If you read our article earlier this week you’re already aware of the dangers of heat in the summer – if not click here to read about How to Tell if Your Dog is Overheating. Read on to find some key ways to prevent it.
Be aware of the weather that you’re adventuring in. While that afternoon sun is great for relaxing on the beach, it’s not so great for when you’re working hard on the trail. Early morning and late evening are often the coolest times of day. Not only is time of day important but when it is humid out your pup will have a harder time regulating and cooling gear may not function as intended.
Check the ground temperature. We often remember to check the pavement before we take our pups for a walk in the city but what about on the trail? If you’re on a rocky trail those rocks can be just as hot as pavement in the city! Check the temperature of the ground with your hand – if it feels hot to the touch chances are it’s too hot for your pups paws too.
Bring plenty of water. We can’t stress enough the importance of staying hydrated on the trail. Every time you need a drink you should be offering your pup a drink as well. If you have to be out when it’s hot consider freezing your water bottle so your water doesn’t become warm on your trek. If your dog doesn’t normally like to drink a lot consider adding a little beef or chicken broth (preferably homemade) to their water to encourage drinking. If using store bought broth be careful how much you add as you don’t want your dog to take in too much salt.
Take a break in the shade. If you’re sweating chances are your dog is too. Take a quick break in the shade and enjoy the scenery around you. This will allow your pup an opportunity to cool down and make sure that they don’t get too hot. Don’t have any shade on your trail? Consider bringing shade for your dog – the Alcott Mariner Shade Canopy is a quick and easy set up and in a pinch could work for humans as well.
Offer some cooling treats. Not many pups will say no to a pupsicle or some doggy ice cream. These may not be the most convenient on the trail by you can keep one in a cooler in your car for the end of your trek. These can be found at most local pet stores or you can make your own. Click here for a few Quick and Easy Dog Ice Cream and Pupsicle recipes.
Consider cooling gear. There are many different styles and brands of cooling gear on the market and every dog needs something a little different. Here is a quick run down on the ones we’ve received recently:
- Hurtta Cooling Vest – Covers the heart and chest so ideal for dogs with thicker fur/not looking for full body coverage, light colours to keep heat away, dip in cold water and wring dry for use, excellent results when our double-coated Trail Tester and a short haired Trail Tester used it on a 32C/90F hike, easy to re-wet when on the trail
- Kurgo Dog Core Cooling Vest – Full body coverage, reflective properties and light colour help deflect the suns heat, dip in cold water and wring dry for use, great results for our double-coated Trail Tester who took it on a strenuous hike, moderately easy to re-wet on the trail
- Ruffwear Core Cooler – Cools the core under body area, dip in cold water and wring dry for use, only works with specific Ruffwear products, difficult to re-wet on the go due to location
- Chilly Dogs Soaker Robe – Full body robe, micro terry cloth material will not absorb as much water as Hurtta, Kurgo, or Ruffwear, immerse in water or spray to wet, easy to re-wet on the go, not ideal for the trail but would be useful for areas where not exposed to debris
One thing most cooling gear has in common is that they are evaporative cooling – this means that you need to make sure you are bringing enough water with you to keep wetting it throughout your adventure. Additionally, in high humidity your cooling gear will not function at peak performance. Alternatively you can soak and freeze a bandana. Please note this works best when the bandana is close to your pups skin so if you have a fluffy puppy you will need to make sure it can get down in between the fur.
Watch for signs of over heating. More often than not your pup is pretty good at letting you know they’re overheating, you just need to know what to watch for. Key early warning signs include:
- Stressed out
- Seeking shade or coolness
- Increased thirst
- Weakness or anxiety
- Increased heart rate
If these signs are missed it can progress to:
- Stress diarrhea
- Red gums or pale gums (indicates shock)
- Blue gums (visit your vet IMMEDIATELY)
- Respiratory distress
- Blood in vomit or diarrhea
- Ataxia (walking drunk)
- No urine output
- Respiratory or cardiac arrest
Bonus tip: Keep your pet groomed. This does not mean shaving your dog! Dogs with double coats are able to regulate their temperature the best with their double coat intact. What this means is do what’s best for YOUR dog. If they have long hair make sure they don’t have mats or tangles. If they have a double coat keep up with your regular maintenance so that their coat can do its job.
Disclaimer: The advice we offer above is based on our own personal experiences, research and talking to professionals but every dog is unique and what works for one may not work for another. If you have any specific concerns about your dog please talk to your vet.
Huge thank you to our friend @emma_brat for providing us the technical knowledge on signs of overheating.