It’s Sunny… The 5 Second Rule, Heatstroke & Top Tips

It’s sunny! There’s nothing like the excitement of realising summer has arrived!

Well, for us anyway. For our fur covered family members, they often need some help to stay cool in this weather. If the family is out in the garden, the chances are that the furry ones will want to be with you, so here are some ideas to ensure they’re able to enjoy the weather as much as you do.

Dogs don’t regulate their temperature in the same way that we do. They don’t sweat from their skin and most dogs’ sweat glands are around their foot pads. You’ll sometimes see a trail of pawprints left by your dog on a warm day.

Let’s not forget the fur coat they’re wearing. If you’re outside and feeling too hot in your t-shirt and shorts, just think about how your dog is feeling.

If you are thinking about taking your dog out for a walk, treat yourself to an early morning or late evening potter when it’s cooler. Use the five second rule BEFORE you head out. Take yourself outside to the pavement you’ll be walking on. Place the back of your hand on the pavement for five seconds. If it’s cool and comfortable, then your dog’s paws should be safe on the ground. Remember that you have shoes, your dog’s paws can burn quickly on a hot pavement.

If you’re heading out on a family adventure, you don’t need me to tell you that dogs must not be left in cars. There’s more to the car journey than that though. It’s not unusual for the first wave of summer to be combined with queues of traffic as we head to the beach, the park, or anywhere where there’s an ice cream van. Sitting in that queue of traffic means that your dog is sat in an oven. Many of us transport our dogs in the boot of the car. It doesn’t matter that the windows are open or that the air con is on. The boot of the car is an oven and if you’re sat still in traffic, your dog is at risk.

heatstroke dog

To make life more comfortable for your dog;

  • add ice cubes to their water bowl
  • buy a cooling mat or lay out some damp towels for them in a shady spot outside
  • double up on water if you’re leaving them at home
  • make them their own ice cream
  • treat them to their own paddling pool… but remember that if they’re over excited about the water adventure, they’ll need some time out
  • freeze a stuffed kong for your dog to enjoy indoors or in the shade

If you are worried about your dog and the effect of the heat, look out of these symptoms of heatstroke:

  • Incessant panting, restlessness
  • Weakness, ataxia (wobbliness, difficulty walking)
  • Drooling
  • Vomiting
  • Bright red, gray, purple, or bluish gums
  • Collapse
  • Seizures
  • Bruising (first appears as pinpoint bruises that can be mistaken for a “rash”)
  • Bloody diarrhoea

It’s important to cool your dog, but too much cooling can do more harm than good so the priority is to get to a vet… QUICKLY. Call your vet to alert them that you’re on your way as an emergency.

These sunny days are much more enjoyable for the whole family if we acknowledge that our dogs need to enjoy it in their own way. Heatstroke is preventable!

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