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Eight myths about keeping your dog cool when it’s hot, debunked

21 June 2023

From eating ice cubes to daily walks, wearing sunscreen to shaving fur
Make sure you know what’s fact and what’s fiction when it comes to cooling down your dog

As the UK heatwave continues, many Brits are looking for novel ways to keep their dogs cool. After all, if we’re enjoying a cold refreshing drink or ice lolly, why can’t our dogs?

With lots of myths and misconceptions for pet owners, experts at global pet brand PetSafe® debunk eight of the most common when it comes to keeping our dogs happy, hydrated and healthy when it’s hot.

Myth number 1: Don’t feed your dog ice cubes
Frozen treats are completely safe for your furry pals and will help to cool healthy dogs down, as long as ice cubes are a safe size so as to not pose a choking risk – small ice cubes and ice shavings are ideal. Alternatively, freeze his water bowl or put water or fresh treats inside a freezer toy to help keep him cool and entertained for longer. And add ice cubes to your pet’s water or make frozen treats to help cool them down more.

Myth number 2: Dogs don’t need sunscreen
When the weather is this sunny, we should all be wearing sun protection – including our dogs.

Their skin can burn just like ours and too much unprotected exposure to UV rays can lead to skin cancer, which is– the most common cancer found in dogs. Those with light skin and / or short or thin coats are particularly susceptible on their ears, noses and sparsely haired areas. Make sure you buy special dog sunscreens and sprays – some ingredients in ours are toxic to them.

Myth number 3: Dogs cool down by sweating through their paws
It’s widely believed that dogs can only sweat through their pads, but they do sweat elsewhere on their body. They mainly rely on panting to cool themselves. As the water in their mouth and tongue evaporates – just like human sweat helps to remove heat from the surface of the skin – hot air in their lungs is replaced with cooler air. Watch out though – excessive panting can lead to dehydration.

Myth number 4: You must walk your dog every day
When it’s hot outside, it’s okay not to walk your dog every day, but reduce their calorie intake accordingly as they’ll be using less energy. Swap physical exercise of walks for mental stimulation, with some fun enrichment games and toys.

If you do walk your dog, do it during the cooler parts of the day – in the very early morning and late evening – and stick to the shady side of the street to avoid hot pavements. Do the five-second tarmac test before – hold your hand down for five seconds, if it’s too hot for you, then it’s too hot for your dog’s paws. And take water and a bowl with you.

Myth number 5: Shaving your dog’s fur in the summer will help keep him cool
It’s often believed that shaving a dog is the equivalent of taking off a fur coat in summer, but that’s not the case for all breeds. For some, it actually helps keep them cool, allowing air to circulate over the skin and it also protects any pale skin underneath from sun exposure.

Those with double coats – such as Labradors, collies, Jack Russell Terriers and retrievers – will naturally shed hair in the summer to help stop them overheating. Long-haired breeds with an undercoat can have a trim but go easy with the scissors.

Myth number 6: Cool dogs down by covering them in a wet towel
Dogs lose heat by water evaporating from the body, so covering them with a wet towel can heat them up as it acts as an insulating layer.

So instead, lay down a wet towel or cooling mat for your pooch to lie on, give them an ice pack wrapped in a towel or fill a paddling pool with cold water to cool off their paws.

Myth number 7: It’s okay to leave dogs in a car, as long as the window is open
A car can quickly become as hot as an oven – even when the weather doesn’t feel that warm. When it’s 22oC outside, inside it could reach an unbearable 40oC within 30 minutes – and 47oC within an hour. Even with the window open.

Myth number 8: Cold water causes bloat in dogs
Contrary to popular belief, cold water isn’t actually bad for dogs – with any bloating dangers coming down to how quickly he drinks it – rather than its temperature – and how much air he swallows.
To help more reluctant drinkers stay hydrated when it’s hot, pet fountains are effective to increase water consumption. Dogs need 70 ml of water daily for every 1 kg of weight and, like humans, they should drink more when it’s hot.

PetSafe® Brand’s Rob Steele said: “There are lots of dog myths and misconceptions but, as a rule of thumb, when the weather’s hot and sunny, the best prevention of heatstroke and dehydration is keeping your dog inside and cool – regardless of their breed, age or coat type.

“Some types of dogs are more prone to it than others – including very large, old or young dogs, dogs with thick coats, and flat-faced breeds, such as Pugs and French Bulldogs. However, owners must remember that all dogs are in danger when it’s hot.

“Fortunately there are many ways that you can make them feel more comfortable and keep them healthier in the sun – simply by following some of these easy hints and tips – as well as spending some quality, enjoyable and safe time together.”

For further information visit uk.petsafe.net