11 March 2020
Today marks the start of Sun awareness week, a national campaign designed to highlight the dangers of being out in the sun too long and encourage sun safety.
It is well known not to leave a dog in a hot car however it happens far too often and many dogs die or suffer from heat stroke. It only takes a short amount of time for a dog to develop heat stroke, cracking a window does not cool the car enough and the temperature inside the car can rise dramatically in minutes. When a dog becomes overheated, they can develop loss of muscle control, kidneys cease to function, the brain becomes irreversibly damaged and finally their heart will stop. This is a terrifying and painful way to die.
Long haired dogs particularly suffer in the warmer months however it is not advised to completely shave their coat. Long coats often have many types of hair which protect from sunburn and circulate the air through the coat. Instead, regular grooming to shed loose hairs and provide other sources of relief.
If your dog is hairless or has been shaved due to surgery you may want to consider some protective clothing such as t-shirt or a more specifically designed piece of equipment from your local pet store, even some sun cream may be needed if out on walks to avoid burning – make sure it is safe for pets.
It is important to make sure they have fresh clean water at all times during hot weather, it may also be a good idea to leave a bowl of water in shaded areas outside so that they can have access throughout your home. Be sure to empty these bowls regularly and replace with fresh water, use cool water and avoid very cold water were possible You could even add some ice cubes to keep the water cooler for longer, it also makes a great game (outside of course). Frozen treats such as fruit can also help to cool them down, alternatively soaking some toys will help get water into their mouth and around their face.
Dogs can sometimes get carried away, they can be too busy having fun playing or soaking up the sun and forget to stop for a drink or a rest in the shade. If you have a dog who loves being in the garden and in the sunshine make sure you keep an eye on them, encourage them to rest in the shade and have a drink.
Most dogs love getting wet especially in the summer as it helps them to cool down. A paddling pool isn’t just for kids, dogs love them too! Fill one up with cool water in the shade and watch your dog enjoy cooling off, you can even throw some teats to encourage paddling.
Dogs still need their daily walks but beware of the effects walking on hot ground can have on their paws, try to walk your dog in the mornings before the sun is at its hottest or late afternoons/evenings once it has cooled a little.
Symptoms of heatstroke:
• Heavy panting
• Excessive dribbling
• Increased heart rate
• Very red gums and tongue
• Lack of energy
• Inability/reluctant to get up after laying down
• Loss of Consciousness
If you suspect your dog has heatstroke, move to a cool or shaded area immediately. Do not poor very cold water over them as this can constrict blood flow and make things worse, instead use cool water or even soak a towel; focus on the legs, chest and neck. Provide cool water for drinking and if possible, a fan to provide some breeze. Contact your vet for further advise, as soon as possible.
Puppies, overweight, sensitive or senior dogs are more susceptible to heat stroke but all dogs are at risk so make sure you keep an eye on your dogs in the sunshine. Don’t forget to take of yourselves too!