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.
Just like many of us, dogs love the spring. It signifies the return of evening walks, weekend outings and time in the garden with the family.
But, spring brings with it a host of issues that all dog owners should be aware of. At The Way of the Dog, our articles are focused on providing dog owners with information on how best to maintain the health and wellbeing of their canine friend. In this article we will cover a few of the considerations you should make for your dog this spring.
Spring is generally a good time for a dog in the home; the windows get opened, the fresh air blows through and the house gets a spring clean. The only thing to consider here is your use and storage of cleaning products. Try to use products that you know have no effect on your dog, store them safely and securely and monitor your dog for allergic reactions to any new products used in your home (see info on allergies below).
The same rules apply if you decide to decorate any part of your home. Always consider your dog; keep him/her safe from harm, keep them away from equipment and chemicals, and keep the house ventilated.
The greatest dangers we expose our pets to in the home environment in the spring are often associated with the garden. Tulips, hyacinths, daffodils, lilies and crocus are common spring plants but they are all poisonous or irritant to dogs. Many lawn care products and fertilisers are potentially fatal to our pets.
The database of plants, foods and household items and their toxicity at www.petpoisonhelpline.com can be used to assess the risks of these items in your home. It also informs you what to do in the event of ingestion.
Out and About
Spring signifies new life, new life that can be threatened by your dog’s proximity.
By law, you must control your dog so that it does not disturb or scare farm animals or wildlife. On most areas of open country and common land, known as ‘access land,’ you must keep your dog on a short lead between 1 March and 31 July and all year round near farm animals.
Take particular care that your dog doesn’t scare sheep and lambs or wander where it might disturb birds that nest on the ground and other wildlife – eggs and young will soon die without protection from their parents.
You do not have to put your dog on a lead on public paths as long as it is under close control. But as a general rule, keep your dog on a lead if you cannot rely on its obedience. If this is the case with your dog, please get in touch with us, our Dog Obedience Service can help you strengthen your dog control and recall.
Bugs, Beasties and Creepy Crawlies
Spring also sees the reemergence of all those bugs, beasties and creepy crawlies that disappear in the winter months.
- Fleas – Fleas become more prevalent as the spring weather begins to warm. They live off the blood of animals and are a nuisance to their hosts, causing an itching sensation which in turn may result in the host attempting to remove the pest by biting, pecking, scratching, etc. Flea bites generally cause the formation of a slightly raised, swollen itching spot with a single puncture point at the centre.
- Midges – Midges pose no real health risk to your dog other than irritation. The bites of a female midge have the same effect on your dog as it does to you. Midge bites generally cause the formation of a slightly raised, swollen itching spot with a single puncture point at the centre. Some dogs may have increased sensitivity to their bite and your vet can usually prescribe a anti-allergenic medicine.
- Mosquitos – As with midges, the UK mosquito poses only the risk of irritation to your dog. Mosquito bites generally cause the formation of a raised, swollen itching spot with a single puncture point at the centre. However, the European mosquito can carry heart worm. If travelling abroad you should speak to your vet about vaccination.
- Ticks – Ticks are parasites that feed on the blood of host animals for several days. They are particularly unpleasant beasties as they can carry and transit Lyme Disease to humans and pets. See our detailed article about your dog and ticks.
- Lungworm – Lungworm are a type of parasitic worm that can affect dogs living in the heart and blood vessels that supply the lungs. Your dog cannot become directly infected by lungworm, but can become a host by eating slugs and snails.
Infestation or pestering by any of these parasites can be prevented through the regular use of preventative medication. Your vet will be able to advise you on the type and dosage required to protect your dog. If infestation has already taken place, particularly with fleas, ticks or lungworms a trip to the vet is necessary.
Just like humans, dogs can suffer from seasonal allergies; but, unlike humans whose allergy symptoms usually involve the respiratory tract, allergies in dogs more often take the form of skin irritation or inflammation.
If your pet has allergies, it’s skin will become very itchy leading to scratching excessively, and/or biting or chewing at certain areas of the body. They may rub themselves against vertical surfaces like furniture, or may rub their face against the carpet. As the itch-scratch cycle continues, the skin will become inflamed and tender to the touch. Other signs of allergic dermatitis include areas of hair loss, open sores on the skin, and scabbing.
The best cure is to remove the allergen, soothe the symptoms and monitor your pet’s progress, but in many cases the allergen will be unknown. In this case you should consult your vet, who may recommend blood testing to find the cause and/or medication to soothe the symptoms
Some spring days can be sunny and warm, sometimes even hot. Therefore, it seems timely to remind you of the effects of this on your dog.
You dog struggles to regulate it’s own body temperature; it doesn’t sweat, it can’t take it’s coat off, it goes where you take it. It is your responsibility to ensure that it is safe from the dangers of overheating and to minimise it’s risks.
- Water – Your dog loses the majority of its heat through panting. It transfers body heat to moisture in the respiratory system which it breathes out thus expelling the heat. Using this method, your dog will become quickly dehydrated. Always make sure that your dog has plenty of fresh, clean water available.
- Exercise – Be careful not to over exercise your dog on a warm day as it will become at risk of overheating. If you keep throwing that ball, your dog will keep fetching it. Constantly monitor its breathing and look for signs of panting, then stop. Make sure that you have fresh, clean water available to offer your dog if you intend exercising them in warm weather.
- Hot Cars – We all know that dogs die in hot cars, but this applies to conservatories, tents and caravans too. The temperature inside your car can quickly become double the outside temperature once the sun comes out. Once that temperature rises to a point where your dog begins to overheat, it could be dead in a matter minutes. It is a painful, horrendous death. I will write a more detailed article on the speed at which this can happen in the lead up to summer.
- Grooming – All dogs will benefit from regular grooming to rid their coats of excessive insulation in the spring and summer, this also provides a great opportunity to check your dog for external parasites. Long haired dogs should have their coats cut frequently to help reduce the risks of overheating.
Enjoy the Spring
At The Way of the Dog, we advocate the daily exercising of your dog and spring often provides the perfect conditions for doing so. We hope that you will use the information presented in this article to make it a happier and healthy experience for your dog.
Contribution by Matthew@Heppiness
It is fair to say that not all dog owners are interested in training their dogs or in some cases they perhaps are interested but simply struggle to find the time. However you might be surprised to learn that teaching your dog a simple task, for a short period each day, can be hugely rewarding for both you and your dog. The task need not be complex it is the fact that you engage and interact with your dog that is the important factor. Taking time to train your dog has numerous benefits that can be incredibly stimulating and enjoyable for all involved.
What is the purpose of training a dog?
There are many purposes of course; however The Way of the Dog Ltd considers that the primary purpose is to maintain the health and safety of the dog whilst protecting the health and safety of others. This is something that all dog owners should carefully consider given the recent amendments to the Dangerous Dogs Act here in the UK. Training your dog is the responsible thing to do and can lead to the development of secure and confident foundations in your dog.
When it comes to choosing what to train your dog there is no definitive list, it really comes down to imagination, interest, personal choice, and access. There are so many interesting activities and events that you can involve your dog in these days that dog training has become accessible to all.
Training a dog even the simplest of tasks can have a variety of benefits, these include;
- Improving psychological and physiological wellbeing, contributing towards a healthy mind and body (both dog and owner).
- Optimising brain function.
- Increasing the strength of the bond and understanding between dog and owner.
- Establishing clear and positive communication.
- Raising self-esteem and confidence in the dog.
- Reducing stress and anxiety.
- Relieving boredom.
- Teaching new skills and improving the proficiency of existing skills.
- Giving a dog a role to perform providing an outlet for stored energy.
Your dog does not have to perform to any specific stereotype or even to a particular standard, all that matters is that the dog has the physical ability to perform the task and is willing to try. There is no sense in trying to teach a Chihuahua to scale a 6ft fence any more than attempting to run a marathon with a Dogue De Bordeaux. If you have any doubts, consult your vet. Always consider the functionality of your dog ensuring that it is physically capable of achieving the objective or task without coming to harm. History demonstrates that dogs were selectively bred to perform certain functions and that body conformation was modified accordingly.
A note of caution, careless designer breeding can affect a dog’s inherent ability to perform certain tasks. Notwithstanding, it is important that any training undertaken is fun and rewarding for the dog.
Owning an untrained and disobedient dog can be a very challenging ordeal and may lead to exclusion from every day activities often taken for granted such as walking a dog in a country park or having guests visit the family home. Owning a trained dog can be a thoroughly rewarding relationship and enriching experience that forges strong human dog bonds allowing dog owners to successfully engage in a range of activities. If you are interested in training your dog and would like to discuss options please contact The Way of the Dog Ltd.