Heatstroke in spaniels is a very real risk during periods of hot and even warm weather, and you should always be conscious of the seasonal changes that can affect the health and ability of your dog.
The weather where I am has been unseasonably warm for the time of year, and this has made me change the schedule of my working English Cocker spaniels, Boris, Betty and Nimrod.
Being able to keep your spaniel safe during the summer months becomes easier if you know what the hazards are and how to prevent them from occurring.
The risks of warm weather for dogs
We all enjoy the warm weather and it can mean some great times of fun for us with our spaniels, long walks, swimming, camping holidays, hiking and lots more, but, just as the hot weather can bring risks for humans, it can also create potential problems for dogs.
Some of these problems include:
Burned pads on paws
Fleas and ticks
Leptospirosis and other potential illnesses.
Let’s look at how we prevent heatstroke in spaniels and the other common risks of the warm weather.
How to prevent dehydration in spaniels
We all know what it is like when the weather is hot, we get hot, thirsty and tired.
It’s the same for your dog but he is more at risk due to the way in which his body handles heat.
Dogs are unable to sweat in the way that humans can, most heat is dispersed through his mouth ( which is why he pants a lot when he gets hot).
The best way to help your dog to stay cool and safe during the summer is to make sure that he always has access to lots of clean, fresh water.
There’s nothing wrong with adding ice cubes to your dog’s water dish, they will cool the water more and, as they melt provide greater refreshment for him.
If you feed dried food to your spaniel then you can add clean, cold water to his meal, not too much, just enough so that he gets a great drink while he eats.
You can also introduce some canned dog food, in a sauce or gravy, which will get extra fluid into his body.
How to prevent your spaniel from burning his pads
Tarmac and pavements can act as real heat traps during the summer months and, if you are not careful your spaniel could burn the pads on his paws.
How many times have you seen asphalt melting on the road when the sun shines on it? It has to be pretty hot for that to happen.
Can you imagine the damage that your dog would do to his paws if he stepped onto it?
The best way to prevent this is to simply change the schedule that you normally have and take your spaniel out for a walk early in the morning and later in the afternoon/evening, when the sun is not as intense and temperatures will be lower.
If you do need to go out at the hottest times of the day, then the safest option is probably to leave your spaniel at home.
How to prevent fleas and ticks in spaniels
My spaniels have both suffered, in the past, from fleas and ticks. These horrible parasites appear during the summer and, if your dog gets them, they can be tricky to get rid of.
We use a flea and tick treatment that we get from our vets, it’s in the form of a tablet that the dogs eat.
The tablet contains chemicals that are harmless to the dog but, should a flea or tick attempt to make his home on the dog, the chemicals will kill it.
You can also get sachets of flea treatment that you apply to your dogs’s neck such as Frontline and others.
You can find out more about Frontline here.
Best route is to get the advice of your vet and see what they recommend for your spaniel.
During the summer is is always a good idea to inspect your dog for any signs of infestation, paying attention to the area around the bottom, his ears and neck.
Ticks latch onto your dog and, fi you find one then you should never just pull it away. You could break the tick and leave it’s head inside your dog’s body, which can lead to infection.
The best ways to remove ticks are to either carefully burn it with a match, or better – apply nail varnish remover to it and leave it for a few hours – the remover will kill the tick making it easier to remove.
Areas that have high populations of sheep tend to be the worst for ticks, which sit in the grass waiting for an unsuspecting sheep ( or spaniel ) to come along. So try to avoid these areas in summer.
How to prevent heat stroke in spaniels
Heat stroke is deadly for dogs. It is one of the worst conditions that a dog can experience and it can be fatal.
The simplest way to prevent heat stroke in spaniels is to not let your dog get too hot.
This may mean no training when it is hot, walks at cooler times of the day, a change of exercise regime to something more relevant to the weather, such as swimming for him.
Discover the best way to get your spaniel in the water here.
You need to make sure that he has plenty of water and that he can relax in a cool, shaded area.
We have a paddling pool on the lawn, that the dogs can jump in and out of to cool down whenever they need to.
Never leave your spaniel in the car when it is hot, if ever. Even if you leave the windows down, the temperature can quickly rocket when the sun touches the vehicle.
You know yourself just how hot it can get, and how quickly that can happen, You have the ability to control your body temperature more effectively than your spaniel.
A hot car could kill him.
Don’t leave your dog in a hot car.
How to prevent allergies in spaniels
My eldest Cocker, Boris, suffers from hay fever. It is quite a common condition in all dogs, spaniels included, and can result in sneezing and watery eyes and lethargy.
We treat his eyes with drops and try to avoid places that have high pollen levels ( which is not easy ).
If you think that your spaniel may be affected by summer allergies then a visit to your vets will help and they’ll be able to recommend the best course of treatment and prevention.
Leptospirosis in spaniels
Thankfully this is rare but it can occur, particularly if your spaniel has not been vaccinated, and vaccination should be your priority towards prevention.
Leptospirosis is a water borne and fuid transferred disease that is transmitted via an infected animal. One of the most common causes of the disease is when rodents ( rats normally ) urinate in water and the dog or other animal then drinks that water.
It is a nasty disease that can be fatal or cause long lasting health problems which are normally permanent.
The symptoms can include shaking, increased thirst, vomiting, lack of appetite, lethagy and others.
As in all cases, if you are concerned about your spaniel’s health then you should get him to the vet’s straightaway.
Can spaniels tolerate heat?
Spaniels are tough dogs that can tolerate warm and hot conditions but this does not mean that you do not need to make changes to your dog’s schedule.
Your spaniel will happily go out for a walk at anytime of the day, regardless of how hot it is, and he’ll charge around getting hot which, in high temperatures can be dangerous for him.
Always be sensible and do the best to keep your dog cool and calm – you’ll know yourself if you own a Cocker spaniel, Springer or one of the other spaniel breeds, just how hyperactive they can be and they will charge around regardless of the weather conditions.
So, you need to take charge and keep your spaniel away from the heat of the day – it won’t do him any harm to sit still for a while.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is heatstroke?
Heatstroke is a potentially life-threatening condition where the dog’s body temperature rises dangerously above normal (over 39.2°C/102.5°F), leading to damage to internal organs.
Are spaniels more prone to heatstroke?
Spaniels, especially those with thicker and longer coats, can be more prone to heatstroke due to their fur trapping heat. Additionally, brachycephalic or flat-faced breeds are also more at risk, although this trait is not common in spaniels.
What are the symptoms of heatstroke in spaniels?
Symptoms can include heavy panting, excessive drooling, dizziness, lack of coordination, lethargy, loss of consciousness, vomiting, diarrhoea, and in severe cases, seizures.
What should I do if I suspect my spaniel has heatstroke?
First, remove your dog from the heat immediately and cool them down slowly by applying cool (not cold) water to their body. Offer small amounts of water to drink but do not force them. Call your vet immediately, as heatstroke can rapidly become a life-threatening emergency.
Can heatstroke cause long-term damage in spaniels?
Yes, heatstroke can lead to permanent organ damage, particularly to the brain, kidneys, and heart, if not treated promptly. It can also potentially be fatal.
Are there certain activities that increase the risk of heatstroke in spaniels?
Yes, intense physical activity during the hottest parts of the day, being confined in a hot space like a car or a non-ventilated room, and lack of access to water can all increase the risk of heatstroke.
Does humidity affect heatstroke risk in spaniels?
Yes, high humidity can increase the risk of heatstroke as it makes it harder for dogs to cool down.
Is my spaniel at risk of heatstroke during winter?
While heatstroke is more common during hotter months, it can occur anytime if the dog is exposed to high temperatures, such as being left in a car or near a heat source for a long period of time.
What age group of spaniels is most susceptible to heatstroke?
All age groups can suffer from heatstroke, but puppies, senior dogs, and dogs with health issues are more susceptible due to their less efficient thermoregulatory systems.
Can my spaniel recover fully from heatstroke?
Yes, with prompt and appropriate veterinary care, many dogs can recover fully from heatstroke. However, the prognosis can vary depending on the severity of the heatstroke and the health condition of the dog.