Temperatures in the UK have jumped considerably in the last few days. Up here in Cumbria it’s about 25°C and rising. And further south, it’s already more than 30°C. So, there’s no doubt we’re all starting to feel the heat. But if you can feel it, so can your dog. Which is why I’m writing this post today, as it’s really important that you know how to look after your dog during a heatwave.
Dogs and the heat
Firstly, lets take a moment to discuss dogs and heat. Because it’s very easy to overlook the effect that heat and high temperatures have on a dog. Especially if you’re a sun lover. You may enjoy soaking up the rays and indeed your dog may enjoy snoozing in the sun too. But what you can tolerate or consider nice and warm, isn’t the same for a dog.
Not only is your dog wearing a fur coat, but their body doesn’t manage heat in the same way as a human. And certain dog breeds may struggle more than others. So, you may find that flat-nosed breeds such as British and French bulldogs are more susceptible. But surprisingly, other breeds including greyhounds, springer spaniels and golden retrievers suffer quickly too. Plus, older dogs and those with health conditions are likely to struggle a lot more. However, all dogs are going to struggle in the heat over the next few days.
We have a beagle and we know that she struggles as soon as temperatures hit 16°C, especially if the sun is shining high in the sky. This might surprise you, as it’s not that hot. But that’s the point where she starts to overheat and starts panting a lot. Leave it any longer and we know she’ll quickly start foaming around the nose and mouth, even with regular drinks of water. This is a sure sign she’s too hot. You may be unfamiliar with the signs to look out for. So, lets take a look at the signs your dog may be too hot or has heatstroke.
Signs your dog may have heatstroke
There are physical signs that your dog is overheating, right from the start. And you do need to know what to look for, so you can act quickly and avoid an emergency trip to the vets.
Mild symptoms include panting and fast, irregular or difficult breathing. And in some cases your dog may seem a bit lethargic or low on energy.
Symptoms including drooling, foaming at the mouth, vomiting and diarrhoea, are a more serious sign that your dog has heatstroke. You may notice shaking and weakness, and your dog’s gums could be bright red or very pale.
And the most serious symptoms of confusion, seizures, blood in vomit or diarrhoea, and unconsciousness, will require immediate treatment from your vet. So, it’s important not to let your dog suffer or get to this stage.
Mistakes to avoid during a heatwave
Heatstroke in dogs can be incredibly serious and is life-threatening. But for many of you, this is the first heatwave you’ve had to deal with as a dog owner. So, it’s easy to get it wrong.
The first mistake that it’s easy to make is walking your dog at the wrong time of the day. You might think that simply avoiding the peak of the temperatures between 12 noon and 3pm is enough. But during hot weather like this, you really need to be walking your dog much, much earlier. Before the sun creeps over the tree line and there’s still a chance to keep cool. This is why experienced owners are walking their dogs in the early hours between 4am and 7am in the morning. Or leaving it until the sun’s gone down again and the temperature has dropped.
But even then, it’s not guaranteed to be cool enough. So, if you think it’s too hot, don’t feel bad about not walking your dog at all. We’re so used to daily walks, it sometimes feels wrong not to go out. But you can do other things such as play games in a cool room or teach your dog tricks to keep them stimulated.
Keeping water bowls topped up is a given. But do check that your dog is drinking regularly. If you don’t think they are, try encouraging them by dropping treats into the water bowl.
Avoid letting your dog drink salty sea water. This will only make your dog feel sick. If you’re beach walking, take fresh water with you for them to drink.
Keep an eye on temperatures in the garden and house. As the temperature slowly rises during the day, it’s easy to overlook how hot it’s getting. And even if your dog isn’t exercising, they could still be getting too hot.
Ways to keep your dog cool in high temperatures
How do you keep your dog cool in these high temperatures? It’s not always easy, but thankfully there are lots of different ways to do it. So, you should be able to find one that works for you and your pooch.
We’ve got a good bunch of ideas in our post on keeping your dog cool in hot weather. But, here’s a few more tips to try:
- If you have a long-haired breed, keep their coats clipped. That way they’re not carrying around a heavy coat.
- Avoid car travel. Even if you have your air-con running, it’s likely your car is already too hot.
- Fill a Kong with meat and pop it in the freezer. So, they’ve got a meaty ice-pop to enjoy and it’ll keep them busy while it’s hot too.
- Move their bed to the coolest room in the house. Help that room stay cool by closing the curtains or blinds when the sun’s shining. And if necessary, cool a room down by using a fan with a tray of ice placed in front of it.