The summer of 2018 has seen the UK hitting temperatures of over 30ºC for weeks on end. Yes, we know that the country always seems to go wild over a bit of hot weather, with everyone getting constant reminders to wear a hat and drink plenty of water - but we need to spare a thought for our canine companions as well.
Today we’ll be taking a look at keeping dogs cool in those scorching summer temperatures. We know, we know, they’re pretty cool anyway (especially if they have a Butternut bandana), but sometimes looking groovy just isn’t enough. From slapping on some doggy suncream to simply going for walks at the right times, there’s plenty you can do to make sure that your dog has a great summer and stays cool as a cucumber.
Know your dog
Whatever advice you hear or read when it comes to keeping dogs cool, the first step is to know your dog like you know yourself. When the sun starts shining, one of the first things to understand is how their breed does in the heat.
Believe it or not, your African basenji or Arabian saluki will almost certainly do better in a bit of sunshine than a husky or Alaskan Malamute. That may not be surprising, but it’s worth remembering that it’s not just where a breed comes from that decides whether they enjoy being a hot dog or not.
There are, of course, dogs that just don’t like hot weather simply because they’re not cut out for it. Those breeds are mainly the little pups with short, squashed faces: think pugs or bulldogs. To use the technical term, these brachycephalic breeds can find it difficult to stay cool when it gets warm; these little guys might have to take some extra precautions.
Fortunately, it rarely gets so hot in the UK that it’s dangerous to walk your dog, but if the mercury does get a little too high, you should avoid walking them in the middle of the day. Instead, take them out in the mornings and evenings so that they can spend the hottest part of the day doing what you wish you could do in this weather - just lazing around.
Knowing your dog and how they deal with the heat comes down to more than just learning breed facts. In warm weather, always remember that if you’re feeling hot your dog will be feeling even hotter! If it’s not comfortable for you, it’s certainly not comfortable for them.
If you start to notice excessive panting and heavy breathing, stumbling around and lots of drooling this is an indicator that your dog may be suffering from heatstroke. If you start seeing these signs, take your dog inside give them lots and lots of water and be sure to take them to a vet.
Bring supplies and take precautions
Everybody should be aware that you mustn’t leave your dog in a hot car on a sunny day - by now, that really goes without saying. There are adverts everywhere and a lot of advice constantly being pushed out that’s made many people aware that keeping a dog in a hot car is really quite terrible.
This is, of course, great news! Although, despite everyone knowing that hot cars are bad news, many people aren’t aware of the kinds of supplies that they should be making use of when going for a walk on a hot day.
It may sound silly, but for some pooches dog-friendly suncream is a must! Yep, despite being covered in fur, some dogs can still have trouble burning or even developing skin cancer. If you have a darker-skinned dog with thick fur that covers their whole body, you’re unlikely to need any extra SPF protection, but that doesn’t go for all breeds.
For dogs on the lighter side, or with thinner fur - crack open the suncream. These dogs can benefit hugely from the application of a little sun protection, especially around their muzzle, belly or chest where the fur might be thinning out. If your dog is shaved at all, then it’s especially important to apply some form of UV protection - you don’t want them getting burnt.
Water is always a doggy essential, but even more so when the sun comes out and we start to heat up. Around 48% of vets said that they treated dogs with heatstroke last summer, which is way too high when it’s so preventable! Making sure that your dog has plenty to drink is the best way to lower the risk of them facing any issues in the heat.
Consider bringing a collapsible bowl out on your walks, find a nice shady spot and let them drink up! They’ll be happy for a bit of a rest and a nice cool drink, but to give them a really luxurious rest and keep them out of the heat, consider bringing along a towel. No, we’re not going swimming, a damp towel in the shade on a hot summer day will be your dog’s favourite place to lie down and stretch out.
Make the decisions
Sometimes, you’ve really got to be in control.
We love our dogs, and despite their loyalty and smarts, they can certainly be a bit silly at times. Even when the sun is blazing and they’re not feeling great they’ll keep on playing until they physically can’t! If it’s too hot out, you’re the one who needs to decide when they’ve had enough.
We’ve already mentioned that it might be for the best to walk your dog in the morning or evening during the summer months, but even at those times, don’t stay out with them for too long and don’t let them be the one to decide when it’s hometime.
If you like to treat your dog walks as some serious exercise time, maybe working in some running or jogging, it may be best to skip that part in the height of the summer. Any extra exercise can have a negative effect on a lot of dogs in the summer and like we’ve said, they just won’t know when to stop.
Keeping your dogs cool and busy all summer long is certainly going to make them hungry, so why not make a change and try a Butternut meal? Click here to build your first box!