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How to cool down your dog

Dog wearing sunglasses

We all love to be outside when the sun shining but this isn’t always good news for dogs. Our furry friends have a lot more insulation than we do and owners need to be sure that they can spot the signs of dehydration and overheating to avoid any serious consequences. Owners should be particularly vigilant if their dog has a long or thick coat, is very old or very young or is a breed with a short nose and flat face such as a pug, a boxer, a bulldog or a Shih Tzu. Also at risk during warmer weather are dogs with heart problems or medical conditions that cause difficulty breathing. Overweight dogs may also suffer, as well as extremely active dogs and working or hunting breeds like spaniels, retrievers and shepherds.

Heat exhaustion can lead to serious and potentially fatal conditions in dogs such as heat stroke and even cardiac arrest. Luckily, the signs aren’t too difficult to spot so you should be able to react quickly if your dog displays any of the following behaviours:

- Panting

- Glazed eyes

- Dizziness

- Fever

- Rapid heart rate

- Excessive drooling

- Lack of coordination

- Lethargy

If your dog displays any of these symptoms and you suspect they may be overheating, it’s important that you take action immediately to cool your dog down.

Dog under parasol

The first step is to get your dog out of the sun and either keep them in the shade or take them inside an air-conditioned building. If you happen to be near a lake or pool, let your dog cool down in the water but make sure this happens slowly to avoid worsening the condition, with them entering the water gradually and then standing with just their feet submerged for a while. If you don’t have access to a fresh water source, placing cool wet flannels or cloths on their armpits, neck and between their hind legs will help to bring their temperature down. Gently wetting their paw pads and ears may also help.

Try not to force your dog to drink water. They may struggle to keep it down and it could also end up in their lungs. Wetting their tongue with water can be helpful but never try and feed them ice cubes as this may cause a sudden drop in body temperature that could send them into shock.

If their situation doesn’t improve, get them to the vet.

Prevention is always better than cure in this case so here are some tips to keep your dogs safe in the sun:

- Switch walks to early morning or evening to avoid the heat of the midday sun

- Take a collapsible water dish out with you

- If you’re going to be out all day, pack a collapsible shade tent

- Always carry water on you

- Put down a wet towel for them to lay on

- Never leave your dog in the car

Being able to recognise the signs of an overheated dog and working to prevent it means that both you and your pooch can make the most of the nice weather.