An Australian summer can be quite dangerous for our canine companions. It’s important that we always check the weather conditions and monitor our dogs during the hot months.
Here are some tips to keep dogs happy and cool throughout summer:
Know the signs of heatstroke
Heatstroke comes on quickly and can be life-threatening for our furry companions. Dogs will cool themselves down by panting but you must keep an eye out for symptoms such as:
- Heavy/excessive panting
- Excessive thirst
- Lack of appetite
- Dark tongue
- Rapid heartbeat
- Lack of coordination
If your dog has been out in the heat and showing any of these signs, take your dog to a vet immediately. While travelling to the vet, keep the windows down and the air conditioner on.
Until you reach the vet, you can lower your dog’s temperature by gradually providing water for drinking, immersing the dog in lukewarm (not cold) water, or applying a cold pack (or a cold towel) to the head, neck or chest.
Groom your dog regularly
Your dog’s grooming requirements will depend on your dog’s breed and coat. Some dogs will continue to lose their winter coats in the early months of summer so a daily brush is a must. Other fluffier, non-shedding dogs such as poodle breeds will require a summer haircut by a professional groomer.
Do not shave your dog. Shaving may seem like a good idea, but dogs use their coats to keep cool just as they do to keep warm. A tidy-up or haircut by a professional is the safer option.
Walk, don’t run
Since Australian summers can be extremely hot and humid, it is not wise to have dogs overexert themselves. Early mornings or into the evening when it’s cooler is best for walking and it’s best to stick to shaded areas and grassy patches.
Before heading out, place your hand onto the ground where you usually walk to check if the temperature is safe for your dog’s sensitive paws. If you cannot leave your hand there for 5 seconds- it’s too hot for your dog.
Avoid hot cars
Try to avoid any unnecessary car trips with your dog. If a car trip is required, make sure the car is cool before the dog gets in, the air conditioning remains on, and you’ve packed plenty of water for your dog. Never leave your dog unattended in a car. Dogs can succumb to heatstroke within minutes of being in a hot car, whether it is parked in the sun or not.
Always have access to drinking water
Make sure your pooch always has access to fresh, clean water. Keeping a bottle on you during walks can be a life saver. Dogs can become dehydrated a lot quicker than us humans.
Provide a cool, ventilated area
Pet parents need to consider the humidity as well as the heat when providing shelter for their dogs. It is best to keep dogs inside where it’s cooler, or if they are outside, make sure there is a shaded area (e.g. under a tree) where they can remain cool. Their doghouse should have ventilation holes and ideally be off the ground to allow for air flow. Cooling beds or placing ice under the dog bed are also great ways to help with the heat.
Supervise any swimming
Cooling off in the water can be great fun for dogs, however, not all dogs enjoy or excel at swimming and it’s important your dog is always supervised when in the water. Introduce your dog to water gradually and use life jackets or swimming aids when required.
To prevent your dog from falling in or drinking the pool water, make sure the pool is covered when not in use. Thirsty dogs will look for water wherever they can find it and pool water contains harmful chlorine and chemicals. If your dog does love jumping into the pool, help your dog know where the exit is for getting out of the pool (e.g. the stairs or ramp). You can also place an object such as a large plant pot near the exit to help them navigate their way out.
Rinse your dog off after swimming to remove chlorine or salt from the fur.
Watch out for snakes
As the weather heats up, snakes love to come out and bathe. Try to keep your yard as unappealing to snakes as possible by keeping your grass short and your yard free from rubbish, food scraps (including dog food being left out), branches and other assorted materials. Pay attention if your dog starts barking or chasing something- it may be a snake!
When out on walks, stay away from tall, long grasses and keep your dog on a lead. If you think your dog has been bitten, take them to a vet immediately.
Just like us, our furry friends need sunscreen too. Use sunscreen made specifically for dogs to prevent any sunburn, especially for dogs with short or light coloured fur. The most needed spots for sunscreen are around the nose, ears and bellies and should be applied every 3-4 hours during a day out.
Enjoy the many fun summer activities and icy treats with your furry best friend whilst staying cool, hydrated and safe!