With summer just around the corner many of us are thinking about sun protection.
But it’s not just ourselves and families we need to keep safe in the sun – our dogs need to be considered too.
The sun can affect dogs’ well-being in a number of significant ways, such as the impact of their delicate paws being exposed to hot pavements.
Fortunately, experts have rallyed to help keep your dog safe and happy in the sun this summer.
ProDog Raw’s resident dog specialists; Alison Frost, ProDog Raw’s canine nutrition expert; and Kamal Fernandez, a seasoned dog behaviourist, have drawn up 12 tips to help protect your pooch in the sun – allowing you to enjoy its benefits without any concerns for man’s best friend.
1 Remember, some dogs will struggle more
According to canine nutrition expert, Alison Frost, some dogs are more vulnerable than others.
“It’s important to note that, as with humans, some dogs will naturally struggle more than others in the heat,” said Alison.
“Brachycephalic dogs, for example, have shortened snouts or faces which appear flat, meaning they have narrow nostrils, smaller airways, and will naturally find it difficult to breathe in warmer, more humid environments; if you’re the owner of a boxer, bulldog, cavalier King Charles spaniel, or similar, then you’ll need to keep a more diligent eye on your pooch as temperatures rise.
“Meanwhile, puppies will struggle more in the heat than adult dogs, along with those suffering from heart disease and dogs who are overweight. These dogs simply don’t tolerate heat as effectively. If you own a puppy, make sure they take their naps inside in a cool, shaded area.”
2 Always have water available
Some of the most important ways to help your dog stay safe and healthy in the sun are the most obvious.
For example, dog behaviourist Kamal Fernandez says that water should always be available.
If you’re relaxing in the sun, make sure there’s a dog bowl filled with water nearby.
3 Feed them cold, raw food
Alison’s most important piece of advice is to feed your dog raw, cold food in warm weather.
“There’s more moisture in raw meat as opposed to dry kibble, meaning it helps to hydrate your dog from the inside,” said Alison.
“It is significantly more hydrating and refreshing, whilst fulfilling all of your dog’s protein needs to fuel their energy – becoming lethargic in the heat is highly likely, so this is something you ought to prioritize.
“You also may notice your dog’s appetite dwindling in the heat. This is completely normal and, thankfully, is something that cold, raw food helps to address – it’s refreshing, not heavy to eat.”
4 Surprisingly, bone broth can be a fantastic hack
Meanwhile, Alison says that bone broths are a great option for dogs in the sun.
This might sound a little strange, as indulging in a bowl of broth doesn’t seem like the most refreshing option on a hot day, but it surprisingly is.
“Bone broth is filled with electrolytes which help to keep dogs hydrated,” said Alison. “You can also make frozen bone broth ice pops if you like, creating a fun snack for man’s best friend.”
Bone broth can also be served cold, making it even more refreshing.
5 Invest in cooling mats and jackets
Cooling mats and jackets can quickly help your dog cool down in the sun.
Similarly, if you’re seeking an easy, quick alternative, use wet towels to refresh your pooch.
“You can either have your dog lay on a wet towel or drape one over them; either way, this is incredibly cooling,” said Kamal.
6 Walk early in the day or late in the evening
Kamal says that it’s important to walk your dog early in the day or late in the evening, to avoid hot spells.
“Walking your dog in the heat will leave them feeling exasperated and possibly frustrated; you might think they’re being naughty when, actually, they’re just too hot,” said Kamal. “By walking them during cooler periods of the day, they can enjoy this exercise without overheating – as can you.”
7 Use the ‘hand on pavement’ trick
“Before taking your dog on a walk, use the simple ‘hand on pavement’ trick,” said Kamal.
“If you can place your hand palm-side down on the pavement without it feeling too hot, then it’s safe to walk your dog.
“Their paws are delicate and vulnerable, don’t burn them on hot tarmac. With that being said, avoid tarmac altogether on warm days as it heats up alarmingly quickly.”
8 Avoid strenuous exercise
Whilst walking is a must for dogs, Kamal warns that strenuous exercise on hot days isn’t a good idea.
“Avoid taking your dogs for runs or engaging in other intensive exercises in the sun, this could leave them feeling far too hot and flustered,” he said.
9 Understand the signs of heatstroke in dogs
Critically, Alison says that in order to protect our dogs, owners must understand the signs of heatstroke in man’s best friend.
This is severe and can leave your dog collapsing in the middle of a walk – treating heatstroke quickly is key to saving a dog’s life.
“Lay them on wet cold towels, and pour cool (not ice-cold) water onto them to help bring their temperature down, and contact your vet immediately for advice,” said Alison.
10 Have fun with paddling pools
“If possible, invest in a paddling pool for your back garden,” said Alison. “Being able to lay in cold water is a lap of luxury for dogs – they’ll definitely be thanking you.”
11 Never leave them in the car
For most, this goes without saying, but for those with any doubt, Alison emphasizes that you should never leave your dog in a warm car or humid conservatory.
“They need ventilation, especially on warmer days,” she said.
12 Try to keep them in the shade
“If your dog is in the garden, ensure there’s adequate shade,” said Kamal.
“If you don’t’ have any trees or plants to provide this, then consider using a parasol or large umbrella; this is also something you should consider if you’re planning to take your dog to the local beer garden – they shouldn’ t be sitting in direct sunlight for hours on end.”