The hot summer weather has been a challenging time for many dog owners, with lots of knowledge and preparation needed to make sure their four-legged friends have not suffered in the conditions.
Whether it is the risk of dehydration and sunstroke, the prospect of burning the pads of their feet on the baking hot pavements, the possibility of sunburn for breeds with very pale hair or the risks involved in splashing around in water that may contain poisonous algae (bad for humans, fatal for dogs), there has been much to watch out for.
Of course, clued-up owners will have been well prepared for all that. They will have sought to walk their dogs in the early mornings or evenings when it is cooler, taken water for the dog as well as themselves and been ready to douse them in it when they get home to cool off. Those walking in the countryside will also have been wise to check for ticks, which can spread Lyme disease.
All that may have been extremely useful in helping you and your dog negotiate the hot summer weather and some of that advice may yet be relevant over the coming weeks, not least in places where there is a lot of algae (sadly, this has become a notorious problem in Windermere, England’s largest lake). But as autumn approaches, other concerns will soon be arising.
It’s not as if the end of summer will bring freezing conditions the next day, but a month from now the days and nights will be the same length, with mornings in particular getting much colder as the sun rises later. For that reason, now may be the time to think about getting a thermal dog coat.
The most important factor in any decision to buy one is the type of dog you have. For example, it should be obvious that if you have a dog with a long, warm shaggy coat, it isn’t going to get very cold. If you have a St Bernard, a thermal coat will definitely not be necessary.
Writing for Pet Radar last year, vet Rebecca McMillan said the kind of dog that really needs a warm winter coat is the sort bred for a mild or hot climate. That can include some breeds that emerged from hot countries, such as Mexican hairless dogs, Chihuahuas and Chinese crested dogs.
Others are breeds more familiar in our own country and across Europe such as greyhounds, whippets, Yorkshire terriers and smooth-haired Dachshunds.
Essentially, the things to assess are whether a dog has short fur, is bred for warmer climates and is very old or young. Sometimes your dog will tell you by shivering or a reluctance to go outside. However, if that happens it’s because they have already suffered, so it’s better to pre-empt this by assessing the need by breed and age first.
For now, owners and dogs alike can enjoy the rest of the summer. But make sure your pet can enjoy the winter just as much by guaranteeing they are happy and warm when the cold weather arrives.