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What do you associate summer with? Juicy mangoes, delicious watermelons, flush yellow Amaltas trees, lazy weekend afternoons to name a few. For us pet parents, summer also means seeing our dogs in constant discomfort, incessant panting, excessive shedding, sudden eruption of skin-related problems and so on! As the temperatures continue to soar across the country, keeping our dogs comfortable and cool become one of our key priorities for the season.
Summers can be incredibly hard on dogs and especially those bred for colder climates such as Labradors, Golden Retrievers, Huskies German Shepherd, Saint Bernard among others. For such breeds, Indian summers with temperatures reaching upwards of 45 degrees can become intolerable and even life threatening in extreme cases, without proper care.
We have put together an easy to follow guide for all dog parents to help them beat the (scorching) heat so they can enjoy all the wonderful perks of this season with their fur-babies.
Here are some tested tips to keep your dog happy and healthy this summer.
In summers, your dog would find cool places around the house to rest and lounge around, i.e., bare floors, near the sofa, under the tables, in shades, etc. Ensure that he has easy access to these places. Place their beddings in different areas as per their convenience and ease. However, most dogs would prefer bare floors in summer over any type of cushioned beds.
Also, place multiple fresh water bowls around the house at all times. Keep your window and door blinds/curtains drawn at all times during the day.
Keep them in cool, air conditioned rooms as much as possible.
Walks are unavoidable, but in summers, heat is not. Change your routes and ensure that your dog doesn’t have to walk on the hot asphalt. It could cause blisters on their paws. Dog boots may be a good choice if your dog feels comfortable wearing them (though most dogs won't), but they will trap the heat. Dogs heat from the bottom up, so mind their paws. They also sweat from their paws.
Change the walk timings to early mornings and late evening/night so they don't have to be out and about during the extreme heat intervals.
Keep your dogs indoors or in shaded areas as much as possible. If your dog lives outdoors, it's time to bring him inside. Leaving your dogs outdoors in peak summer months could be life-threatening to them. If you can't bring your dog indoors for some reason, ensure they have an easy access to shaded spots where they can cool off. You can place small water-filled tubs for them to enjoy as well. Of course, access to clean drinking water at all times is an absolute must!
Grooming your dog regularly is even more essential during this time of the year to avoid excessive shedding, tick/flea bites, itchy skin and heat spots. If you have a breed with double or a heavy coat, make sure you keep their coat well-trimmed but NOT shaved. Shaving your dog's coat is a big no-no and a mistake many pet parents tend to make. You may think that fur makes summers difficult for dogs and cats, but it is their protective covering. Do not ever shave your dog’s coat in summer. You are making him prone to sunburn and insect bites. Below the fur, your dog’s skin is really soft and vulnerable, and if you shave it, it will only increase their chances of getting skin issues and make the summers even more unbearable for them.
Read more about the disadvantages of shaving your dog's coat and understanding regular versus excessive shedding here - Summer Shedding in Dogs: Causes, Diet Tips and Management.
In summer, avoid taking your dog out during the day. They are best left behind at home but ensure you leave the fan/cooler or AC turned on so they do not overheat in your absence. In addition, we also recommend placing multiple water bowls around the house.
If you're out with your dog during the day or even at night, never leave them behind in the car even for a few minutes.
It is extremely hazardous for humans too to sit in a parked car, which can overheat like a furnace. Even with a crack, it can get extremely hot. It is highly dangerous and may cost you your dog’s life if they are left unattended in a parked car. They can suffer a heat stroke or brain damage.
If you see an animal locked up in a parked car in summer, try to locate the owner as soon as possible and if they are not available, report the matter to the local police or the nearest animal welfare organisation.
Just like how extreme heat can affect our mood and make us cranky, would you blame your dog if they experience mood swings too and not want to cuddle with you? Respect their space and boundaries and teach this to your children for sure, as they may not understand this change in behaviour in your dog.
Dogs also tend to sleep more during this time of the year and may appear more inactive than usual. However, if your dog refuses to eat for more than 18-24 hours in addition to not wanting to do other activities that they like to do everyday such as going for walks, playing with you etc then visit your vet at the earliest.
As we know nutrition plays a vital role in keeping our fur-babies happy and healthy. In general, there are some foods that are cooling, and some that have a heating effect on the body. It’s important to keep this in mind while giving your dog her food.
Many dogs tend to avoid eating much during summer months and they may prefer more cooling foods such as fresh water fish (e.g. Rohu), novel meat options such as rabbit or duck and even eggs over fatty and heat-producing meats such as lamb, goat. You can also add fresh fruits such as deseeded watermelons and mangoes in small quantities. Diluted curd or unsalted/unsweetened buttermilk can also be given as an evening snack.
Be sure to check out our blog on summer diet tips for dogs to learn more about this topic.
Many pet parents love to see their furbabies in cute clothing and accessories. However, this is not the best time to play dress up!
Avoid unnecessarily dressing up your dog in summer. Remove that t-shirt or hoodie and let their coat breathe. It is advisable to also remove their collar belts, harnesses and leashes post walk. The heat may cause skin inflammation in some dogs.
You could use aloe vera gel, hemp seed balm/oil and other soothing ingredients for minor skin inflammation and itchiness.
Dogs don’t sweat like us; they pant to cool themselves off. And it may seem like they are panting normally though it may be a sign of overheating, leading to a possible heat stroke or dehydration.
Some of the common signs of heat stroke in dogs include excessive drooling & panting, vomiting, confusion/disorientation, fever, collapsing among others.
If you ever feel your dog might be having a heat stroke, contact/visit your vet immediately as it could be life-threatening to your dog.
Tick fever, parasite bites and parvovirus infections are in full swing in summer, thus protection becomes even more necessary. Keep your dog away from other dogs or animals who might carry fleas, ticks and other infections as much as possible. Avoid letting them go into heavy greenery and tall grasses to relieve themselves as chances of getting tick/flea bites in such areas are higher.
Check under their collars and harnesses for any ticks and fleas as well as in certain body parts where these insects tend to hide, such as under the paw, below the armpit, around the ears and the eyes, chest and tail areas. Conduct a thorough examination for any visible signs for tick/flea infestation and bite marks on their body at least once a week.
Keep mild and natural anti tick sprays handy to spray on your dog pre or post every long walk.
Contact your vet immediately if you see any signs of tick fever or severe skin inflammation.
Dogs such as, Boxers, Bulldogs, Frenchie and Pugs have small snub noses, making it hard to pant and cool off in summer. They can easily suffer from heat exhaustion or heat stroke if not taken care of properly. They require special care in summer.
If you are a parent to a brachycephalic dog breed, you need to stay extra vigilant and know the early signs of a heat stroke and dehydration in dogs.
Summer may be harsh for your furry friend but you can still make it fun with some summer friendly activities.
Cool off at a pool pupper party - Book a pool session (preferably indoor) at a nearest dog cafe/boarding. You can either book a private session with your family or join a pool party with other dog parents if your dog likes to socialise with other doggos and humans. It's best to choose a place based on recommendations from your friends or family or Google reviews to know what to expect at the place.
If you have a puppy, a senior dog or a dog who does not like a socialise, you can install your own inflatable pool at the garden, if you have the luxury of space and make a fun day out of it with your whole family!
If space is an issue, you can get a smaller inflatable pool for a terrace or a balcony or even a tub to enjoy with your furry-pal.
If using a public pool, always remember to clean off your dog with a mild dog shampoo and clean water post swimming to avoid contracting any skin infections.
Follow these simple tips to keep your dogs healthy in summer.
Have we missed out on any useful tips? Do share your recommendations and thoughts in the comments below.