Forecasters are warning of a new heat wave that could be about to sweep Britain this week, meaning that this could be the hottest May on records – and we’ve already had our hottest ever April. While people are encouraged to make the most of the good weather there are certain precautions that dog owners should take to make sure that they are ready for the warm weather.
Dogs usually try to cool their body down by panting. This works by saliva evaporating off their tongues, which cools down their blood supply. Humans can cool themselves through evaporation but humans are much better equipped to cope with this because of sweat glands on the body. On what may just be a warm day for us, may actually be uncomfortably hot for a dog.
Pugs and bulldogs and other similar dogs with short faces are more likely to become hotter than longer faced dogs because they have shorter passageways that help to cool them down. These flat faced dogs are also known to have breathing difficulties, so keeping them out of direct sunlight and warm areas, and providing lots of ventilation, will help the dog to stay cool.
The most obvious solution is to keep supplying your dog with cold, fresh water. Make sure that the water bowl remains in the shade so the water does not get warm. If you are worried that your dog may not be drinking enough water, you could try adding a low sodium chicken broth. This will encourage the dog to remain hydrated without forcing it to drink.
Be observant to your dog’s behaviour. Panting is an obvious sign that the dog is too hot and needs to cool down. As the dog’s temperature increases, their tongue will get broader and flatter. The tongue may also curl up at the bottom if they are too hot. If you see this happening then stop any activity and make sure that you cool your dog down. The groin area should be cooled down first in your dog as there are large veins there that will cool and circulate blood faster. It is important to never use ice as this could cause further complications.
If you think that your dog is suffering from heat exhaustion wait until he is sufficiently cool then take them to your nearest vets. The full effects may not be visible for several days and, it is suggested, that once a dog has had health problems due to heat it is more likely that it will happen again in future.