During warmer weather you should be aware of the risk that overheating poses to your dogs health and well being. Our recent article Overheating & Heat Stroke in Dogs provides information on how to recognise and treat overheating; this time were are going to offer a few ideas for keeping your dog cool in the summer.
The following suggestions are all preventative measures for overheating and will help your pet to dissipate some of their core body temperature through conduction (passing his body heat directly to a conductive material) and convection (transferring his body heat to the air through evaporation) or a mixture of the two. These suggestions can be used in addition to always providing your dog with plenty of cool, fresh drinking water and the availability of shade and ventilation.
In warm weather we all reach to the fridge for a cooling drink or snack, why not do the same for your dog. A slice of cool melon, a chilled carrot, some natural yoghurt; anything that is dog safe and will help keep him cool too.
The freezer is also a source of cooling treats. Most dogs will enjoy a chew on an ice cube or frozen vegetable sticks. There are pet safe ice creams and frozen yoghurts available from many pet stores that your dog will love. Alternatively, buy and freeze some pouches of baby food (checking the ingredients for items that a poisonous to dogs), snip across the top of the pouch and then slide out the tasty, cold treat for your dog to enjoy.
Make an Ice Treat
Use an ice cube, cupcake or muffin tray to make some individual ice treats made from a watery chicken broth, fish stock or gravy. You could also use some of your dogs favourite treats by freezing chunks of cheese or cooked meat in water.
There are plenty of frozen toys with a sponge centre that you soak and freeze available from pet stores. The idea is that your dog will chew, lick and shake them thus releasing cool water and cooling their mouth. If you decide to buy one of these items, please check its durability and suitability for your breed.
You can use existing treat toys such as a frozen Kong stuffed with fruit; alternatively you can make your own frozen toy by soaking a tea towel in water, place treats randomly across it (hotdog slices and cheese work well), roll it up, scrunch it, then pop it in the freezer for a couple of hours until partially frozen.
When giving your dog any kind of frozen or chilled toy, alway monitor the condition of the toy and remove from the dog if parts become damaged or loose.
Perfect for summer walks, in the garden or at the beach or park, cooler coats are fitted dog jackets created from absorbent material that you can soak with water. The water held in the material slowly evaporates, drawing heat away from your dog’s body and reducing their temperature.
If your dog is overheating you can create the same effect by getting him to shade and placing a cool, wet towel over his body. You can aid the evaporation process by creating a breeze using fans.
Cooling Collars and Bandanas
Working on the same principle as (although less effective than) cooler coats, cooling collars and bandanas hold water by your dogs skin, thus allowing the heat to transfer through evaporation.
Some collars contain pouches that store ice or gel packs which will aid cooling. Ice shouldn’t be used in cases of overheating as this may cause blood vessels near the surface of the body to constrict and may decrease heat transfer.
Again, you can create the effect of a cooling collar/bandana by creating your own from a tea towel, soaked in water and tied loosely around your dogs neck.
Cooling mats fall into 2 categories, wet and dry. They are great for the home, garden or in the back of a car.
Wet mats are made from a highly absorbent material, usually backed with a waterproof material. The user activates the mat by soaking the mat. As your dog lies on the mat, heat is transferred to the mat and dissipated through evaporation.
Dry mats are usually gel filled and require no activation. As your dog lies on the mat, heat is transferred and dissipated to cooler regions of the mat. These mats can be folded and chilled in the fridge for extra effectiveness.
Yet again, the effect of a cooling mat can be replicated using a towel soaked in cool water.
Paddling Pool / Hose Play
You may have noticed a theme in some of these ideas/products; cool water helps to keep a dog cool. All dog owners know that a dogs coat can take ages to dry so let’s get old school and get the hose out, fill the paddling pool and have some fun.
By soaking your dogs coat, his body heat will transfer to the water and evaporate. Keep soaking him and he’ll stay cool. If you are out and about, let him swim or pour water on him and rub it down to the skin.
Fans, Air Conditioning & Dehumidifiers
Heat transfers to the air very slowly, if that air is moving heat can transfer much quicker (think how the slightest draught can give you a chill). By fanning your dog or providing an electric fan this heat transfer is accelerated. A wet dog that is fanned will cool much quicker than a dry dog in still air.
If you have air con in the home or car, turn it on to help keep your dog cool on warm days. The cool, moving air will transfer heat from his body; whilst the reduced humidity will allow water to evaporate from his mouth and tongue more easily thus dissipating heat more easily.
Humidifiers do not cool the air significantly, but the reduction in humidity will again aid evaporation and heat dissipation.
As your dog heats up he starts panting, evaporating water from his system. This evaporation takes heat away from his body, cooling him down. This water needs replenishing through drinking plenty of clean fresh water.
When you are out and about, particularly in the summer months, you should carry water for your dog and provide the opportunity to drink at regular intervals. You can either plan a walk around places where your dog can drink or carry a water supply with you.
Carry a lightweight flexible bowl and bottle of water that you can refill it water sources to ensure that you always have plenty of water available.
Wherever you go, your dog will follow. If you spend a sunny day in the garden, at the park or on the beach your dog will be right by your side. Without shade, your dog will overheat on a hot sunny day.
There are countless options for buying dog specific beds and shades, but a simple beach shelter will provide perfect shade. The beauty of these is that they can be relatively cheap and once erected can be turned as the sun crossed the sky to maximise the shade all day. They tend to have a floor that you can place a cooling mat in for maximum effectiveness.
If you don’t have a shelter, create some shade using 2 deck chairs and a towel, turn your windbreak into a tunnel tent or go home.
Enjoy the Summer
We hope you have enjoyed reading a few of our ideas for keeping your dog cool in summer. Please post any of your suggestions in the comments section below.
Enjoy your summer and stay cool.