Keeping pets cool in the summer: Pete the Vet on TV3’s Ireland AM

To watch this week’s video, click on the link at the foot of this page.

keeping pets cool in summer

With the recent warm sunny weather, the risk of overheating in pets is a serious issue.

High risk situations for overheating

The most important aspect is that pet owners – especially dog owners – need to avoid high risk situations.
These include:

  • Leaving dogs alone in cars at any time, even with the windows open
  • Leaving dogs alone in a glassed area such as a conservatory
  • Leaving dogs in a yard with no shade or water
  • Travelling with dogs in an enclosed space (eg the boot)
  • Exercising dogs in the full heat of the day

Grooming a pet can help keep them cool

One simple step that can be taken for dogs that have thick coats is to have them professionally groomed
I brought in a Cocker Spaniel Millie who was groomed last week by Brayvet’s groomer, Sophia Kinsella. Here’s how she looked before she had her hair cut.

I have also copied a few photos of before and after views of dogs groomed by Martha, our groomer at GoreyBrayVet, to give a taste of what can be done to different breed types. You can see the pictures at the foot of this post.

Professional grooming can be pricey – it costs from €40 to 60 to have a dog like Millie fully groomed to show standard but it can be difficult to do it properly yourself

You can do a certain amount to make a dog’s coat lighter using implements from a pet shop like Maxizoo

  • Rake comb €14.99
  • Slicker brush €13.99
  • Furminator cutting comb €34.99
  • The Dyson Groom tool available online

Products that help pets stay cool

There are other products that can be useful to keep dogs cool:

  • A cooling mat €29.99 – this contains gel which makes it cool and pleasant for a dog to lie on
  • An expandable water bowl €12.99 – flattens down then unfolds to create a full size bowl – handy for walks
  • A fabric water bowl – similar idea – €13.99
  • A water bottle designed to be portable €11.99
  • Carry a supply of water and a drinking bowl with you whenever you are out with your pet, so that you can offer regular top ups throughout the day.
  • Also swimming is a great way of keeping dogs cool and there are some toys designed for use on the water
    e.g. Lighthouse toy that floats – €15.00

Other tips to keep dogs cool

  • Exercise in the early morning or evening, never in the full heat of the day
  • Go to the beach so that they swim instead of running – cooler
  • Feed a little less food in the summer – the digestive processes produce heat inside the body

What to do if your pet gets heat stroke

A study last year showed that only 38% of dogs died when cooled by the owner, compared to 61% that died if taken to the vet without being cooled by their owner first.  The cooling needs to be done carefully for optimal effect: it isn’t just a case of chucking a bucket of cold water over an overheated dog.

Seven key steps to treat an overheated dog

Here are seven key steps that owners should take if they think their dog is suffering from heatstroke.

  1. Telephone your vet so to arrange for your dog to be seen as an emergency
  2. Take your dog away from the heat source into a cool environment
  3. Cool your pet down quickly in the correct way
  4. Use lukewarm water: cold water or ice will cause constriction of the superficial blood vessels in the skin, which paradoxically may result in a reduced ability for the dog to lose body heat through convection.
  5. As well as standing the dog in water, or hosing down with water, cover the animal with towels soaked in lukewarm water
  6. Place the damp dog in an airstream of some kind to maximise heat loss by convection and radiation e.g. vets often use standing fans to help to cool dogs down.
  7. For owners in practice when dealing with an overheated pet, this may mean pouring buckets of water or a hose over a dog, then draping them with soaked towels while driving them to the vet, with the car windows partially open to create a breeze

Finally, protect white pets from sunlight

Dogs generally have thicker fur, and thicker skin, so they are not too prone to sunlight problems
However cats with white ears and noses are very prone to sunburn and subsequent skin cancer, so use a total sunblock
Some white dogs roll on their back and bask in the sun: they also will benefit from sun block on the hairless areas of their underbelly
Choose one designed for pets, or alternatively, a hypoallergenic product designed for babies

Before and after photos of dogs groomed by Martha at GoreyBrayVet

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