As dog owners, we will do whatever we can to ensure our dogs are fit, healthy and safe. However, when the weather changes, there is an extra element owners must consider when looking after their dog’s health, extreme heat.

Here are the main things you can do to help your dog regulate their body temperature and keep them cool when temperatures soar.

Never leave them in a car

You should never leave your car, even if it is parked in a shaded area with windows slightly open. Cars can become unbearably hot during warm weather, which can lead your dog to feel extremely uncomfortable, distressed and could even cause extreme heatstroke that can be fatal. Remember, if the outside temperature is around 22 degrees outside, a car can easily reach around 47 degrees within an hour of sun exposure.

Dogs regulate their body heat by panting. The hotter it is, the more a dog will pant, but any immediate relief gained from this comes at the cost of body fluid and can ultimately cause dehydration. Left in a hot car, even if it is just for a few minutes, could cause your dog to develop symptoms of non-fever hyperthermia, also known as heat stroke.

Take water out with you

If you are out and about with your dog during a heatwave, make sure you take plenty of water and a bowl. There are a range of nifty gadgets on the market that make carrying water for your dog a lot easier, such as water bottles with bowl-like attachments, which allows you to easily offer you dog a drink at regular points in the walk.

Walk them at cooler times of the day

It is extremely important to make sure that you walk your dog at the most coolest points of the day as it will be far more comfortable for them. You should especially avoid midday, as this is when the sun is at its highest, therefore the temperature is likely to be at its hottest for the day. Instead, aim to take your K9 companion out early in the morning or later on in the evening.

If it is an extremely hot day, you may want to keep an eye on how much exercise they are having, as they are more likely to become fatigued in hot weather, therefore their regular routine may be too much for them.

Find fun ways to cool them down

Unfortunately, our pampered pooches do not really understand that during hot weather they should stay calm to avoid getting too hot. This means, as owners, we must take responsibility and find fun ways to keep them entertained whilst keeping them cool. A great idea is to use their favourite toys or treats and bring them into a shaded area to encourage them to play there. Another thing you could do is use a paddling pool that is shallow enough for them to lie down in so they can take a dip if they get too hot. You could also try freezing their favourite treats. Any games you play with you dog should avoid them running around for long periods of time. For example, using toys such as food puzzles can help your dog remain stimulated without too much physical exertion.

Look out for signs of heatstroke

If you have done everything you can to keep your dog cool, then the chances are you will not have to worry about them getting heatstroke, however it can still happen, especially if it is an extremely hot day. You should keep an eye out for any signs of heatstroke during a heatwave, and if you have concerns, you should contact your vet as soon as possible. If you do spot signs of heatstroke, you should take them to a cool, shaded area and apply cold soaked towels on their head, neck and chest and follow any instructions from your vet. You must never submerge them in ice cold water as this could cause them to go into shock.

The signs of heatstroke in dogs includes:

Glazed eyes

A rapid pulse

Heaving panting

Excessive salivation

Vomiting and diarrhoea

Loss of consciousness

Other things to consider

A few other things to consider doing in the summertime is to ensure your dog is regularly groomed or clipped, as keeping their coat clean and knot-free is vital in stopping matting, which can trap heat.

You should also consider how hot surfaces, such as pavements and sand, are before allowing your dog to walk on them. Hot surfaces can be painful for your dog to walk on, and could even cause blisters on your dog’s foot pads. If the surface is too hot for your bare feet, then your dog will probably be thinking the same.

There is plenty you can do as a dog owner to keep your pet as cool as possible during a heatwave. As a responsible owner, you should always be aware of the best things you can do to ensure your beloved pooch is protected, not matter how hot it gets outside.

Luke Chapman is Managing Director of Vale Pet Foods.

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