Six top tips to help keep pets cool at night.
While humans can easily regulate their body temperature, for dogs, it’s not quite as simple as kicking off the duvet. So, if you’re struggling to sleep in the heat, spare a thought for our furry friends who also have a little extra insulation to contend with!
Melanie Sainsbury - Veterinary Education Manager at Natures Menu, Europe’s leading raw pet food manufacturer - shares her top tips to help keep your canine friends cool throughout the night.
Limit evening activity
Establish an evening routine that’s calming and relaxing to keep your dog’s body temperature down. Try to keep physical activity to a minimum and make sure your dog can wind down at the end of the day. You can supplement their dinner with frozen snacks – like carrots, broccoli, or boiled chicken – to help your pet stay hydrated and regulate their body temperature before bed. Go one step further and fill a frozen Kong with Natures Menu cans or pouches for a cooling snack – just be sure to supervise mealtimes if you do!
Bear in mind that many dogs have a reduced appetite in the heat, and some may even go down to just one meal a day in the summer months. Try to feed them at cooler times of day, such as early morning or late evening.
Location, location, location
Make sure your dog’s sleeping arrangements are as comfortable as they can be for a cool night’s sleep. A well-ventilated room with a tiled floor for them to lie on is perfect. If that’s not an option, consider laying out damp towels or cooling mats or filling a hot water bottle with cold water to keep your pooch from overheating in the night. Of course – always take care with dogs that have a tendency to chew!
Think about fans
Fans are a great option to help keep things cool but can pose problems. Introduce them carefully and under supervision first to make sure your dog isn’t going to be frightened by the sound or movement. Ensure they’re also placed out of reach of inquisitive pups to avoid any midnight mishaps. For added chill, freeze water in soft drink bottles and place these in front of a running fan to circulate cold air.
Ice with that?
Ensure your pets have access to plenty of fresh water throughout the night, adding ice cubes to the water if it’s particularly hot and humid. Consider using a ceramic or clay water bowl which stay cooler than metal or plastic and top up regularly.
Keep your pup well-groomed
Make sure your dog’s fur is clean, detangled, and brushed regularly before bedtime. Clean hair moves around more easily, letting air through to cool the skin underneath. Long or curly coats need regular trims to prevent matting. For owners of double coated breeds, if you’re concerned that a clip might change the colour of your dog’s fur on regrowth, consider speaking to your groomer about a belly clip which can help to cool the body and hide any changes in fur regrowth.
Recognise the symptoms of heatstroke
There is no general ‘safe’ temperature for dogs as all breeds are different, and humidity can make it difficult for a dog to cool down, even at lower temperatures. Never let your dog sunbathe – no matter how much they may enjoy it! – and take care with darker coloured dogs as they’ll absorb heat more readily.
A normal, healthy temperature for a dog ranges between 38.3 and 38.7 degrees Celsius. Some dogs are more susceptible to overheating than others, particularly those with long or thick coats, or those that are very young or old, have existing medical conditions that impact their breathing, or are flat-faced breeds such as Pugs, Boston Terriers, and Boxers.
For dogs that struggle to keep cool, consider wetting their coat to help regulate their body temperature. Always bear in mind that some dogs do not like being sprayed with a hose – and if they get stressed, this can actually make them hotter! Instead, use a spray bottle filled with cold water or an old flannel soaked in cool water, wrung out over the coat. Alternatively, cool jackets and cool neckerchiefs are widely available at pet supplies.
In hot weather, keep an eye out for the symptoms of heatstroke – even after the sun goes down – including heavy panting, excessive drooling, lethargy or drowsiness, vomiting or collapsing. Contact your nearest vet if you have any concerns.