As we welcome the warmer weather let’s take a look at how our canines can stay cool. Our dogs regular body temperature is a little warmer than our own and with that all round fur coat (for most breeds) they do sometimes struggle a little on the warmer days.
Your dog will have their own personal factors to consider, dependent upon the size and breed. Usually the larger the dog, the more at risk they are in the heat. However, there are many variants that will affect your dogs heat stroke risk as certain brachycephalic breeds will struggle more and if the dog is obese. Likewise, if they are less than 6 months old or elderly, they will struggle more in the heat.
Due to difficulty breathing, restrictions of the flow of air through the nostrils and internal nose structures, brachycephalic dogs can find it challenging to cool down as the nose is the main areas in a dog’s body where heat exchange occurs. This puts them a high risk of overheating in warm weathers. Overheating can be life threatening and dogs may seizure, collapse, become unconscious and in some cases, may sadly die.
This chart is a good reference guide to start with but please also take note of your dog in the moment.
Other factors can bring the risk down slightly such as them being in a cool and shaded area and if they have access to cool water. They need to have access to clean drinking water and it is also recommended that they have access to a paddling pool or hose pipe to allow their body to be in water to keep them cool.
If your dog has overheated and is struggling, please DO NOT pour cold water over their backs as this can send them into shock which could kill them in some cases. Also, water being poured over their backs means that the heat bounces off their back which evaporated the water heating the dog up more than if they were dry.
Instead, you need to dip their paws in water and put some water around the tummy and groin area. Water can be put around the collar area or even better if you have a bandanna which can be soaked in water and put around the dog’s neck to keep them cool.
How To Keep Dogs Cool
Keep your dogs in the shade if they are outside and preferably keep them cool inside. Do not walk them in the heat. A dog can die from a walk in the heat, but they wont die from missing a days walk. If you can, walk early in the morning before they days heat takes hold.
Also, a good test is to put your hand flat on the tarmac and if it is hot then don’t walk at that time. Your dog has 4 paws on that and it’s through their paws they loose most of their heat. Sandy beaches are another surface that are often too hot for paws.
Cooling mats and coats can be purchased to help keep your dogs cool when it becomes hot. There are many different brands and types out there which we recommend your shop around. We love the Easidry Cooling Coat, its not the cheapest on the market but definitely does the job. They make cooling coats and drying towels. These drying towels absorb up water and mud better than any towel and were first used in groomers. They can be put down and used as a cooling mat or they can be placed in the back of the car for the dog to sit on which stops the car getting dirty. They also sell a cooling coat which has a strap that goes around their chest and one that goes around their stomach. This allows the coat to stay on.
Both the cooling coat and drying mat are great as they all you need to do is dip them in water and they stay cool for about 4 hours. When they start to get a bit warm, all you do is just soak it again. There is no fridge required, just water. When it isn’t in use, it will dry up so ensure you do not open it up as it will crack it due to it being shammy leather type material. Instead, soak it in a bowl of water for about 5 minutes then you can open it up. If looked after, they will last years and are a really good piece of equipment to have, especially if you have a dog that struggles with heat.
NEVER LEAVE DOGS IN HOT CARS
Yes I wrote that in shouty letters! It’s so important that dogs are never left alone in a hot car, they can quickly become overheated and heat exhaustion can very rapidly be fatal.
Signs of Heat Exhaustion
If you are even the slightest bit worried about heat exhaustion please call your vet. It’s never too early to call but it can be too late.
- Heavy panting
- Glazed eyes
- Increased pulse
- Excessive thirst
- Dark red tongue
- Excessive drooling
- Elevated body temperature