Hot Weather Advice - It's #CoolToBeKind
As the weather starts to heat up, we’ve got some tips on how you can help keep your dog safe and happy this Summer! Heatstroke is a real danger for our furry friends as they can’t regulate their body temperature the same way as we can and so it’s important to take preventative steps to ensure your dog stays cool in hot weather. It’s always #CoolToBeKind, so check out our tips on how you can keep your dog cool this summer:
- Never leave your dog alone in a car, no matter what the weather is like. Even just a few minutes can prove fatal to them. On a 22-degree Celsius day, the temperature inside your car can rise by 11 degrees in just 10 minutes. Opening a window or parking in the shade does very little to offset this.
- Try to exercise your dog in the cooler parts of the day such as early in the morning or late in the evening when the sun isn’t so hot. Make sure not to over-do it either!
- It’s also important to remember the seven-second test. Press your hand down on to the tarmac for seven-seconds – if it’s too hot for your hand, it’s too hot for your dog’s paws!
- Don’t forget to bring plenty of water for your dog to drink when you are exercising them – pop-up transportable bowls are great for when you’re out and about with your pooch!
- Make sure your dog has a constant supply of water to drink at home too. Place a few water bowls in different locations around the house and make sure there’s one outside in the shade too. You can even put a couple of ice cubes into their bowl to keep the temperature cooler for longer.
- Another great way to make sure your dog stays hydrated is by freezing some of their favourite toys in water or making an ice-lick with frozen treats inside. This will encourage them to lick the ice which will help to hydrate them!
- Make sure your dog always has a nice, shaded spot both indoors and outdoors where they can escape the heat of the sun. On especially hot days, you can put out a damp towel for them to lie on to keep them even cooler. Make sure to replace or rewet it often though, as it can dry out quickly!
- It can also be a good idea to trim back particularly hairy dogs’ fur, so they won’t get as hot. Makes sure you consult your groomer about this first though!
- If possible, avoid long car journeys with your dog, especially during the hottest parts of the day and try to avoid busy roads where you might get stuck in traffic. You can use a car sunblind to provide your dog with some shade while you’re driving! Don’t forget to stop for water and toilet breaks too!
- When it comes to sun safety, don’t forget that just like humans, dogs can get sunburnt too, so try to limit the amount of sun exposure they’re getting. Be especially careful with dogs that have white or very thin fur as they can get burned more easily. If you’re considering using sunscreen on your dog, always seek the advice of a registered vet beforehand, even if it’s labelled at “Pet-Safe” or “Dog-Friendly”.
- If your dog enjoys getting their paws wet, why not consider getting them a little paddling pool to splash about in in the garden! This will help keep them cool and provide them (and probably you!) with some entertainment.
- If you’re walking your dog near a body of water, it’s a good idea to keep them on a long lead so they can have a paddle while staying safe. Do make sure your dog is fully vaccinated if you’re going to allow them to swim and never force them to enter the water if they don’t want to. Your dog needs to go at their own pace.
Heatstroke in Dogs
Even when taking all the above steps, it’s important to be aware of the visible signs of heatstroke and what to do if you suspect your dog might be suffering from it. Heatstroke is a condition that occurs when a dog’s body becomes so overheated, it cannot cool down using its normal methods. It happens when the amount of heat they are producing exceeds their ability to cool themselves down. It most often occurs from strenuous physical exercise or if they are kept in a confined space such as a car. Dogs cannot cool themselves down the same way as humans can and so must rely on cooling down by panting.
Signs of heatstroke can include any number of the following:
- Excessive or rapid panting
If you suspect your dog is suffering from heatstroke, immediately follow these steps:
- It is important to seek veterinary attention as soon as you suspect heatstroke; the sooner this happens, the better chance your dog has of making a full recovery.
- Dial your vet on speaker phone immediately, while moving your dog to a cool or shaded area. Advise your vet that your dog may be suffering from heatstroke and describe your dog’s symptoms.
- If you are waiting for transport and cannot immediately get your dog to the vet, use a water spray to gently cool your dog’s skin temperature and offer them small amounts of room temperature water (never cold) to help bring their temperature down further. They can also be placed in front of the breeze of a fan if you have one available.
- If you are driving to the vet, the above step can be done in the car, provided you have someone to help you. You can also make an active attempt to cool the car on the way to the vets by driving with the windows down or air-conditioning on. This should help to further reduce your dog’s temperature.
The main goal of treating heatstroke in dogs is to lower their body temperature quickly enough to prevent further damage being done to their vital organs, but not so quickly as to cause shock. Dogs that recover are usually those whose temperatures are returned to normal as early as possible. The longer their body temperature stays at a high-level, the greater the potential for damage to their vital organs.
If You See a Dog Alone in a Car
Never ever leave your dog alone in a car, no matter what the weather is like. Even if the car is parked in the shade and the windows are left open, it does very little to keep the temperature in the car low.
If you see a dog alone in a car, have a look around for the owner. If you cannot see the owner and you are worried the dog may be suffering from heatstroke, report the situation to the local Garda Station. Stay with the dog until the Gardaí arrive and once the dog has been safely removed from the car, seek veterinary attention immediately. You can find details of your local Garda Station on their website: https://www.garda.ie/en/contact-us/station-directory/
The Dangers of Blue/Green Algae
Blue green algae are actually not an alga, but a group of bacteria that has formed into “clumps”. Blooms of the bacteria can build up at the edges of ponds and lakes, making it look foamy.
The algae are often seen in hot weather, in non-flowing water but it can be seen at any time of year.
The bacteria produce toxins which can stop a dog’s liver from functioning properly.
Not all types of blue green algae are harmful, but you can’t tell from just looking at them – exposure to toxic algae can result in long term health problems for dogs, or even be fatal.
Symptoms of toxicity include:
- Confusion, unconsciousness
To reduce the risk of your dog being poisoned, look out for signs from local councils or environmental agencies around bodies of water which may serve as warnings.
Keep your dog on a lead around water which is known or suspected to have blue-green algal blooms, and do not let your dog drink from them, or swim in them.
If your dog has been swimming anywhere outside, it is sensible to rinse them thoroughly with clean water afterwards, as dogs can indirectly ingest the toxins from their coats when they lick themselves afterwards.
If you suspect your dog has been poisoned, seek veterinary attention immediately. There is no antidote for the toxin, but prompt intervention can improve the chances of survival.
We hope you and your dog enjoy the summer months and warmer weather this year and always remember it’s #CoolToBeKind!