The weather is set to be pretty warm this week, and it is supposed to be a pretty warm Summer in general, which is good news, we all like a warm dry Summer, don't we? Well most of us humans will do, but spare a thought for our dogs, it's probably the case that they don't actually like the warm weather, so what can we do to make sure they enjoy the Summer without feeling the heat?
There are some obvious tips, and there are some less obvious, so where do we start, well, the daily walk. I'm sure most of us take the dogs out at least once a day, maybe more. There is no reason why that can't still be done in the Summer, but a bit of heat management is required. Taking your dog out at cooler times of day really helps there, it's probably a little difficult to do it before or after Sunrise as that's pretty early and pretty late, but the ambient temperature will be lower earlier and later in the day. Something to bear in mind on those daily walks are the pavement temperatures if you are walking on them, if you can't hold the back of your hand on the pavement for more than 5 seconds it is too hot for your dogs paws. It probably is best to avoid walking on hot asphalt if at all possible.
Obviously it is absolutely great if you can walk your dogs on grass from your home, without having to drive anywhere, but if you need to drive there are some things to remember. Don't leave your dog in the car, just a few minutes, even with windows open can have a devastating effect on a dog, especially young and old, or breeds that have breathing difficulties, like bull breeds.
Things to help cool your dog on their walk, well there are a great selection of cooling products these days, from cooling bandanas to cooling coats, and as long as you follow the instructions, they are a great way of keeping your dog cool for the duration of a walk. We have done some thorough testing on some of the cool coats and they really do work, but not for as long as the manufacturer states and it is all dependent on the dog and their activity levels, however, there is a golden rule, if their cool coat has dry patches it needs re-wetting or it is acting as a coat and is heating your dog as opposed to cooling it. Carry some water in a bottle and re-wet the cooling coat as necessary.
I know there is a lot of advice out there about making sure your dog has plenty of water available, both at home and on their walk, and I'm not going to dismiss that, however. We are very careful about when Luca has water, as a large chested big breed of dog he is prone to bloat, he has had it on 2 occasions, luckily without torsion, but for those that don't know much about bloat, it is extremely dangerous and can lead to death very quickly, if your dog gets bloat they need to see a vet with a surgery within an hour and preferably quicker, because if the stomach goes into torsion they will need emergency surgery. The causes of bloat are not exactly known, and it's a subject we will cover another day, but preventing your dog from eating or drinking an hour either side of exercise is prudent, so that is what we do. So with that in mind we have something else to consider when walking during the Summer, do we need to do it, especially if it is a health risk?
The simple answer is no, we don't, and many of you will be saying, 'oh but Spot needs his daily walk, he will go stir crazy if he doesn't get it'. Dogs need exercise, without a doubt, our Bulldog Spike lived to over 13yrs old and I believe that was partly down to very regular exercise. But does a dog need it every day, no, they don't, if the weather is too hot to walk them, don't take them. It isn't very often we have a really long spell of hot weather in the UK, a few days at the most. So why not have a break from the walks and just stimulate your dog at home instead? Brain games are great at stimulating a dog, exercise for the brain may not have the keeping fit aspect of a walk, but it will take your dogs mind off missing a walk and they will be stimulated and enjoy it. Just going back to basic training exercises will keep your dog stimulated, especially if a few treats are used. Just playing indoors with your dog, a few tug games or using one of our Snuffles Ball to keep your dog occupied and treated is a great alternative, especially if it is just for a couple of days.
Dogs can still get pretty hot in the house, even without exercise, but there are also ways to keep them cool there too. Cooling pads are excellent, Spike loved his, and both Cocoa and Luca will lay on theirs if they are hot. We have a little paddling pool, they really love that, it will fit in even the smallest garden and it is just brilliant at keeping them cool.
Another great cooling idea is ice cubes, not if your dog is suffering from heatstroke though, that would cause stomach cramps, but as long as their body temperature is normal but it's a warm day and they want something refreshing, an ice cube or frozen lolly (made from fruit) is a great treat. Spike also used to love ice cubes.
So I hope this little blog post helps with some advice about keeping your dog cool during the Summer, if you need any help with our products just drop us a line or call us, we are more than happy to help....Keep Cool!