Summer is here! It’s paws-down the best time of year to be outside enjoying some quality time with our loyal companions, swimming, hiking, picnicking, and catching some rays.
That said, we all the know the uncomfortable feeling of being too warm. Yuck! The same uncomfortable feeling can happen to our dogs, too. As pet parents, it’s important to know the signs of dehydration or heat exhaustion through these summer months so we can keep our fur-babies safe.
Check out our top 5 tips to keeping your dog safe in the summer heat:
1. WATER: Whenever you stop to rest make sure your dog has lots of fresh water, or even a cool, wet towel to relax on. A wet towel on their belly and pads can help to regulate body temperature, too. When helping a dog cool down try to wet the areas with the least amount of fur – armpits, belly, paw pads and between the hind legs. You can also wrap a cloth around their neck or invest in a cooling band for them to wear when playing in areas without swimming water.***If your dog is bordering on heat stroke, don’t throw them into cold water. Changing their temperature too abruptly may result in further heating of their internal organs and worsening the overheating of the body’s core. Instead, get their pads in cool water and splash water on their bellies. Let your dog cool down slowly and allow them to drink water at a moderate pace. Chugging water will result in them throwing it back up and being more dehydrated than before.
2. FROZEN TREATS: If you bring along frozen treats, your dog can have a refreshing snack and you can help regulate their core temperature. Freeze their water bowl and top it up so the water is always ice cold. Ice cubes are a great way to keep your pup hydrated and it’s also a fun crunchy treat.
You can also offer your pup flavoured ice cubes: Tom&Sawyer has two healthy bone broths that can be divided into ice cube trays or made into pupsicles for a frosty treat. Our bone broths are full of moisture and high in flavour, and your pampered pup will be requesting them on every outing.
*NOTE: Crushing up the ice cubes can reduce the risk of a tooth breakage!
3. CHECK FOR SIGNS OF DEHYDRATION: Dogs don’t sweat like we do, but they have many other ways to tell us they are in need of water. Some signs of dehydration in dogs include vomiting, lethargy, a dry nose, excessive panting and sunken eyes. Here are three tests you can do to check your dog for dehydration:
- The Elasticity Check – Pinch the excess skin on the back of your dog’s neck and pull upward, and see how long it takes to bounce back. If the skin stays raised and bunched then slowly drops back down, find a shady spot where your pup can lie down and get some water. If the fur bounces right back your dog is well hydrated! When a dog is dehydrated and in need of moisture their skin takes longer to bounce back.
- The Gum Check – Push on your dog’s gums and then release. His gums should start out white but colour should immediately rush back into the gums. If the gums remain white or colour returns slowly, it means your dog is in need of water. Note: This method may not be easy for every owner if your dog is sensitive to being touched inside his mouth.
- Irregular Behaviour – If your dog seems anxious, is panting more/faster than normal, or seems dizzy or disoriented, immediately get him to the shade and apply water to the hairless areas to cool him down. Sometimes your pup will not want to drink water if extremely dehydrated, so do what you can to encourage them to drink. Try splashing water on their tongue or break out a frozen snack or ice cubes to entice them.
4. SHADE, TIMING & MORE WATER: Try to be in the shade as much as possible and if you can head to an area with water for playtime, even better! A beach, lake or a dog park with small cooling pools are the best places for them to play. You can also bring your own collapsable pool and fill it up using the drinking fountains in the park, or set one up in your backyard. Bring a spray bottle on your walks and mist your dog’s cool down zones frequently. Time your play sessions and walks accordingly so you are not out with your dog at the hottest points of the day.
5. DO NOT SHAVE: People often think shaving their dog will help to keep them cool. This is a common misconception. A dog’s coat actually helps to keep them cool, regulates their body temperature and protects them from a sunburn. If your dog has an undercoat you can give him a brush out to help get rid of the winter fur, but never shave the top coat. People also have an urge to soak their dog in water when they really need to cool them down. But, if your dog has a very thick coat it can actually weigh their fur down, allowing less air to circulate, making it much harder for their body temperature to regulate. When cooling your pup down it’s best to lightly mist their pits and belly and soak their pads instead.
As you can see, water, when used appropriately, is a dog’s best friend in the summer heat. These 5 tips will help you and your dog enjoy those amazing summer moments in the safest ways possible. And, the more you know the safer your pup can be. Remember that dogs don’t always know how to self regulate or when to take breaks, especially when having the time of their lives. We need to monitor our fur-babies closely this time of year so we all get to have some fun in the sun.