You human folk may love summertime but spare a thought for us dogs. Bad enough we don't get to enjoy the BBQ and beers, but worse still we cannot regulate our body temperatures like you, and pacing ourselves isn't something we're very good at. As a consequence, heat exhaustion is a serious risk and a fast track to the vets if left ignored.
Learn to recognise when I'm over-heating. I don't sweat but you'll quickly notice when my body temperature is running high. I'll feel hot to the touch, there'll be intense panting, some tongue-out action and bloodshot eyes. Hardly a picture fit for Instagram, but it's my way of saying cool me down RIGHT NOW. I don't want to be a hot dog, so here are some ideas for keeping me cool when temperatures rise.
Walk me early or walk me late
Try to walk me at the coolest times of the day then I won't suffer too much and my paw pads stay cooler. That might mean early starts in the morning, but hey, I'm worth it.
If you're lucky enough to walk on the beach I need to be off the sand between 10am-5pm in many places anyway so that works nicely. And there's the added bonus of a dip in the sea, a great cooling tonic.
Don't leave me in the carIt might look like a car to you, but to me it's an oven. Do your absolute best to avoid leaving me there for any prolonged period of time or I'll start cooking like a Sunday roast. If you absolutely have to leave your dog in the car, wind down the windows down as far as possible, pour them a bowl of water and be quick.
Shade is kingI've a talent for seeking out cool spots around the house but us schnauzer types are smart that way. Make sure the dog bed is in a shady position throughout the day or you never know where you might find your dog sleeping. In our house the laminate floor is a personal favourite as it's refreshingly cool.
Dehydration is bad newsIt's crucial you keep my water bowl topped up with fresh, cold water. Check there are no closed doors or barriers keeping your dog from his water. Why not treat him to a second bowl, one for outdoors too.
And when you're out and about, a collapsible travel water bowl is a great idea.
Gadgets and gizmosThere are lots of dog accessories available that can help. A fan is good. Cooling mats too, and even garden paddling pools. As a special treat you could serve up dog friendly ice cream (dairy and sugar free). We like this recipe.
Cold compressMy owners have an ingenious way to cool me down, using my dog towelling robe as a cold compress. It wraps snuggly around my body and never comes off, so I'll happily lounge around in it through the heat of the day. A wet towel on the floor doesn't stay on as I move around, nor does it cover my torso. Ice isn't recommended - extreme cold constricts the blood vessels making it hard for heat to escape. Simple cold water is better.
A haircut?This can be a misconception. Us dogs don't always benefit from a haircut as our coats "loft" when we move, providing a natural cooling system. This lofting process won't work so well if our coats are tangled so give them the occassional brush. Brushed hair allows for better air circulation.
Read my body languageWhen I'm displaying the symptoms of heat exhaustion it's a strong sign that I'm struggling to cope. If we are out for a walk and I can't keep up or continually lie down, that's my S.O.S. call "Carry me".
In our household my humble slave does the noble thing when required (see pic). Not so easy if you own a Newfoundland of course, in which case you'll either have to fetch the car or make sure they don't reach that stage in the first place.
It's terrible seeing a dog suffering in the heat. Please do all you can this summer to help your four-legged friends remain cool as a cucumber.
(First published 18 Jan 2016, updated 1 Feb 2017)