How to Avoid Heatstroke in a Dog by Suzy Whyte
Staying cool in a heatwave can be tough for a dog. This is because they don't have sweat glands like us, but they pant to expel heat. We want our dogs to enjoy the warm weather with us, but it's our job to keep them safe and happy. The most important thing is that we keep our dogs content and comfortable without any overly strenuous activities so that we can avoid heatstroke and keep our dogs from overheating!
Always make sure your dog has a few fresh water bowl stations throughout the garden and house and pop a few ice cubes in it to keep it cool for them.
It can be to want to bring them on long car trips to the beach or hiking – but it's best to keep them at home where it's nice and cool and we don't put them at risk of heat exhaustion or heat stroke!
Particularly for the brachycephalic or 'flat-faced' breeds like pugs, bulldogs and shih-tzus for example. However, we still need to keep them tired and happy with boredom-breaking activities and mental enrichment.
Below are my top tips for keeping their minds busy and stimulated and cool them down in the high temps at the same time. These should give you some good ideas on how to cool a dog down.
- Avoid walking at the hottest times of day- this is between 11 am and 5 pm. Instead bring them out for sniffy walks (walks where their sensory exploration is the key focus!) and short strolls when it's cooler at night or in the early morning. How hot is too hot for your dog? Peak sunshine times, even if as a human, you might enjoy them!
- All dogs enjoy mental and physical stimulation,but high activity breeds like huskies, collies and beagles need a job to do!Try scatter their kibble or some treats over a sniffy mat or around the garden in any shaded parts when giving them their meals. They'll be working for their food and doing what they love to do best - use their nose! If they like more of a challenge, try upping the ante by hiding treats around the room or garden and assign a command to it like "find it!".
- Homemade doggy ice pops are a great way to engage your dog's brain and give them a refreshing treat. Make them up and have them in the freezer ready to go by filling up a container or ice cube tray with blended natural yoghurt (low sugar), mashed banana, or peanut butter.Mix a few berries or dog treats in too for them to find. They'll enjoy scratching, licking and sniffing their way through them.Check on Red Mills Pet social channels over the next few days to find a new delicious recipe to try!
- Always have a puzzle toy like a stuffed Kong, Licki Mat or K9 Connectables stuffed with dog safe treats like mashed kibble, wet dry dog food, peanut butter etc. In the freezer. If you're spending time out in the garden, try putting a wet or damp towel in the shade and placing the puzzle toy on the towel and asking your dog to "search" or "find it" to make it a game and keep them engaged to have at the puzzle toy and get all the yummy treats out.
- Another iced treat and probably the simplest is to take your dog's dish:fill it with low salt stock or water and pop some chopped up fruit and vegetables like cucumber, berries, carrot, apple, banana, peppers and celery in the water, then add their favourites toys or balls,some chewy treats or dog biscuits. Stick it in the freezer for a few hours and then let your dog get to work licking and chewing away at the ice block to get all the toys and treats out. This will provide hours of cool down fun and keep them hydrated, busy and their minds engaged. They'll be ready to take a long nap in the coolest part of the house afterwards, and this is a great way to avoid heatstroke in dogs.
- When you're unable to go for long walks like your dog may be used to, try some indoor training sessions instead. Even just ten minutes of training in a cool part of the house and getting them to focus on you and use their brains will help tire a dog out and break up their day. Keep their interest by using especially tasty treats, like Red Mills Go Native Herring Treats, or Turkey Treats. As I always say a tired dog is a happy dog! Try teaching a new command or just follow through their usual tricks like sit, stay and come. Be sure to not overdo it and make sure your dog takes lots of breaks and always has access to fresh water.
- Be extra vigilant in making sure your dog is not overheating or finding the heat too much. Look out for excessive water drinking and panting, red gums, vomiting or diarrhoea or being very lethargic and seek vet advice immediately as these can be signs that your dog is at risk of heat stroke.