Summer is here, the mercury is rising, and your old dog is definitely feeling it. When it’s hot outside, it’s especially important to protect senior pets from soaring temperatures. Older dogs have special needs, and as they age, they become more susceptible to heat stroke and heat exhaustion.
Here are our 5 favorite ways to help your senior dog beat the heat.
One Word: HYDRATION
If you can keep your older dog hydrated in the summer heat, you’ve won half the battle. Make sure they always have access to fresh, cool water. If their water bowl has been sitting out, check the temperature periodically and replenish with cold water if it gets warm. You can also throw a few ice cubes in there for good measure.
Add about ¼ cup of water to your dog’s kibble. Dry dog food typically falls short of how much moisture animals actually require in their diet, so this is an easy way to up their fluid intake. Plus, your pup will love the “gravy” this makes in their bowl.
Crank Up the AC
Your dog may have been fine outdoors in his prime, but in their golden years it’s important they always have easy access to an air-conditioned space. Even if you leave, keep the house as cool for your dog as you would for yourself if you were there (and wearing a fur coat).
Make sure your thermostat is always set at 76 degrees or cooler. If you don’t have air conditioning, get creative: set up a fan in front of a pan of ice, lay down a wet towel soaked in ice water for your dog to lie on, or place a few frozen gel packs inside the cover of their bed (where they can’t chew on it).
Cooling Foods Are Your Friend
Adding cooling foods to your dog’s diet is a great way to help them chill from the inside out. Plus, your pup will love the variety. Try swapping their regular rawhide, biscuits, or jerky strips out for cool slices of cucumber or apples. As an added bonus, these tasty treats are higher in nutrition and lower in calories than any processed treats you’ll find at the pet store, helping your older pup keep the pounds off – which is another great way to help them stay cool.
Add a tablespoon of coconut oil to their meals. This cooling oil will also give their skin and coat a healthy boost.
Walks are important for older dogs, helping to keep up their muscles mass and range of motion in their joints. But walking your senior dog in the dead of summer requires some strategic thinking to avoid the risk of overheating. If you’re used to walking them right after work, for example, wait an hour or so till the sun starts setting and the heat isn’t shimmering off the sidewalk.
Set your alarm clock 15 minutes early. This extra time will ensure you can fit in a cool early walk with your dog into your morning routine before the summer sun starts blazing.
Know Your Risk Factors
We know that older dogs are more sensitive to hot weather than younger pups, but there are several additional factors that can make your dog extra susceptible to heat stroke, including:
- Overweight dogs
- Dogs with dark fur– Their coats absorb heat more readily.
- Dogs with breathing problems– Dogs don’t sweat, but rather cool themselves down by panting. If your pup has trouble breathing, it’s harder for them to release heat this way.
- Snub-nosed dogs– Breeds with shorter snouts like bulldogs or pugs have smaller airways, making it harder for them to release heat when they pant.
Take thorough measures to keep these dogs cool when temperatures soar, and keep an extra eye out for any signs of overheating, which include heavy panting and/or drooling, rapid heartbeat, dark or red gums and tongue, trouble breathing, dizziness, weakness, and agitation. If you spot any of these signs, get your dog to a cool environment where they can relax, provide plenty of water, and try splashing water on their coat. Take them to the vet ASAP if symptoms don’t subside.
Bonus Tip: Try Pupsicles!
We love pupsicles, and so will your dog. These tasty treats are easy to make and great for keeping your pup cool (and entertained)! You can make these frozen treats in your standard ice trays. Here are a few of our favorite combos:
- Peanut butter + banana:Simply add 2 tablespoons peanut butter, half a banana, and 1 tablespoon water to a blender, pour the mixture into ice trays, and freeze for 4 to 5 hours.
- Chicken broth + blueberries:Pour low-sodium chicken broth into ice trays, and drop a few blueberries in the middle. Freeze for 4 to 5 hours.
- Watermelon + coconut milk:Blend one can of coconut milk plus flesh from a quarter of a watermelon. Pour into ice trays and freeze 4 to 5 hours.
As your pup enters their golden years, it’s harder and harder for them to get comfortable. And when you add soaring temperatures into the mix, it only gets worse. Just a few simple shifts will make a world of difference to your senior dog, helping them to stay cool, calm, and comfy all summer long.