Warmer months can be great fun for dogs and their owners, but when the temperature outside starts to soar you need to find ways to keep them cool and free from overheating.

Cool mat

A cool mat is made of PVC material that is waterproof and scratch proof.  The gel inside should be made of non-toxic and there is no need to refrigerate, since it works by dissipating heat away from the dog’s body when it is laid on.

We had one for Luika, our last German Shepherd and they are excellent for the car should you need to take a journey in hot weather,  or just to lay on either inside or outside to cool your pet down.  It is made of a thin, foldable material, so easy to take with you wherever you go.

One word of caution though, even if your dog is not a chewer, do not leave them unsupervised, since the gel inside these mats may be classed as nontoxic but if ingested, can cause a stomach upset and other health problems.

Paddling pool

If you are lucky enough to live near a beach or a lake, you may be tempted to allow them to jump in to cool off, but remember that if your dog is too hot a sudden decrease in body temperature could result in further raising of their internal organs, so ensure that he enters the water slowly, giving him time to adjust.

If you are city dwellers and to not have access to water, then a small paddling pool can provide lots of fun as well as cooling your dog down. Look for a sturdy pool and one that will not puncture easily.  It is a false economy to buy a cheap flimsy one that will be ruined as soon as your dogs jump in.

Wet towel

I remember when Ben my first German Shepherd Dog started to overheat in the last summer of his life.  A call to the vet, advised us to take a towel, run it under the cold water tap and wring it out before placing it over his body.  Done a few times this gradually brought his temperature down.  It is a trick I have used with previous dogs and given the option, they would gravitate to the damp towel where they would lay until sufficiently cool to enjoy the garden again.

Cool treats

There are some wonderful ice cube packs for dogs, which come in all shapes and sizes.  Whether it is a tray of paw prints, to sausage dogs, you can conjure up some great frozen treats, such as strawberry’s and yogurt, but do ensure that the yogurt does not contain artificial sweeteners or added sugars, since they are unhealthy for dogs since some contain xylitol which is toxic.

As with all treats, only feed your dog a small amount to begin with, in case they suffer a reaction and do not over-indulge.

Garden hose

Whose dog doesn’t like to chase the garden hose when watering plants on a hot day?

If you are using this to help cool your dog, remember to use a setting with low pressure, like the mist spray.  This will also prevent your dog from swallowing too much water which could lead to water intoxication, but with all forms of cooling, supervision and careful control will allow both you and your dog hours of enjoyment over the summer months.

Sunscreen

We all think of slapping on sunscreen to protect our bodies from the summer heat, but what about our pets!  While dogs and cats naturally have some protection from their fur, they can still suffer sunburn and skin cancers.

It is vital that you use the right protection specially designed for your dog/cat, such as products that do not contain zinc oxide or para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA), as they can be extremely toxic if ingested.  As we all know, dogs are prone to lick areas that have been applied with any kind of cream, so they should be supervised for the first 15 – 20 minutes when first applied, until it has all been absorbed.  Ideally, you should be using a sunscreen with a factor of at least 30 – 50 and one that is waterproof.

Areas such as the nose, ears tips and skin around the mouth and any areas where their pigmentation is light.  Just like children, it should be reapplied after every four to five hours and after he/she goes swimming.

Alternatively, keep your dog out of the midday sun and provide plenty of shade and cold water.  Walk your dogs first thing in the morning and last thing at night and if you are still in doubt take off your shoes and feel your feet on the pavement.  If it is too hot for you it is too hot for your dog.

Heatstroke

If your dog looks to be struggling (trouble with breathing etc), please do not hesitate to seek veterinary treatment.

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