Got to be honest, I’ve really appreciated the summer weather we’ve been having over the past week or so (forgetting the horrifying realisation that this is ultimately due to Global Warming); It’s been lovely to walk outside in a t-shirt without freezing half-to-death, & leaving my coat in the car at work – the little life pleasures I guess. And the old woman in me has appreciated drying my clothes on the line outside (because let’s face it, the clothes dry smelling so much nicer!)
As a first time dog owner though, I’d never really given much thought to how my four-legged friend copes in the heat; I’ve obviously heard the horror stories about people leaving their dogs in the car on a hot day – but I’m not that stupid! But how is this glorious weather (that will hopefully stay a while) affecting my Copper – and how can I help him out a little bit more than I am doing. And I say this because the weekend scared me a little – I’ll start with a tad bit of background about the day…
So, Saturday we obviously had glorious sunshine – I even managed a cocktail in the sunshine *oops*.
Copper got his morning walk as normal at about 7am – so it was nice and cool at this point; he got to run around the park as usual off his lead (there aren’t many dogs awake at this time so it’s a great time to walk him & give him some freedom).
Then I did an afternoon walk with him at around 1pm ish – and at this point it’s pretty hot outside, but Copper is acting pretty normal; running around like a big goofball, jumping up at strangers, trying to steal ice cream from passing children – you know, the usual! I did notice him panting a bit, but I just thought it was because of how energetic he was being. But the worrying part for me was that he was still heavily panting an hour after we got back whilst he was lying on the sofa (in a cool room) – and I mean heavily panting!
He could have been panting for many different reasons. As I initially thought was the case, dogs pant after/during exercise because they can’t physically sweat like we can; they pant to circulate the air needed to cool themselves down – so since Copper is incredibly energetic, he often pants a lot after running around the park, but he stops after about 10 minutes being at home. So with him still panting an hour later on Saturday, I got concerned & phoned the vets. They advised me that he could be suffering from overheating, and gave me a few things to try out with Copper.
What did work quite well was covering him in a damp (cool) towel, opening the window to let air in the house & obviously giving him access to water as per usual. He seemed to cool down a bit after about 15 minutes & then he was pretty much back to normal – but I’m obviously now terrified of taking him outside in the sun (oh the life of a dog owner). So I’ve started looking into things to prevent heat stroke moving forwards…
I’ve bought a portable water bowl for Copper now for when we go on walks in the middle of the afternoon. It was only a cheap thing from Pets at Home, and it folds away so I can carry it pretty easily in my pocket. I’m also going to try and take him on more frequent shorter walks when it’s hot outside (as opposed to one long walk).
He’s also getting properly groomed on Sunday this week, because at the minute he’s starting to look like a miniature lion!
I’m definitely not getting his fur shaved because that could (very ironically) lead to more problems in regard to overheating – as Copper’s fur is acting as invaluable insulation for him from both heat & cold – but I am looking at getting his fur stripped (after much advice from my beloved Cocker Spaniel facebook group). That way, all the dead fur on Copper’s coat will be fully removed to help with air-flow for him to regulate his temperature more efficiently. I found this blog post https://thecotswoldspaniels.com/2017/09/18/how-to-groom-a-spaniel/ incredibly useful when looking at grooming my Cocker Spaniel, as it goes into great detail about why you should/shouldn’t do certain things. Thanks to this blog post, I’ll definitely be purchasing the Mars Coat King for Copper!
Hopefully now, moving forward, I’ll be much more prepared for the sun!