We Brits are obsessed with the weather and having a dog only fuels our incessant Weather App checking – I check mine more often than Instagram and still regularly end up going for dog walks in the wrong clothes!
If you’ve been following my Dog Blog, you’ll know that I’m owned by Winnie, a young Weimaraner. She’s a die-hard sun worshipper but it’s hard for her to cope in this heat and her “I’m hot, I should probably go inside” instinct is completely missing, so it falls to me to ensure she keeps cool and out of direct sunlight.
The amazing weather we’ve enjoyed of late makes doggy days challenging, so here are my Top Tips for keeping hot dogs cool – and safe.
1. Walkies – when is hot too hot?
The best test here is to lay the back of your hand (not your palm) on the pavement. If it’s too hot to keep it there for 5 seconds or less, it’s definitely too hot for your dog to walk out there.
On hot days take your dog out nice and early on before the sun really starts to beat down; 6-8am is a good window. Then wait until late evening to head out again if your dog has two walks a day, making sure to use the hand test before you go, just in case.
If your dog gets bored between walks or you can’t go out when it’s cool, remember that a stimulating training or play session at home will tire your dog out, too, so hot days make great training and play days.
♥ Plan your route so you’ll have plenty of shade; head through the woods or walk along a shady river bank.
♥ Try to incorporate a dip in a dog-friendly pond or stream on your route. Make sure the water is safe, i.e. does not contain any blue/green algae, does not have a current, and that it’s water dogs are allowed in. The dog pond set back from Pen Ponds in Richmond Park is a great spot, and it’s not too far from the Pen Ponds cafe….they do a mean Bacon Sarnie!
♥ Take plenty of water with you – Sheen Pets has great little water bottle-come-water bowls that fit neatly into a back pack or satchel.
♥ If your dog’s feeling the heat, stop and rest in the shade.
2. Keeping Cool at Home
Not many of us have the luxury of air conditioning at home, so what can you do when throwing the windows open is doing nothing but circulating hot air around the house?
1. Cool Coats – dogs don’t sweat like humans, they sweat through their paw pads which isn’t very helpful for cooling off. Cool coats, designed to transfer heat out, and keep cool in, are a great buy and less expensive than air con! Winnie has had a Ruff Wear Swamp Cooler for two years – it works well and is still going strong. Cool coats are also available from Sheen Pets.
2. Cool Mats – lay down a cool mat for your pooch to flop down on. Scruffs Cool Mats (alternative brands available from Sheen Pets) are cleverly 5-10 degrees cooler than room temperature and available in various sizes online. Your dog will usually find the coolest place in the house – that’s the place to put the mat!
3. Shallow paddling pool – if you have space this is a great way to cool your dog down….and you, if you’re up for a paddle with your pooch. It’s important that the paddling pool is nice and shallow, and that you only allow your dog in if you are supervising them! Just use clean, cool water.
4. Fans – set up a daisy chain of fans around the room to help provide the relief of a cool breeze. Multifix or Robert Dyas on the Upper Richmond Road can help.
3. Canine Care in the Car
Hot dogs die in cars. It’s as simple as that. Dogs cannot regulate their temperate as easily as we can – they’re stuck in their fur coats and cannot shed their layers or sweat all over like we can to cool down. Please think twice before leaving the dog in the car while you nip into Waitrose.
Even if you don’t think it’s very hot outside, the inside of the car can be. If it’s just 22*C outside, the car can reach 47*C within 60 minutes Heatstroke can be fatal to a dog. Even with the windows open, in a hot and stuffy car a dog cannot cool themselves down.
The safest thing? Leave your dog at home on a hot day.
4. Cool Treats for Hot Dogs
Try getting creative in the kitchen to make cooling summer snacks for your dog ~ they go down a treat and will help with hydration, too.
♥ Tupperware ice block
Simply fill a Tupperware tub with water, sprinkle in a few tasty treats, e.g. Nature’s Menu treats, blueberries, cucumber pieces, etc. Freeze overnight (freezing time depends on size of the tub) and voilà, a good 30 minutes’ cooling fun for your Fido. Just ensure you let it thaw for a few moments to take the initial frostbite effect out of the equation.
♥ Frozen banana cubes
A good friend and fellow dog trainer gave me this recipe and it certainly went down well with Winnie! These make great training treats and Kong fillers.
Mash and combine 1 medium ripe banana with 3 x tablespoons smooth peanut butter (make sure It does not contain Xylitol as this is dangerous for dogs), 2 x tablespoons unsweetened natural yoghurt and 2 x tablespoons water.
Dollop into an ice try and freeze overnight. Pop out of the ice tray as and when a little cooling treat is in order.
♥ Summer fruit cubes
Similarly to the above recipe, wash 14 raspberries, 6 strawberries (hulled), 14 blueberries. Once clean, mash and combine with 2 x tablespoons of unsweetened natural yoghurt and 2 x tablespoons of tap water.
Dollop into your ice tray and freeze overnight. Pop out of the ice tray when your four legged friend fancies an iced and oh-so-healthy treat.