pets, heatwave, cool

Help your pooch stay cool with these tips. Image:

Pooch heat alert: Keep your pet cool during a heatwave

The recent heat waves have made life difficult for man and dog. Here’s how to keep your pooch cool and identify possible heatstroke warnings.

pets, heatwave, cool

Help your pooch stay cool with these tips. Image:

The heatwaves sweeping through the country have made staying cool quite challenging. Even your poor pooch is suffering.

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To stay cool in this immense heat, one tends to get creative. Especially with load shedding shutting down aircons from time to time.

And while humans can rub ice blocks or stand in front of the freezer, it’s important to remember that if we’re feeling the heat, our pets are too.

Unlike people who sweat to cool down, dogs do not perspire. “Unlike sweating through their skin, like we do, they rely on panting and getting rid of excess body heat through their paws and nose,” Marycke Ackhurst, pet behaviour expert from Hill’s Pet Nutrition explains.  

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Heatstroke is a real danger and something to look out for. Image: Bruno Cervera

To help keep your pooch cool during the heat, Ackhurst shares some tips:

  • Stick to outdoor exercise or walks in the early morning or late evening when temperatures are lower, and make sure you have water with you for breaks in the shade.
  •  Check the heat of the pavement. If it’s too hot to comfortably place your hand on it for several seconds, it is too hot for your dog to walk on.
  •  Keep walks short as some dogs don’t know their own limits – use caution with exercise such as running and fetch as you may need to stop them from overdoing it.
  •  Keep your dog inside during the hottest time of the day with access to plenty of cold water.
  •  Make indoor time extra fun to help them use their energy in different ways. Why not play fetch with a ball down the passage or hide their favourite plush toys or treats in a small area and let them sniff them out? You could also freeze their food and place it in a puzzle toy to stimulate them. 

Small to medium dogs, such as short-nosed breeds, need extra care during hot periods.


Heatstroke is a real threat, and it’s important to know what signs to look out for in your dog.

According to Ackhurst, it is important to keep an eye out for the following:

  • Exaggerated panting (or the sudden stopping of panting)
  •  Rapid or erratic pulse
  •  Salivation, anxiety, or staring expression
  •  Weakness and muscle tremors or lack of coordination
  •  Convulsions or vomiting and collapsing 

If, worst case scenario, you do notice any of these signs, act immediately:

  • Move your dog to a cool, shady place
  •  Wet your dog with cool water or place them in a container filled with cool water to bring their body temperature down
  •  Fan your dog to promote evaporation. This will cool their blood, helping to reduce your dog’s core temperature
  •  Provide your dog with some cool water to drink
  •  Take your dog to your vet as soon as possible for further treatment – this is an emergency

Most importantly, if you notice any of these signs, do not apply ice to your pooch as this will constrict blood flow and discourage cooling.

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