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Keeping your dog cool in summer

Keeping your dog cool in summer

Many of us enjoy the warm weather of summer with our dogs but heat can easily become a hazard for a dog because dogs have few sweat glands and must pant to cool down.

Here are some tips for keeping your dog safe this summer:

When hiking with your dog, take lots of water for the both of you and check that the hike is not too strenuous for the dog. Every year, dogs succumb to heatstroke when out hiking with their humans.

Remember that sidewalks get hot and dogs are closer to the ground than we are and they can get much hotter than we do, so check that the pavement isn’t too hot. The pads of the dog’s feet can also burn and blister on hot pavement.

Jane’s dog Amber is shown wearing a cool-down vest and sitting on a cooling pad, two methods of cooling off an overheated dog. Jane Bowers photo

Monitor play closely in the heat. A young dog playing outside about mid-morning in England only survived heat stroke after intensive veterinary intervention. Never leave your dog in a vehicle in the heat.

Know the symptoms of heat stroke because heat stroke is always an emergency and requires immediate removal from the heat and immediate veterinary care. Symptoms include skin that is hot to the touch and increased panting and salivation. Often vomiting, diarrhea, loss of coordination, collapse, and unconsciousness follow.

To avoid heat stroke, only exercise dogs when or where it is cool. Dogs should always have access to shade and to drinking water and should not be confined to an asphalt or concrete surface.

Luckily there are lots of additional ways to help keep your dog cool. There are mats which, when filled with cold water, keep dogs cool when they lie on them. There are also specially made vests which keep dogs cool and these items are readily available at our local pet supply stores. Invest in some Kongs or other food dispensing items, fill them with beef broth or yoghurt or other tasty fillings and freeze them so your dog can enjoy them on a warm day. If your dog wears a muzzle, avoid using muzzles that inhibit the ability of the dog to pant. Basket muzzles that allow the dog to pant, drink, bark and take treats are the best.

Have fun with your dogs, but keep them safe.

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