Hot Hounds: Coping with Summer Heat
Jan 13, 2023
It is no surprise to hear that Australia has hot summers – we are famous for it. With the mercury set to tip over 45 degrees multiple times this year, it is increasingly important to be prepared, especially when it comes to our beloved pets.
Greyhounds are particularly susceptible to heat stress and heat stroke due to their slender bodies. They have little body fat, and this means insulating themselves (either keeping warm or staying cool) can be a challenge for our lanky friends. The number one tip for keeping pets cool on those extra hot days is to keep them inside – if you would be hot spending time together outside, so would they, even more so.
Exercise Rules on Hot Days
As a rule, you should avoid walking at all on very hot days, unless it is at least an hour or two after sunset once the temperature has dropped, or exceedingly early in the morning. A good trick that I was taught as a kid is that if you cannot hold the back of your hand on the pavement for seven full seconds without it being too hot, then it is too hot to walk your dog. Their paw pads can burn very easily, even if the air temperature is no longer dangerous. If you do exercise your hound on warmer days (this includes walks as well as playing outside), then you must always have plenty of water and shade available. Never leave your greyhound in the car – even in winter. I like taking my dogs to the beach at sunset on warm days and letting them get their legs wet in the waves.
A fun way to help your hound keep cool is a paddling pool – in particular, those rigid plastic shell pools work well! You can get them at Bunnings as well as Big W, among other places. Keep these in a shady spot so that the water does not get too hot, replenish them with cooler water on hotter days, and let your hound enjoy it at leisure. Some hounds will not take to it right away and may only drink from it or get their feet wet – others may lay down in the water and take a nap!
There are plenty of ways to make cooling down extra delicious for your greyhound. You can start by adding some ice cubes to their water throughout the day, especially after exercise or time outside. You can also freeze their favourite treats inside ice cubes and let them work them out of the tray! You can freeze Kong toys with xylitol-free peanut butter and other delicious things. This is helpful not only for keeping cool but for enrichment, too!
Cooling Down Fast
Sometimes, despite your best efforts, your hound may get too warm. It is important to keep calm and keep a close eye on your pet if you notice they are not cooling down and/or are too warm. Heatstroke and heat stress are medical emergencies, and if your dog is vomiting, seizing, not cooling down at all, struggling to breathe, or otherwise exhibiting worrying symptoms then it is not an overreaction to get them straight to the closest vet. When they are just a little too warm though, you can try a couple of things to help them bring their temperature down. Wetting your hound might not be super appealing to them, but it could be extremely helpful – putting them under a cool shower or wiping them with wet towels can help. Make sure you offer them plenty of water and keep it easy to always access. Remember if you are hosing them down, make sure to dry off any excess water shortly after, as the beads of water can also heat up quickly if left to sit on their coat.
Author: Charlie Jayde
Greyhound Owner for 4 years / GAP Volunteer
Experienced Dog Trainer