10 Ways To Keep Your Pupper Safe And Cool This Summer
1. Splish Splash
Water... Live it, love it. The best way by far to keep your doggo cool this summer. My babies have it everywhere at home… they have an inside drinking water bowl, an outside drinking water bucket and a kiddie pool of water to drink, splash, roll around in… whatever they like. I keep it under a cheap shade sail to keep it cool all day. They live for it. Any time they need to cool off, it’s slopping and slurping, face in the water to their eyeballs blowing bubbles, or a quick lay down in the pool to get their tummy wet , a shake and they’re off again. They love it. If your dog isn’t water obsessed like my retrievers are, always at least make sure that they have access to multiple water sources just in case a gust of wind knocks a container over (or in my case a big clumsy pup. If you have multiple or big dogs use a plastic feed bucket… they are $6 from Target and can hold 42 litres. Mine love them because they can stand in them and cool their feet off too. They are cheap, easy to clean and I use them everywhere. Find them online here https://www.target.com.au/p/42l-flexi-tub-assorted/61873834?utm_term=61873834&utm_content=42l-flexi-tub-assorted&utm_source=google&utm_medium=merchant-site&utm_campaign=merchant-site&gclid=Cj0KCQiAqo3-BRDoARIsAE5vnaJgmu5lHaoJ5FEV9es1Mp7bjHH9Ck12k-L7u8IMG_Ia9wUqabH-ow8aAgoTEALw_wcB&gclsrc=aw.ds.
Need a kiddie pool or portable bath for the pups? Try this one from Kmart https://www.kmart.com.au/product/pet-portable-bath/3224834.
2. Stay Shady
I cannot impress the importance of shade enough… it’s imperative in the heat if you are not at home and your pet is outside. Dogs have died from heat stress at temperatures in only the mid-thirties simply from having none or inadequate shade and no water. Just don’t risk it. If you don’t have a back veranda or shady trees in your yard it’s as simple as a cheap shade sale from your local Bunnings or Ebay (https://www.bunnings.com.au/marquee-3-x-3m-charcoal-triangle-shade-sail_p3300374). You can pick them up for as little as $15 and up. Just string them up on the fence or whatever you have… it does not have to be fancy. Just give them a little patch of shade or an open shelter with good airflow (a kennel with only one opening will not do the job in hot weather) and if you can, a raised bed. This allows air to flow underneath to keep the temperature cooler for your pooch. If you can do that much plus plenty of water and perhaps a cold chewy or frozen treat, your pupper will be safe and happy until you get home.
3. Too Cool for School
There are some terrific products out there nowadays to help keep pets cool like cooling pads, cooling beds, and even cooling collars. Me? My old favourite has always been the good ole’ wet t-shirt placed on the floor in front of a fan or the AC for my kiddos to lay on. But if you are after something that requires a little less work try these cooling pads/beds from Kmart:
4. Easy Breezy
Always keep your pet in a well-ventilated area whether it’s a well shaded area on the back porch or inside with open windows, fan or AC depending on the temperature that day. It is much easier to keep yourself cool with a breeze of some sort going right? Well the same goes for them. Keep things open for natural airflow when you can, and when the air is still and like an oven, close-up shop and get the fan or the AC going.
5. Freezie Goodness
There are some great and easy recipes all over the web for frozen treatos… they are so simple and some of them you can even eat yourself! It can be as simple as an ice cube tray and some fruit, yoghurt, chicken stock, whatever your dog’s favourites are. You can even make pupsicles with a popsicle tray, some yummy ingredients and a chew stick instead of a wooden one. My guys love extra cold yoghurt, fresh broth or meat stock as a cold drink or ice cubes, and of course ice cream. Here are some great ideas to get you started: https://www.rover.com/blog/homemade-dog-treats-freezer-summer/.
6. Just Cruisin’
As a general rule if the temperature for the day is going to be above 23-24 degrees my puppers stay home. If you are making a trip just to take them to the lake or the park that’s fine, but if you need to make stops for groceries or fuel or pretty much anything… leave them at home. Even with windows down the temperature inside a car on a hot day can double in just minutes and it is an excruciating way to die. Please don’t risk it. It infuriates me every year when I see dogs locked in cars at the supermarket with no owner to be found. I am the dog owner you really want to avoid if this is ever you… I am the one who will call the police or smash your car window if I see a dog clearly in distress. And I make no apology for it either.
It’s so important in summer heatwaves to plan walkie time… you wouldn’t want to go for a walk in the burning sun in the middle of the day would you? Neither does your dog. Always check weather forecasts for the next day and plan accordingly. On stinky hot days my puppers get to go out either before 11am or after 7-8pm. They will just get tired too quickly and not enjoy it as much if I take them in the heat. And remember… they are going barefoot so always check the temperature of the pavement or ground before leaving by placing the back of your hand on the surface. If it feels too hot to you then it is too hot for them.
If you have a senior doggie or a flat-faced pooch like a pug or bulldog please be careful… these types of dogs suffer far more easily than a standard pup. They are considered high risk for heat stress so please don’t take the chance... take them out first thing in the morning or in the evening.
8. The Great Shave
For heavy coated dogs and little ones prone to heat stress it can help to keep them cooler in the heat to shave a small landing strip on their underbelly. You can’t notice it unless they are laying on their back and it will help to cool their body temperature faster by laying on tiles or a cooling mat on hot days. Kmart have a brilliant and very affordable pet range available now which includes cooling mats and even cooling collars… here’s the link again in case you missed it: https://www.kmart.com.au/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/SearchDisplay?searchTerm=pet+cooling+bed&categoryId=&storeId=10701&catalogId=10102&langId=-1&beginIndex=0&sType=SimpleSearch&resultCatEntryType=2&showResultsPage=true&searchSource=Q&pageView=#.plp-wrapper.
9. Bitey Things
Nobody likes being eaten alive by the bitey crawly things in the summer heat…neither does your doggo. In bush and coastal areas the risk is higher again due to a nasty little critter called the tick. Fleas, though not quite so dangerous in nature, can still leave them scratchy and miserable and result in skin reactions for them and you as well if they make it inside your home. Here are some tips to help keep the little buggers away...
I am not a fan of chemical flea and tick treatments so try making your own. Ingredients such as white or apple cider vinegar, eucalyptus, lavender, peppermint, rosemary, and neem are a big help. You can try popping a few drops of essential oil in a spray bottle with 50% water and 50% vinegar and spraying their coat daily to stop them settling in (buggies hate the smell of the oils and vinegar). Remember to shake the bottle before use, as oils tend to sit on top of the water. If you want a more even distribution through the coat, try adding 3-6 drops of essential oil to some fractionated coconut oil and spray or work through the coat with your hands. Pup will have lovely soft locks as well as a smell quite repulsive to the biteys. For a 100% natural and organic solution try Bear and Kind’s Get Off My Back Bitey Shampoo (https://www.bearandkind.com/product-page/get-off-my-back-bitey-flea-shampoo). We will also be releasing a Bitey Balm flea and tick repellent very soon, also available at www.bearandkind.com.
Ingredients like eucalyptus oil are great as it will kill any flea eggs in the coat. If a spray is not your thing or you want to be extra safe, you can pop a few drops of neem, lavender or eucalyptus oil into their shampoo when bathing them. This works well in combination with the spray in between washes. A lot of people tout citronella and tea tree oils for this purpose. While they are effective at repelling fleas and ticks, they are just as effective at irritating your dog and causing reactions. I would avoid them to be on the safe side. As with any essential oil use sparingly…if used in high amounts they can be very unpleasant for dogs and downright toxic for cats. So less is more. I only use just a few drops of eucalyptus in my spray bottle… just enough to smell it and no more.
Garlic is another good solution to keep in the arsenal. Fleas hate the taste of garlic so a very small amount in feed daily often helps. Yes - garlic is actually safe for dogs, so long as not used in large amounts. A little fresh garlic fed at no more then ¼ clove per 5kg of bodyweight is fine. For dogs under 5kg give no more than 1/8 of one clove. Start adding to their food at least a month before summer kicks in.
For more ideas about keeping creepy crawlies away this summer visit:
https://www.dogsnaturallymagazine.com/best-home-remedies-fleas/. They have some great tips for controlling fleas naturally in your home.
Ticks can cause a nasty array of symptom including lethargy, fever, loss of appetite, stiffness in the joints, vomiting and diarrhoea and even seizures. Fortunately they can be avoided with many of the same ingredients that repel fleas, but if you get really unlucky, follow this link for step-by-step instructions on safe tick removal: https://www.betterpetsandgardens.com.au/pet-care/dogs/health-and-first-aid/removing-ticks-from-pets/.
10. Read the Signs
Heat stress is more than just feeling hot and uncomfortable, it can lead to serious consequences including rapid pulse, breathing difficulty, losing consciousness, and if not treated quickly, even death. Older dogs and flat-faced breeds are particularly vulnerable to heat stress and breathing difficulties. Here are some important signs to look for that indicate your furry friend may be suffering from heat stress:
Excessive drooling and heavy breathing
Restlessness or agitation
Pale or very red gums
Bright red tongue
If you notice any of these signs take these steps immediately:
Get him into shade or inside in a cool well-ventilated space
Get him drinking cool water… you can also help them by squirting some into the mouth with a squeezy bottle or syringe
Lay him on a cooling pad or towel wet with cool water or on the bathroom tiles
You can gently spray him with cool water, and pop them in front of a fan or in an air-conditioned space
Do NOT submerge him in cold water or attempt to reduce body temperature too fast
Do NOT give him ice…use cool not freezing cold water
Watch him carefully and always seek advice from your vet. Even if you think he is doing better, get him checked out anyway. Heat stress is dangerous enough, but you are also facing another problem that can be just as dangerous… dehydration. Your dog may require a drip to rehydrate his body and assist his full recovery. Please play it safe this summer… and if in any doubt, speak to your vet.
For more information about heat stroke in pets check out the RSPCA’s guide here https://www.rspcapetinsurance.org.au/pet-care/health/heatstroke-hyperthermia.