While we're all enjoying this beautiul weather, unfortunately unless we're careful it can be potentially lethal for our dogs.
As they're not able to regulate their body temperature the same way that we do they easily over heat, leading to heat stroke which can quickly become life threateneing. The signs of heatstroke include:
- Increased panting
- Bright red tongue
- Bright red of pale gums
- Increased salivation
- Increased heart rate
- Breathing difficulties
- Vomiting and diarrhoea
If you notice any signs of heat stroke in your dog it's important you contact your vet immediately for advice - acting quickly is crucial to give your dog the best possible chance of recovery.
One of the best ways to help prevent our dogs over heating is to not walk or exercise them during the day, perhaps walking first thing in the morning, or in the evening instead when it's a more suitable temperature. While we don't want to be walking or giving any strenuous exercise during the day, there are still lots of things we can do to keep them entertained while staying cool.
Food activiites such as Kongs and Lickimats are ideal to pop in the freezer before giving to your dog. This creates something that's going to keep your dog cool but is also going to keep them occupied while they work to get the food out.
Alongside your dogs normal food you can add in some tasty treats such as peanut butter, mashed up banana, or other dog friendly fruits and vegetables. If you don't have a Kong / Lickimat you can try using an apple instead - simply core the apple, stuff the hole in the middle with your dogs food, pop in the freezer and you're ready to go! Suffed apples are great for power chewers too as it's all edible so there's no need to worry about anything being destroyed! (Always make sure the core and all seeds are removed before giving to your dog). You can also buy doggy ice cream which makes a great long lasting filling for Kongs and Lickimats.
If like me, you're not organised enough to prepare frozen Kongs and Lickimats in advance, making up some doggy ice cubes with water and a tasty treat means you've always got something on hand to pop into a Kong or stuffed apple alongside their normal food.
We talk about scatter feeding a lot, as it's such a simple thing to do but is one of the easiest and most effective enrichment activities. If you have a garden with a shaded area, then scattering some food in the shade is a great way to keep your dog occupied. If they normally find the garden really exciting and like to run round then it's a good way of helping them to calm down so they're not running round in the heat. Your dogs normal food is great for this activity so you don't need to worry about feeding excess treats while they're not exercising as much as normal.
If you have access to somewhere outside that is cool and shaded then letting your dog sniff to their hearts content is so beneficial for them. Smell is our dogs primary sense and the way they explore the world around them - the part of their brain that processes the information they receive from the olfactory receptors in their noses is much larger than ours, so sniffing really is a mental work out for them creating a tired, happy and contented dog.
Teaching our dogs to settle is a really useful life skill for them. Dogs normally sleep 12-14 hours per day, and making sure they have the opportunity to get in enough rest can help prevent lots of problem behaviours that occur when our dogs become over tired or unable to switch off. Choose a place that you'd like your dog to settle - this could be their bed or even a cool mat in the summer. If there is a place your dog normally chooses to lie down then this is a great place to start. Whenever your dog chooses to settle in this place, calmly reward them - we don't want to use exciting treats and an excited voice as this is likely to cause them to get up. If you have a dog that tends to always be focussed on you or follows you round then make sure you reward them any time they chose to stay on their bed / mat when you have moved away. Initially this might be you only moving a few steps, but gradually building it up over time. You can also use the same area to feed your dog their Kongs, Lickimats etc and long lasting chews, as this can really help your dog to realise that chilling out on their bed/mat is a great thing to do.
Perhaps you'd like to teach your dog a new skill or trick, or you just want to brush up on the basics. A training session somewhere cool indoors is a great alternative to a walk and can really strengthen your bond. If your dog already knows things like sit, lie down and stand, you can start to build behaviour chains by asking for one after the other to really see if their listening.
If your dog is a water lover, a dip in a paddling pool is the perfect way to cool down. If water isn't their thing then providing a damp towel for them to lie on can help to keep them cool. The hose pipe can also be a lot of fun if your dog loves water.
We'd love to hear what you've been up to with your dogs to help keep them cool - let us know in the comments or join us on Facebook or Instagram