AS temperatures remain high, Dogs Trust, the UK’s largest dog welfare charity, is offering top tips to help owners make sure dogs can stay safe and happy in the sun and keep cool during lockdown.
The charity is advising dog owners how they can keep cool – indoors as well as outdoors – and prevent them from overheating as the days get hotter.
The charity advises:
Avoid walking or doing activities either indoors or outdoors with your dog at the hottest times of the day, so early morning or later in the evening is often best.
Always take plenty of water with you when out with your dog and make sure they have access to fresh water at home at all times.
Tarmac can get very hot in the sun – check it with your hand before letting your dog walk on it so they don’t burn their paws. Try the ‘seven-second test’ – if it’s too hot for your hand, it’s too hot for your dog’s paws
If you need to take your dog out in the car, even if travelling a short distance, avoid travelling during the hottest times of the day and never leave your dog in a car on a warm day. Not even with the window open.
Dogs Trust says that having fun with your dog indoors can be just as stimulating as a long walk, but owners still need to be aware that they need to make sure their dogs stay cool indoors too, so choosing the coolest room in the house, staying out of direct sunlight, always having fresh water available and making sure your dog has somewhere cool to relax and sleep.
To help owners keep their dogs entertained whilst we are all spending more time at home, Dogs Trust has come up with eight fun ways to have fun with a cardboard box and tubes (like those you’d find in a toilet or kitchen roll).
The paw-fect figure 8: Get two boxes and set them out a little distance apart. Hold your dog’s treats or a favourite toy in one hand and slowly start to move them in a figure of eight around the two items, swapping the reward into your other hand at the centre point. One arm will guide your dog around the item to the left and the other arm will guide your dog around the item to your right. Repeat several times until you’ve got the movement smooth and well-rehearsed!
Digging deep: Shred or scrunch up newspaper or any paper items and pop them in an empty box. Drop in some treats or toys, and watch your dog dig away!
Paws-up: Can you get them to put their front feet on the box? Their back feet? Can you get them to run round to the left, to the right? Can smaller dogs sit in the box? Think outside of the box and we’re sure you won’t be able to contain yourself with all this fun!
Bowling balls: Create a 10-pin bowling alley with spare kitchen roll tubes. Have a competition and see how many pins you can knock down vs. your dog!
Tunn-els of fun: Cut the sides of a few boxes and line them up to make your very own DIY tunnel. Encourage your dog to go through with the promise of treats or their favourite toy at the end of the tunnel!
Jog your dog’s memory: Lay out multiple boxes in a semi-circle and pop a treat in one of them, making sure your dog is watching. Hold up a sheet to block your furry friend’s vision, drop and then see if they remember which box the treat was in! Repeat the game and change the box with the treat in, see how many times they get it right!
Snoot challenge: next level – remember the original snoot challenge where you had to make a circular shape with your hands and wait for your pooch to run up and put their nose through the hole? Building from this, cut a hole out in your box and see if you can get your dog to poke their nose through it! *boop*
Teach your dog to read: for starters write different words (e.g. sit, down, paw) on different boxes that you want your dog to learn. Say the word that’s on the specific box in front of them, and ask them to do what the word says. When your dog does as you’ve asked, reward them with a tasty treat and repeat several times until your dog has associated the new word, with the specific box!
Dogs Trust Veterinary Director, Paula Boyden, says:
“There are so many things we can do to make sure our dogs stay happy and healthy in hot weather, but it is crucial we keep a close eye on them, even if we are playing indoors as many of us are at the moment.
“If you want to spend time in your garden with your dog, make sure they have plenty of shade and if they have shown they are comfortable around water, introduce them carefully to a shallow paddling pool in the shade.
“If you do need to head out in the car with your dog, please be very careful. As little as twenty minutes can prove fatal if a dog is left alone in a car on a warm day.
“Many people still believe it’s OK if the windows are left open or they’re parked in the shade, but the truth is, it’s not and we strongly advise that dog owners never leave their dog in a car on a warm day, even if it feels cool outside.”
If you see a dog in a car in distress, Dogs Trust advises that members of the public call 999. Signs of a dog suffering from heatstroke include excessive panting, heavy salivation, vomiting or diarrhoea, lack of co-ordination or loss of consciousness.
We understand dog owners are anxious to ensure their four-legged friends are being well looked after and exercised in these difficult times, while we all stick to the government advice on each of the four nations.
While in England you can now go out to exercise as much as you like, please remember to keep your distance from other dog walkers , keep your dog on a lead and think about going out at a time of day when it might be a bit less busy.
Of course, some may need to use dog walkers, who are prioritising key workers – just be sure to hand your dog over in space large enough to maintain social distancing and to wash all equipment after your pooch returns.
For more information and advice, see www.dogstrust.org.uk