Summer is the perfect time to have fun in the sun with your furry friends! However, it is also important that you protect yourself and your pet from extreme humidity and sun rays – especially here in Qatar.
To avoid confusion and uncertainty on how to keep your dog safe in Qatar’s extreme heat, we decided to directly ask the experts themselves at Dragon Animal Care Center. Our team met up with Dr. Abdurehman and had a whole conversation on how to protect and keep your dog cool this summer.
Here is Dr. Abdurehman’s advice for all pet parents:
How do dogs normally behave or react to the summer weather?
Dr. Abdu Rehman: With regards to your question, during the summertime, dogs slow down. Dogs naturally know when to reduce their activity to reduce the amount of heat they produce. Dogs who have lived in colder weather before will be more prone to this, which makes them feel annoyed and frustrated. According to research, there’s a higher chance of dogs biting people during the summer. Hence it’s very important that if your dog is hyper, angry or showing moody behaviour in the summertime, make sure you don’t introduce them to strangers, kids, etc. This is a common phenomenon according to many researchers. So we need to avoid people getting bitten by dogs to avoid developing trauma. Another thing to consider why dogs might behave aggressively is because they are thickly coated with fur and they are frustrated by it, causing them to behave outrageously. This usually applies to dogs such as Husky and German shepherd.
Does weather affect dog shedding? If yes, what ways does it affect?
Dr. Abdu Rehman: Shedding occurs when weather change happens. It applies from summer to winter and vice versa. This phenomenon is known as a ‘blowing coat’. This is mostly seen in dogs that are double-coated. The coloured fur that we see on top are primary hair. Inside these hairs are shorter hairs that are smooth and silky, known as secondary hairs. What happens when the weather changes from winter to summer is that the dogs shed their secondary hairs so that their fur and body becomes lighter. From summer to winter, they will again shed these hairs and will be covered with a thicker coat. This type of shedding is completely normal. However, if the shedding is excessive where the skin of your dog is visible, this is not normal. This is called alopecia. So, you have to be able to distinguish between normal shedding and certain skin conditions.
How can small dogs be kept cool? And what about the big dogs?
Dr. Abdu Rehman: The answer applies to both big or small dogs – we have to keep them cool in the same way. What is essential to do during the summer is to always provide our dogs with an adequate amount of drinking water. The water should not be hot or freezing cold but cool, at a temperature of the same as a room temperature would be. They should always have access to drinking water. If your dogs want to play, it is best suggested that they play in water so that they don’t overheat. This will help them cool down and release the heat from their body. Moreover, you should also avoid taking your dog out during midday at around 12 to 1 PM, otherwise, your dog may end up at the vet. Another important thing to note is to never leave your dog in a parked car. Even though the AC is on, there is no ventilation for your dog. This is also applicable if you have a doghouse – you do not want to leave your dog inside because there is little to no ventilation. They should be indoors with you in your own house. Furthermore, we strongly advise that you should avoid over-exercising your dog outside. This may happen during the process when you run, your dog starts running to follow your pace which may cause them to end up fainting. So we do suggest you do less outdoor exercise. Your dog is allowed to exercise indoors, but please be wary of how he reacts to the minimum amount of space and ventilation. Avoid long car journeys for the same reason why we don’t leave our dogs in a parked car – so these are the precautionary things to keep your dog cool in the summer.
You mentioned keeping them cool in the water. So do you have any tips to keep the dog safe around the pool?
Dr. Abdu Rehman: The first two things to consider regarding safety around the pool is the heat and humidity, especially in Qatar. If we, ourselves, feel the heat and humidity level is something our body can tolerate, then it is also the perfect weather for your dogs to do activities outside like playing by the pool. If not, then do not take your dog out for a swim in that time which is usually the midday time here in Qatar, where the humidity level is high – it can cause overheating for your pet. The water can remain on the dog’s fur and that can make them feel suffocated. The third thing to consider is the size of the dog. Dogs usually know how to swim. Though small dogs may be dragged around and into the water by kids unintentionally, so you have to always be present and keep an eye out for any sort of dangerous situations. For bigger dogs, this isn’t too much of an issue, but it’s still something to watch out for since when playing around, things can get reckless. For instance, the kids may end up pulling the tail of your dog and it may bite the kids back in response – these are some situations that need to be prevented.
Can dogs actually get sunburnt?
Dr. Abdu Rehman: Yes, dogs can get sunburnt. Sunburn may happen in specific areas on the dogs such as their ears and noses, pink-coloured areas and their bellies. These areas are more prone to it. When your dog goes out and about, they might want to have a little rest and like to go on their back, this then would reveal their belly and expose their chances of getting sunburnt. They are similar to humans in this way, nothing too different.
What is the fastest way to cool down your dog?
Dr. Abdu Rehman: If you see your dog overheating, you can cool them down by using cool water, not cold water as this can eventually give them hypothermia. Secondly, put a fan in front of your dog, it will help them pant to start sweating off the heat from their body. Lastly, always provide your dog with cool water. These are the 3 tips that all pet parents should know on how to cool them down.
What is the ideal indoor temperature for a dog?
Dr. Abdu Rehman: The ideal temperature for a dog is dependent on their size, how heavy they are, their age and how much activity they do. According to their activity level, there won’t be an exact value but a range. In the winter, the range is between 69 to 73 degrees Fahrenheit. This is the normal temperature for them. In the summer, 75 to 78 degrees Fahrenheit is the ideal indoor temperature for them, which is about 23 to 25 degrees Celsius. This is the ideal temperature for them regardless of how much fur they have. Although you still need to make sure to always provide a blanket for your dog in case they feel cold.
What are some ways to protect dogs from sunburn on walks or when they spend a lot of time outside in summer?
Dr. Abdu Rehman: Paw protection is most important in these situations, especially here in Qatar, as the pavements can get burning hot. As I mentioned earlier, make sure to always avoid the midday heat. If you want to go out with your dog, it is best and recommended to go in the evening or early morning. Walk your dog in the grass as the temperature of the grass is cooler than the pavement. If you want, you can use paw protectors such as shoes and socks. Make sure your dog’s paws don’t have cracks. This can occur due to dehydration or disease. You can apply wax or gels to help this heal back to normal. These are things to ensure that the paws of your dogs are protected.
We love to bring our dogs everywhere, but are there any summer events we should leave our dogs home for?
Dr. Abdu Rehman: In Qatar, when the temperature and humidity are at their highest, this is when dogs feel most suffocated. We should not take our dogs out during this time. This is because they will have a probability of experiencing dehydration and heatstroke during this time. Dogs can also be more irritable during the summer and can bite a stranger passing by. Avoid these things and leave your dog at home.
A lot of events in the summer are occurring in the evenings. What about evening events?
Dr. Abdu Rehman: What is triggering the aggressive behaviour of dogs is the humidity and the temperature. Even if you go to a completely indoor event that’s air-conditioned, you still put stress on your dog as you were travelling in a car, which is a small space. By putting them in an environment full of strangers, the dog will be even more stressed. You always have to be careful and avoid these situations because we cannot always guess what kind of aggressive behaviour or how aggressive your dog may or may not get.
Sometimes events with guests at our homes can be dangerous for dogs. What rules should we tell our guests about during summer get-togethers to keep our dogs safe?
Dr. Abdu Rehman: Dogs will be stressed around guests. You can’t put your dog in a separate and closed space like a bathroom, as he will be making too much noise. You have to consider how you can reduce the contact between your dog and your guests. Especially in the summertime, we don’t know how the dog will react. If your dog has been trained to socialise with people before, then it should be fine. Otherwise, it’s best to keep your dog at a friend’s place, if the dog knows them, or at a pet hotel for that particular day of the events. This will reduce stress and maintain great security for you, your dog and your guests.
What’s the most common reason dogs end up at the emergency vet in summer? How can we prevent such matters?
Dr. Abdu Rehman: The most common reason that dogs go into an emergency is excessive exercise or when they are not fully hydrated as they normally should be on a daily basis. Another possible situation is when the dog does their regular activities under no shade or at a place with no proper ventilation. This will eventually make the dog get into heatstroke and end up at the vet. Such situations are recommended as to be highly avoided. Every dog owner should be wary of these things. If you see your dog panting a lot, check your dog’s temperature and give him some water to drink.
Related to emergency situations, how can one recognise heatstroke in a dog?
Dr. Abdu Rehman: Firstly, your dog’s activity will slow down and they’ll start panting a lot. After a while, your dog’s nose area will become dry. Then your dog will start vomiting. These are the gradual steps on what will happen in the event when a dog develops a heat stroke. Afterwards, your dog will have diarrhoea, incoordination due to the brain shutting down. Lastly, your dog will lay down and collapse. These are the symptoms shown in a dog when they get into heatstroke from the least to the most extreme that all pet parents should recognize.
Should we change our dogs’ diets in summer if they’re more active? Are there any summer human foods that pet owners can share with their dogs?
Dr. Abdu Rehman: The diet should remain the same, even if they’re active or not. You can feed your dog watermelon, cucumber, mangos – any foods with high vitamin C and water content. Though do make sure not to include the seeds as these can get stuck in their intestines and cause issues. These 3 fruits can be given. Not to mention, you can give yoghurt to them as well. These foods contain vitamins and minerals that will help your dog stay strong, healthy and hydrated.
If you could give pet parents your top three bits of advice to keep dogs safe in Qatar’s summer heat, what would they be?
Dr. Abdu Rehman: Firstly, never take your dog out when the temperature and humidity are high. Secondly, make sure they have enough water. Lastly, avoid overexercising your dogs. These things should be mandatory with Qatar’s summer conditions.
How long should we take our dogs out for a walk?
Dr. Abdu Rehman: It all depends on how you feel. It is advised that you will put yourself in the same situation as your dog. If your dog starts lagging behind you during walks, this is a sign that you should not walk your dog any further. However much your dog wants to walk, that’s usually enough. Walks are mainly for joint health and their activity; they won’t get muscular from simply walking. Sometimes your dog may want to walk a lot, sometimes they won’t. It varies depending on their stamina.
What are the particular timings and degrees outside where we can take our dog for walks in Qatar?
Dr. Abdu Rehman: There is no particular temperature for a walk outside. If you feel you can stand a certain temperature at that time, then your dog will be able to tolerate it as well. However long you can go for a walk, your dog will also walk for that same period of time. Most dogs in Qatar are actually born here. In books, we will not be able to find accurate information in accordance with Qatar, since it’s all based on the US or Europe. There’s a big difference between the temperatures in these countries and Qatar. So we do advise that early mornings and late evenings are the perfect time to take your dog out in Qatar’s current summer weather. Besides that, there is no particular perfect temperature we can recommend you for dogs to go on their walks outside. So we can only suggest that pet parents should take out their dogs when the temperature is tolerating for themselves, this would usually be the most ideal one for their dog as well.
So, do dogs naturally have adapted to Qatar’s weather if they’re born here?
Dr. Abdu Rehman: Yes, wherever dogs are born, they will usually adapt to their particular birthplace. It’s similar to us humans. Here in Qatar, it can get extremely hot, so when people like us who are used to the weather here goes to a cold country, the locals there will find it normal for them. However, for people like us who are new to the place, we will be wearing a thick coat. The same case applies to dogs.
We are very thankful to Dr. Abdu Rehman, a qualified veterinary doctor, for providing us accurate information on how to protect and prevent dogs from experiencing heat exhaustion. We were very pleased to have gained educational insights on how to do it in Qatar’s extreme, summer weather.
To get custom consultations, schedule a reservation for health checkups, or simply to visit the Dragon Animal Care Center – you may reach out to them with the following contact details below:
Address: Duhail Ain Bin Bahar Street Building-8, Street-964, Zone-31، Doha
Opening Hours: Sunday-Saturday, 08.00AM-12.00AM
Fridays: 08.00-11.30AM, 12.30-12AM
By: Yohana Sihol Marito Manurung