With average temperatures often exceeding 35 degrees, Australian summers are no joke. The heat can be challenging for people, but spare a thought for dogs who have a reduced ability to sweat and keep themselves cool. To ensure your dog gets through the season as comfortably as possible, ADVANCE veterinarian, Dr Fiona Patterson, shared her top 5 methods of preparing dogs for hot weather.
Give Your Dog's Coat Some TLC
It's natural to assume that clipping long coats for summer will take some of the heat off, but Patterson actually advises against it. "A dog's coat is designed to help keep them cool in summer and warm in winter. [The] layers of [their] coat act like insulation," she says. Instead of clipping, Dr Patterson says it's important "to keep a dog's coat brushed and free of tangles [to help] support a healthy skin and coat".
Also, Australia's unique climate puts a lot of pressure on dogs, so their nutritional needs differ from those of their overseas counterparts. The differences are most stark in summer when it's hotter and drier and animals are exposed to more UV radiation due to the hole in the ozone layer above Australia.
Your dog's coat and skin are their first line of defence against the effects of all those nasties. So, to help keep them nice and healthy, it's a good idea to choose wet and dry dog foods that are high in zinc and omega 3 and 6 fatty acids. A quality Australian-made pet food is most likely to meet those criteria, and all ADVANCE dog foods certainly do.
Up Their Water Intake
All dogs need ready access to fresh, clean water 24/7 every day of the year, but they need more water during warm weather. So, during summer, it's a great idea to add extra water stations around your property to ensure your dog's always going to be well-hydrated. On really hot days, Dr Patterson suggests topping your dog's water bowls up with ice cubes to keep them cooler for longer.
"Also, consider adding wet pet food to your dog's diet as a way for them to gain additional dietary moisture," she says. The ADVANCE pet food range includes wet food options in cans, pouches and trays, so dogs can enjoy a nourishing meal whatever the format. Dr Patterson says that feeding your dog both wet and dry food encourages a healthy body condition and supports urinary tract health.
Embrace the Shade
As temperatures start to rise, it's important to create places of refuge for your dog. "Ensure there are lots of shady, cool spots in the garden for pets to seek respite from the heat, [or] bring the pets indoors," says Dr Patterson. In addition, she recommends "walking in the cooler parts of the day such as the early morning or evening".
Stock Up On Cooling Products, or DIY Some With Tasty, Australian-made Pet Food
To help keep your dog cool come summer, Dr Patterson says to "use air conditioners and fans indoors and draw curtains". Dogs will naturally seek out cooler surfaces like tiles to lay on, but if carpet and floorboards dominate your home, you can purchase things like cooling mats, vests, and bandanas. Alternatively, DIY a cooling mat by wetting a towel and laying it on the floor.
"Another idea is to fill a Kong dog toy with ADVANCE canned food, then freeze it. Offer it to your dog and they'll be occupied for ages licking out the food - [it's] great entertainment on a hot day," says Dr Patterson.
Choose Quality Dog Food and Dish it Out in the Right Quantities
Overweight pets are at an increased risk of heatstroke. In the lead-up to the summer months, Dr Patterson recommends keeping a closer eye on your pet's body condition and meal portions.
"Measure portion sizes - don't estimate them - and adjust feeding amounts to maintain a healthy body condition," she says. "ADVANCE Australian-made pet food dry packs have a body condition guide on them. This five-point body condition scoring chart can help you assess if your dog is underweight, overweight, or ideal. If you monitor your dog's body condition on an ongoing basis, you can always make slight adjustments to the amount of food fed. Also consider ADVANCE Healthy Weight products that have a reduced fat content to help restrict weight gain when fed as directed, but still taste great!"
Summer Dog-prep Checklist
Prepping your dog for the summer months is as simple as:
- Keeping their coat tangle-free (don't trim it)
- Choosing Australian-made dog foods that are high in zinc and omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, so your pooch has the right nutrition for the Aussie climate and their skin and coat is better able to protect them from the summer elements
- Giving them more access to water, perhaps with icecubes, and including wet dog food in their diet
- Providing them with plenty of shade and walking them during the cooler parts of the day
- Providing them with cool surfaces to lay on (with a cooling mat if needed) and toys stuffed with frozen dog food to play with
- Keeping their weight under control by feeding them the right amount and using a low-fat dog food if needed
And as always, if you're after more tailored advice for your pet, consult your trusted vet and for more information on the ADVANCE petfood range head to their website.