Summer is a great time to enjoy your garden with your furry friend, but it's important to take extra care to keep your older dog safe in hot weather. Older dogs are more prone to heatstroke, dehydration, sunburn, and other health problems caused by high temperatures and sun exposure. They may also have less energy and mobility than younger dogs, making it harder for them to cope with the heat.
Here are some tips on how to keep your older dog safe in your garden in hot weather:
- Provide plenty of water and shade. Your dog may not be able to tell you when they're thirsty, so it's important to make sure they always have access to fresh, clean water. A large bowl of water in a shady spot is a good option. You can also add some ice cubes to the water or make some frozen treats for your dog to enjoy. You should also provide your dog with a shady spot where they can rest and cool down, such as under a tree, a parasol, or a covered area. Avoid leaving your dog in a greenhouse, conservatory, shed, or car, as these can quickly become ovens in the sun.
- Avoid walking your dog during peak hours. Even though dogs need exercise, it's important to avoid walking your older dog during the hottest part of the day, usually between 11am and 3pm. Instead, walk them early in the morning or late in the evening when it's cooler. You should also avoid walking them on hot pavements, as they can burn their paws. You can test the pavement by placing your hand on it for five seconds. If it's too hot for your hand, it's too hot for their paws. If you have to walk your dog during peak hours, use booties or socks to protect their paws.
- Use pet-safe sun cream. Just like humans, dogs can get sunburned too, especially if they have white or light-coloured fur, or exposed parts of their skin, such as the tips of their ears and nose. To prevent sunburn, you can use pet-safe sun cream on these areas, and reapply it regularly throughout the day. You can ask your vet for advice on which products are suitable for your older dog. Avoid using human sunscreens, as they may contain ingredients that are toxic for dogs.
- Check your dog for signs of heatstroke. Heatstroke is a life-threatening condition that can affect dogs of any age, but older dogs are more vulnerable to it. Heatstroke occurs when a dog's body temperature rises above 41°C (106°F) and they are unable to cool down. Some of the signs of heatstroke include heavy panting, drooling, lethargy, collapse, vomiting, or seizures. If you suspect your older dog has heatstroke, you should move them to a cool place, wet their fur with cool water (not cold), and contact your vet immediately.
- Pick the right plants. Some plants are potentially toxic to dogs if ingested, such as lilies, foxgloves, lily of the valley, tulips, and daffodils. You should remove these plants from your garden or keep them out of reach of your older dog. You should also beware of thorns on plants and hedges, especially if they're at your dog's eye level. If you suspect your older dog has eaten a poisonous plant, contact your vet immediately.
- Look out for slugs and snails. Slugs and snails are not only annoying pests that eat your plants, but they can also infect your older dog with lungworm, a dangerous parasite that can cause serious health problems. To keep your older dog safe from slugs and snails, you should avoid using slug pellets that can be toxic to dogs. Instead, you can use barriers such as copper tape, eggshells, soot or slug traps to deter them from your garden.
Here are some additional tips to help your older dog stay safe in hot weather:
- Groom your dog regularly. Older dogs may have more difficulty grooming themselves, so it's important to help them out. Regular brushing will help to remove excess hair and keep your dog cool. You can also use a damp cloth to wipe down your dog's fur.
- Give your dog plenty of opportunities to cool down. You can do this by providing them with a kiddie pool to swim in, or by letting them run through sprinklers. You can also wet their fur with cool water.
- Avoid strenuous activity. Older dogs are more susceptible to heatstroke, so it's important to avoid strenuous activity during hot weather. Instead, focus on short, gentle walks or playtime in the shade.
- Keep your dog hydrated. Make sure your dog always has access to fresh, clean water. You can also add some ice cubes to their water bowl.
- Take your dog's age into account. Older dogs may not be able to tolerate hot weather as well as younger dogs. If you're unsure about whether or not it's safe for your dog to be outside, err on the side of caution and keep them inside in a cool, comfortable place.
Monitor your dog for signs of heatstroke. Heatstroke is a serious condition that can be fatal. If you notice any of the following signs, contact your veterinarian immediately:
- Heavy panting
By following these tips, you can help your older dog stay safe and comfortable in your garden in hot weather, and enjoy some quality time with them outdoors. Remember to always consult your vet if you have any concerns about your older dog's health or well-being.