The sun is up—and your heat-alert level should be up, too. Especially if you own an older dog that is less likely to tolerate extreme summer temperatures. If your dog is panting heavily, salivating, or foaming, he may be having a heat-related problem. Get your dog to a cool location, provide small drinks of cold water, and, if he doesn't improve within a few minutes, contact your veterinarian. Here are some other tips...
Groom him for summer. A shorter summer clip is fine for many dogs, but resist the urge to give your dog a buzz cut. His fur is part of his natural insulation system that keeps hot air out during summer. Also, shaving your dog's coat too short can put him at risk for sunburn.
Make sure he has a shady spot to relax in. If your dog spends a lot of time outside in the summer, provide him with a sun-sheltered area—or a pet door, so he can go inside when he wants. Like you, your dog loves a shady spot on a baking-hot day.
Think inside the house. Keep your dog indoors when you go out for more than an hour. If possible, restrict him to rooms with either air conditioning or a fan—but make sure the fan is out of his reach.
Keep his bed cool. Remove cushiony bedding from your dog's crate or bed. He may be more comfortable lying on the cooler bottom rather than on blankets or fleece. You can also take a look at the new-fangled cooling mats in your local pet specialty store. Some of them use water-activated crystals to keep the mat, and the dog lying on it, cool.
Provide plenty of fresh water. You're not the only one who enjoys a nice drink of refreshing water on a hot summer day. And if you take your pooch out for walk on a hot day, be sure to carry water and a drinking bowl for him. Speaking of going for a walk...
Save walks and exercise sessions for cooler hours. Schedule walks for early morning or after the sun goes down. Your dog will appreciate the cooler temperatures.
Never keep your dog in a car on a hot day. Even if you're parked in the shade with the windows down a little, the temperature could rapidly rise to a dangerous level.
Keep toilet lids down. This is the time of year when dogs are tempted to drink the cold water from toilet bowls. So keep the lid down and always try to avoid chemical cleaners and fresheners that stay in the bowl.
Check the ground for hot spots. Blacktop can get scorchingly hot for your dog's pads. Touch the surface yourself—if it's too hot for you, it's probably too hot for your dog.
Hose him down. Try a gentle spray of cool water. Keep in mind it may take you a few tries before your pooch enjoys the experience. If all goes according to plan, he'll feel happy and refreshed once he's all nice and wet.
Check out the latest cooling collars. Your local pet specialty store might stock cool collars. Just fill them with ice and, while the ice melts, it helps keep your dog cool and refreshed.
As your dog ages, you’ll likely notice changes in your best pal’s energy levels, routine and even muzzle. Older pets may require adjustments to help them get around, exercise and live their best life as a senior. One important aspect of caring for a dog entering their golden years is diet.
When it comes to diet, every dog has unique, individual needs, regardless of age. So, there's no one easy answer to the question of soft food versus hard food. Both types of food can provide your dog with the nutrition they need — as long as you feed your dog a high-quality dog food that’s nutritionally balanced and complete.
Signs Your Senior Dog May Benefit from Wet Food
If your dog has very specific health concerns, such as aging joints or weight issues, consult with your vet for more information about what type of food best addresses your dog's needs. That being said, there are a few reasons why you may consider switching your senior dog to soft food.
As your dog gets older, their teeth may become more sensitive, which can make chewing kibble more difficult and even uncomfortable. Switching to a soft food can help to alleviate your pet’s oral discomfort when eating.
However, if your dog is experiencing serious pain at mealtime from a condition like tooth decay or gingivitis, switching to soft food won't remedy the problem. Make sure you talk to your vet about oral care and dental treatment.
Digestion begins in the mouth with saliva, so if your dog has a tendency to scarf down meals, they may not be adequately chewing the food or adding enough saliva to it. Soft food can aid with digestion because it's more easily chewed.
It’s no surprise that wet food has a higher moisture content when compared to dry kibble. If your senior pup is prone to urinary-tract issues or simply needs a little help staying hydrated, canned dog food may be a good choice.
Aging dogs tend to have a slower metabolic rate compared to their younger years, which puts them at a higher risk of becoming overweight or obese. Many nutritionally balanced wet dog foods offer high protein content with fewer carbs than dry food, which can benefit older dogs with slower metabolism. Always talk to your vet if you have concerns about your pup’s weight.
While wet food may be less than appetizing to humans, the opposite is true for dogs! If your aging best friend has started turning their snout up to dry food, wet food tends to be more appealing to picky eaters. Mixing wet food and kibble offers your pup a variety of flavors and textures; try adding wet food as a topper on dry food for a real treat!
Whether you choose dry food, soft food or a mix of both, ask your vet before making any transition. And when it's time to switch your dog's food, remember to do it slowly — even if it's the same brand and flavor — to help prevent stomach upset and allow your dog time to adjust.