A dog seeks cool air

Keep your cool - pets in summer

Hydration is key!
Here are some top tips on how to ensure your pet keeps their cool when the temperatures soar...
I'm sure we're all enjoying the longed for arrival of the British summer?! However, bear in mind that while many of us enjoy soaking up the sun and heat, our dogs can find it all a little bit too much.
You may not know this, but dogs regulate their temperature very differently to us humans - they have very few sweat glands which are predominantly located in their paws, and which have little to no impact on cooling your pet down. In fact their means of doing so are limited, the most efficient processes being conduction (contact with a cool surface - the converse of how they love sources of warmth in cold weather) or convection (the transfer of heat energy from one molecule to another) via the skin. In very warm/hot weather, and for those with dense coats this can be challenging leaving the only route to cool down as panting, in which the evaporation of moisture throughout their respiratory tract uses heat as the energy source thus extracting heat from their core temperature.
So, how best to enjoy summer whilst keeping your pet safe from heatstroke*, which can kill dogs if their body temperature rises beyond 41.5C? There are many aspects which are common sense - such as limiting exertion (shorten walks, reduce games of fetch/chase, take breaks during walks in shaded areas), exercising during cooler periods early and late in the day, avoiding hot cars. Let's just repeat that - as it can't be emphasised enough - avoid hot cars. The photo above shows a dog enjoying a breeze on a farm track, but in many situations it's unsafe to let dogs stick their head out of a window, so if you must travel in hot weather use the A/C and again, plan for breaks to provide cool water and stretching legs out of the sun. Many dogs love to swim - just make sure they're not likely to get into difficulties with strong currents or tides (please check if you're at a new beach/river) and also how they can get in and out of the water. At home, or if like us at work, provide plenty of fresh cool water and keep bowls topped up.
Dogs having fun in the river
A special treat for a dog is a humble ice cube! If you haven't tried it - watch them try to figure out whether to suck on it or crunch away... If you want to add a little something you can dissolve some food in water and freeze for a meatier treat, or freeze the water in which you've boiled some chicken for an occasional tasty topper on their dry food.
*If you notice prolonged excessive panting/heavy breathing, bright pink to red lips/gums and/or signs of weakness/sluggishness in your dog during hot weather this could be an indicator of heatstroke. This condition is potentially very serious as once it begins a cascade of inflammation can worsen the process - contact your vet or their out of hours service immediately for advice, and potentially to have your dog examined.
As in most things in life - moderation is key, don't let your dog overdo it (working breeds such as spaniels can be their own worst enemies in this as they just want to keep going) and take care over how and when you let them enjoy the sun - pale coated breeds and those with lots of exposed skin should have child-friendly suncream applied to ears, noses and other exposed areas. If they are older their tolerance is lower, likewise the brachycephalic (large/flat headed) breeds such as Frenchies, and if your dog is overweight or obese this is another risk factor (as it is for many things - another blog on this to come later).
Hydration is key!

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