Normally, when Summer kicks into gear I don't know about you but I feel a jolt of excitement. The warmer weather almost makes the days feel a little more hopeful and you can't help but wake in a good mood.
However, not all dog owners, or dogs, feel the same because the heat can bring with it a host of problems, especially for dark coated, long haired and very young or older dogs. Even certain dog breeds will suffer more than others.
Here are tried and tested 5 ways to help you prevent dog heat stroke and help your dog cope with the summer heat.
Make sure your dog has access to a cool spot in the home
Giving your dog free access to find a spot that suits them both during the day and at night will allow them to regulate their temperature and keep cool.
Consider investing in a dog cool mat, cooling bandana or even jacket if need be - whatever it takes. Some dog owners also recommend a paddling pool or sprinkler at home.
The reason it is so important for a dog's temperature to be regulated is to help them avoid hyperthermia, which can lead to heat stroke because the dog's temperature has increased and the body cannot regulate. All of this can impact on how a dog's body and organs function.
One of my dogs, Christopher, can often be found in our downstairs loo which it turns out is the coolest room in the house (literally). In fact, we often know he's there because he shuts the door himself so he can stretch out. Conversations like 'where's Chris?' and 'have you checked the loo?' are said more often than I could ever have predicted.
Prepare for summer with a trip to the groomers
If your dog has a long coat, prepare for summer with a trim. Your dog's hair should never be so short skin is exposed, that brings about another set of problems, such as sunburn, but a trim could help if your dog has a thick or longer coat.
My dogs are already short coated, so I always give them a thorough grooming session to strip out as many loose hairs as possible and dampen coats along their backs and under their bellies allowing them to dry naturally, keeping them cool until it does.
Avoid day time walks
You may be tempted to enjoy the sunshine with your dog by your side but remember, your dog not only risks heat stroke by exercising, even gently, his pads are also at risk of burning on hot pavements.
Lucky for you with the summer heat comes light mornings and longer evenings so you can enjoy a summer stroll at either end of the day and keep a bottle of water handy while you're out and about for safety.
Make sure your dog has a fresh supply of cool water
With three dogs, I put extra bowls of water down around the home during the summer months for them (and our cat). When I feel they need to get some extra water, I pretend the bowl is a fountain dripping water in from above - I don't know why, but the fountain effect never fails to get their interest.
If you think your dog is too hot and may be verging on heat stroke, make sure you give your dog cool (but not cold) water and speak with your vet.
Never leave your dog in a hot car
It may sound obvious to some, but to others, it may not be. Some dog owners risk it thinking 'I'm only going out for 5 minutes' but it is not worth the risk - seriously.
If the weather is already warm or temperatures are set to rise, please leave your dog at home. Give them access to a cool room, fresh water and leave them to settle while you run errands.
A recent test at Stanford University discovered that even if it’s only 72 degrees outside, a car’s internal temperature can reach 116 degrees within an hour - effectively, your car will act as a greenhouse to your dog.
Even if you can cope with the heat, remember, how a dog heats up and gets cool is very different to humans.
Dogs die in hot cars, please don't let them suffer.