As soon as we get a change in the weather to a hot day, yes I know we are in Wales, the phone starts going even crazier. Fortunately my regulars know that a planned dog grooming routine can help keep their dogs cool. A very short cut all over, is not always the solution to keep your dog’s temperature down, and may even do more harm than good.
“But he is panting really heavily!”
Dogs pant to release heat. the majority of dogs don’t sweat through their skin, but through the pads of their feet, dogs use this as a method to stay cool. If the panting is accompanied by heavy salivation, a deep red tongue, glazed expression, warm nose and feet pads, vomiting, diarohea, appearing unusually lethargic, or lack of response, then there is a risk of heat stroke and expert veterinary attention should be sought, not a groom.
Very old and very young dogs may be more susceptible as well as those on medication or with existing medical conditions. It can also be more common in breeds such as bulldogs, pugs and other breeds with similar faces.
“His coat is really thick he is sweltering“
In double coated breeds (those with an undercoat and topcoat such as German Shepherds, Collies, Retrievers) Regular grooming and coat maintenance is even more important. Their coats work in such a way to help protect the skin, keep them cooler in Summer and Warm in winter. For this to happen there needs to be adequate air circulation through the coat. This is not going to happen if the dead undercoat is matted and blocking it. (shown in image on left)
“My Bichon/ Westie /Shihtzu etc needs shaving”
Again the key is regular grooming to keep the coat in tip top condition. The secret to getting a suitable appointment, is to arrange them on a regular basis before the weather changes. Clipping any breed “down to the wood” increases the chances of the dog suffering from sunburn, if that isn’t bad enough, it can also lead to skin cancer in the same way it does in humans.
Keep your Cool
Whilst we are enjoying these couple of days of Welsh Summer, there are some other ways of keeping you and your dog cool. Take your walks early morning and later in the evening when its cooler. Find new areas where its mostly shady. Make sure there is always fresh water to hand ( dropping ice cubes in can be an option). Some manufacturers make coats that can cool and protect from heat, the whole dog journal article below reviews some of them. This is not a definitive list by any means, but these as well as a regular grooming regime throughout the year will help you and your dog keep your cool.