day, take him early in the morning or later in the evening when the air is cooler. 
    • Choose shady & cool places to go for walks.
    • Manage your dog’s activity by keeping it on a lead, this will stop him from running around all over the place & over-exerting himself.
  • DO NOT let your dog walk on hot pavements, this can cause burns on his paws.
    • Keep your dog on grassy areas.
    • Place the back of your hand on the pavement, if you cannot hold it there for longer than 15 secs then the pavement is too hot for your dogs paws, so do not allow him on it.
  • NEVER leave your dog in a parked car on a hot day, even in the shade. Temperatures will rise very quickly inside the car, leading to heat stroke, dehydration & even death.
    • Whilst travelling in the car, keep the aircon running to provide a stable temperature. If you do not have aircon keep the windows open to allow air to move around the car.
    • Take water on the journey.
    • Try to block the dog from sitting in direct sunlight.
    • Leave your dog at home if the temperatures are really extreme, this will be much safer for him.   

Cooling a Overheated Dog

  • Try to take his temperature, if above 39.5°C, call the vet & start the following processes to bring his temperature down
    • Move him to a cool, shaded spot, preferably in a breeze or in front of a fan.
    • Give him fresh water.
    • Wet / Mist him down with water (not freezing cold water as this may lead to shock), ensuring that the water gets between his legs, on his tummy, under his tail & on his feet & allow him to dry naturally.
    • Once his temperature is below 39.5°C, get him to the vet.

Sources: Sarah Law Wikihow Pet Rebellion