THE secret to happy and healthy four-legged friends is ensuring they get enough exercise.
However, dogs can succumb to heatstroke very quickly – so it's important to know how to look after them in hot weather.
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Is it too hot to walk my dog?
Dogs, just like people, can get heatstroke so you should walk them when it’s cooler, such as early in the morning or later at night.
Heatstroke can be fatal and occur in a matter of minutes, with tell-tale signs include collapsing, excessive panting and dribbling.
But sadly, often when they show symptoms the damage is already done.
If you place the back of your hand on the pavement and it feels hot – then it's too hot for your dog's paw.
Experts call it the seven-second pavement test – if it's too hot for your hand for seven seconds, then walking your dog in those conditions wouldn't be the best idea.
Dogs' main sweat glands are located on their paw pads – which is one of the reasons why walking on hot pavements is uncomfortable for the pups.
In the hot weather, don’t run, jog or cycle with dogs.
How can you keep dogs from overheating?
There are lots of good methods to use with your dog during the hot weather, including letting your pup go for a swim, giving them a haircut and putting ice cubes in their water bowls.
Here are some other great tips:
- Swimming is excellent exercise for dogs and a great exercise alternative to walking in the summer heat. But remember that not all dogs like to swim, so if yours doesn’t then don’t force them and never throw a dog into water.
- Make sure they have access to fresh water throughout the day – especially when the sun is at its hottest.
- Put ice cubes in their water bowls to keep their water cool.
- Only take your dog out very early or very late in the day when the weather is cooler.
- Take bottles of water and travel bowls with you on walks.
- If your dog has a thick coat of fur, it might be worth giving them a haircut to keep them cool.
- If you go to the beach, be careful to avoid heatstroke.
- Put down a damp towel for your dog to lie on – this can cool them down.
- Check freshwater lakes, rivers, ponds and canals to make sure they are clean before letting your dog dive in. Some types of algae, including blue-green algae, are toxic to dogs. If your dog swims in algae-contaminated water, contact your vet immediately.
- Dogs can and do drown in rivers and the sea. If your dog has inhaled water, contact your vet, as they can suffer complications.
Zoe Costigan, a vet for pet well-being firm ITCHpet, said: "Dogs can really easily overheat – especially flat-nosed breeds or overweight animals – which can lead to heatstroke.
"You have to be able to spot the signs, as the sooner heat stroke is treated, the better the outcome.
"If your pet seems to be agitated and panting excessively, drooling, exceedingly thirsty, vomiting or staggering around, then you need to contact a vet as a matter of urgency.
"Cool towels can be put over your pet on the way to the vets to start the cooling process. Don’t submerge your pet in cold water as this can cause shock.”
“With the hot weather pending, make sure you pack water bottles with you everywhere you go so you can give your little buddy a drink anywhere, anytime. A cooling mat at home and in the car can also offer welcome relief to hot pets too.”
Should I keep my pet indoors?
There are certain situations when it is probably best to keep your pet inside.
If you’re thinking of going outside with your pet, first make sure the pavement isn’t too hot for them.
If you can’t avoid going outside during the hotter parts of the day look into purchasing dog shoes.
In addition, pale-coloured dogs are particularly at risk from sunburn, as are dogs with thin or sparse fur.
To avoid this, you could put a T-shirt on your dog, or apply non-toxic waterproof human sunscreen.
If you do keep your dog indoors, you can stimulate them with games and indoor exercise – rather than risking the heat.
If your dog is outside, ensure they have access to shade and plenty of water.
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