As temperatures in the UK continue to soar, many Brits have been looking for novel ways to keep themselves cool – But what’s the best way to keep our furry friends cool?
With lots of contradictory advice surfacing online and on social media, PDSA Vet Lynne James has debunked some of the biggest myths when it comes to keeping dogs cool in a heatwave.
Lynne said “Keeping your pup cool is of the utmost importance at this time of year, as heatstroke is potentially fatal. Luckily, there are lots of ways you can keep your furry friend chilled in the heat that are safe for them, and fun for you both!
Myth #1 ‘Dogs can’t eat ice cubes’
“Posts go round on social media every summer claiming that the cold temperature of ice cubes can trigger a dog’s anterior hypothalamus to actually warm their body up, but this is untrue. As long as your pooch is healthy, providing a few ice cubes is a good way to cool them down.
“If your furry friend is small, or has a tendency to wolf down their food, ice shavings may be more suitable as they pose less of a choking risk. On the opposite end of the scale, fill a cereal bowl with water and freeze it; this will be too large to get hold of with their teeth, but they’ll be able to lick it, keeping them cool for longer. And if you’re still not sure ice cubes are the best option for your pup, you could freeze their water bowl before filling it with water, or cool their favourite toy instead.”
Myth #2 ‘Dogs cool down by sweating through their paws’
“It’s widely known that the only place that dogs can sweat is through their pads, but this isn’t actually the most effective way for them to cool down. They do regulate temperature through their paws very slightly, but it’s panting that helps them lose the most heat.
“Where human sweat helps to remove heat from the surface of the skin, dogs’ panting lets more air into their systems to help evaporate water from their mouths and tongues, replacing the hot air in their lungs with cooler air. Clever, huh?”
Myth #3 ‘Leaving the window cracked will keep your dog cool in the car’
“Some people think that leaving a dog in a car on a hot day is okay as long as they open a window, but it is still very dangerous – even if the car is parked in the shade. When it’s only 22 degrees outside, the temperature in a car can reach an unbearable 47 degrees within just one hour. The truth is, you shouldn’t leave a dog in a hot car for any amount of time, even with the window open.”
Myth #4 ‘Shaving your dog in the summer will help keep them cool’
“Given that humans shed layers of clothing when the weather gets hot, you might assume that shaving a dog is the equivalent of taking off their fur coat. But not all dog’s coats work in the same way. For some dogs, their fur actually helps keep them cool, allowing air to circulate over the skin. Furry friends with double coats will naturally shed hair in the summer to help stop them overheating, so they don’t require shaving, but they will need regular grooming to help clear their coat of any loose hair.
“Dog fur also protects any pale skin underneath from sun exposure, so shaving your pup could even increase their risk of sunburn. You can give long-haired pooches with an undercoat a trim, but otherwise it’s best to stay away from the scissors.”
Myth #5 ‘Wrapping your dog in a cold wet towel is the best way to cool them down’
“Dogs lose heat by water evaporating from the body, so covering them with a wet towel can actually heat them up as it acts as an insulating layer. Instead, lay down a wet towel or cooling mat for your pooch to lie on, or fill a paddling pool with cold water so they can cool their paws.”