How to Look After Your Dog in Hot Weather Conditions
Dogs are a beloved member of many families, and it’s our responsibility as pet owners to provide them with the best care possible. One of the most important things to consider when caring for your dog is how to protect them during hot weather conditions. Just like humans, dogs are vulnerable to the effects of heat and can suffer from heatstroke, dehydration, and other heat-related illnesses. In recent years the UK and other countries have experienced record breaking heat waves.
Dog walking in Worthing during the day was dangerous during these conditions, therefore it’s important to take proactive steps to ensure your dog is comfortable and healthy during the summer months. Here are some tips on how to look after your dog and care for them in hot weather conditions.
1. Keep them hydrated
Dehydration is a common problem for dogs during hot weather conditions. Ensure your dog always has access to clean, fresh water. Change their water bowl frequently throughout the day to prevent it from becoming warm or stagnant. You may want to consider investing in a pet water fountain that provides a constant flow of fresh water to encourage your dog to drink more. It’s also a good idea to carry a water bottle and a portable bowl with you when you take your dog for walks or outings.
2. Keep them cool
Dogs can easily become overheated in hot weather conditions, which can lead to heat exhaustion or heatstroke. Ensure your dog has access to cool and shaded areas, particularly during the hottest parts of the day. If you have air conditioning in your home, keep the temperature cool for your dog. Provide a fan or air conditioning if possible, and consider using cooling mats or vests to help regulate your dog’s body temperature. You can also freeze a damp towel and place it in your dog’s bed to provide extra relief from the heat.
3. Avoid hot surfaces
Hot pavements and roads can burn your dog’s paws and cause discomfort. Try to avoid walking your dog on hot surfaces during the hottest parts of the day. Opt for walking your dog during cooler times of the day, such as early morning or late evening. If you must walk your dog during the day, consider using protective boots to prevent burns and discomfort. You can also test the pavement temperature by placing the back of your hand on the pavement for a few seconds. If it’s too hot for your hand, it’s too hot for your dog’s paws.
4. Never leave them in a parked car
Never leave your dog in a parked car, even if you only plan to be gone for a short amount of time. The temperature inside a parked car can quickly rise, even with the windows cracked, and can lead to heatstroke or even death. If you need to run errands or go somewhere that doesn’t allow pets, leave your dog at home in a cool and shaded area.
5. Watch for signs of heatstroke
Heatstroke is a serious condition that can be fatal if left untreated. Watch for signs of heatstroke, such as excessive panting, lethargy, vomiting, and diarrhoea. If you suspect your dog has heatstroke, move them to a cool and shaded area immediately and provide them with cool water to drink. Wet your dog down with cool water, but not cold water, and call your veterinarian right away. Your vet may recommend further treatment, such as intravenous fluids, to prevent complications.
6. Groom regularly
Regular grooming can help keep your dog cool and comfortable during hot weather conditions. Brush your dog’s coat regularly to remove excess hair and prevent matting. Consider trimming your dog’s coat if it’s particularly thick or long. Be careful not to shave your dog’s coat too short, as it provides insulation and protection from the sun. Consult with your vet or a professional groomer to determine the best grooming regimen for your dog.
7. Provide shade
If your dog spends a lot of time outdoors, it’s important to provide them with access to shade. Whether it’s a covered porch, a shaded area in your backyard, or a canopy, your dog needs a cool and shaded place to relax during hot weather conditions. If you don’t have access to shade in your backyard, consider investing in a portable canopy or tent that you can set up for your dog. Be sure to place their water bowl and cooling mat in the shaded area as well.
8. Adjust exercise routines
During hot weather conditions, it’s important to adjust your dog’s exercise routine. Avoid exercising your dog during the hottest parts of the day, and opt for early morning or late evening walks instead. Shorten your walks or playtime sessions, and monitor your dog closely for signs of overheating. Consider taking your dog for a swim instead of a walk, as swimming is a great low-impact exercise that can help keep your dog cool.
9. Use sunscreen
Just like humans, dogs can get sunburned, particularly on their nose, ears, and other areas with thin or light-coloured fur. Consider using a pet-specific sunscreen on your dog to protect their skin from the sun’s harmful rays. Apply the sunscreen to areas that are exposed to the sun, such as their nose, ears, and belly. Avoid using sunscreen that contains zinc oxide, as it can be toxic to dogs if ingested.
10. Provide a balanced diet
A balanced diet is essential for your dog’s overall health, particularly during hot weather conditions. Ensure your dog’s diet is rich in nutrients and includes plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. Avoid giving your dog hot or heavy meals, as it can make them feel sluggish and uncomfortable. Instead, opt for smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day. You can also freeze some fruits and vegetables, such as berries and carrots, to provide your dog with a cool and refreshing treat.
11. Be cautious near water
While many dogs love to swim, it’s important to be cautious near water during hot weather conditions. Ensure your dog is always supervised around water, and consider using a life jacket if your dog is not a strong swimmer. Be cautious of the temperature of the water, as it can become too warm and lead to dehydration. Provide your dog with access to fresh water after they swim, and towel them off to prevent them from getting chilled.
12. Plan for travel
If you plan to travel with your dog during hot weather conditions, it’s important to plan ahead. Ensure your car has air conditioning or ventilation, and provide your dog with access to fresh water during the journey. Plan frequent stops to allow your dog to stretch their legs and cool off in the shade. If you’re travelling by plane, check with your airline about their pet policies and guidelines for travelling during hot weather conditions.
In conclusion, caring for your dog during hot weather conditions requires some extra effort and attention, but it’s well worth it to ensure your furry friend stays healthy and happy. Keep them hydrated, cool, and comfortable, watch for signs of heatstroke, and adjust their exercise routine accordingly. By following these simple guidelines, you can help your dog enjoy the summer months safely and comfortably.