Keeping dogs in the tropics can be difficult because of the climate. Dog breeds that originate from cold climates such as Siberian Huskies and German Shepherds may not do well in tropical regions, especially if they stay outdoors in the hot weather for long periods. Long-haired breeds, short-faced breeds like Pugs who can't breathe well, and overweight dogs that heat up quickly may also be affected by the high temperatures.
Other breeds like Chihuahuas and some Terriers may be more suited for hot weather.
No matter the breed, people who live in tropical areas and own dogs should know what they can do to keep their pups cool and comfortable.
Dogs sweat mainly through the paw pads, and cannot cool themselves down as efficiently as humans. Here are some tips you can note to make your beloved pooch more comfortable when the temperatures rise.
A nice, shady spot outdoors can offer a play to play and relax. A kiddy pool or tub is an excellent way of keeping them cool.
Your dog should have access to fresh drinking water at all times. You can even place a few blocks of ice in the water bowl for tasty, cold drinking water.
The ice cubes will not last long in the heat, but they will at least help cool the water off for a while.
Exercise your dog at dawn before it gets too hot, or in the evenings when it cools. Wait until after sunset to walk your dog if it has been another day of high temperatures.
Swimming is an excellent cardiovascular activity and great for muscle tone, so you can head to a beach or pool for a day of splashing fun.
Make sure you’re not walking your dog on extremely hot surfaces such as blacktop or roads as these can burn paw pads. The general rule of thumb is that if you are unable to walk barefoot on the pavement, the surface is too hot for your dog as well.
Stick to trails or grass, especially during the evenings when the roads have yet to cool down. If you have no choice but to walk on concrete or asphalt, there are booties that you can use for protection.
While long-haired dogs can be trimmed, completely shaving a dog will not help. Dogs need their coats for insulation, catching the breeze and ensuring a functioning cooling system.
In addition, shaving their coats fully exposes the skin and leaves them vulnerable to sunburn and skin cancers.
It is important that you brush your dog often to keep the coat looking its best. Brushing removes dirt and debris, which would otherwise accumulate in the coat, causing mats and tangles. Brushing also stimulates blood circulation, promotes healthy skin and hair growth, and removes dead hair.
To ensure your dog doesn’t overheat during the hottest time of the day, you can set up a kiddy pool or large tub for some water play. Just get used to the smell of wet dog!
Even hosing your dog down every few hours will significantly ease discomfort, especially during the hottest times of the day.
Head to the beach for the day! Tanjong Beach in Sentosa is an extremely dog-friendly beach with many dogs let off the leash for some water play.
When introducing your dog to water, start slow and monitor the response. A weak swimmer can swallow mouthfuls of water and get a tummy ache.
For extra security and peace of mind, you can also get a doggy life jacket.
Never leave your dog in the car, even with the windows down. A car is a heat-absorbing oven that can reach dangerous temperatures within minutes.
If it is 32°C outside, it takes approximately 10 minutes for the car’s interior to hit a dangerous 43°C.
If you ever notice a dog in a parked vehicle on hot days, definitely try to help locate the owner or call local authorities.
Places with hot, humid weather tend to be home to many different insect pests and other creepy crawlies. Nasty critters like fleas and ticks are difficult to get rid off once a full-scaled infestation is present.
Flea bites can cause various skin problems such as dermatitis and infections to arise in dogs. If a dog scratches its flea bite, it can end up scratching off the area of the infected skin which then leaves the area vulnerable to infections.
Fleas can also cause allergic reactions and more severe diseases like flea-bite anaemia.
Tick-borne infections can have severe health consequences not only for dogs but humans too. Rocky Mountain Spotted fever, Lyme disease, Anaplasmosis and Babesiosis are just some of the many nasty illnesses they can cause.
Flea and tick bites can be hard to identify at first, but you should always check for them if a pet has been outdoors. Typical symptoms of a bite include:
Keep up to date on all medications, such as flea and tick control or heartworm prevention. Speak to a veterinarian about the best preventative care.
Flea or tick bites are one of the most common skin conditions in dogs. The most obvious symptom is that they will scratch themselves quite a bit, which can lead to more damage and injury.
Be wary around dogs that have severely irritated skin. No matter how good the temperament of a dog is, any dog can snap when in pain or extremely irritated.
Water is essential to all living things. Adequate hydration will help process food better, give energy and keep the internal organs properly functioning.
Dehydration is a dangerous condition that if untreated, can have severe consequences. Symptoms of dehydration include:
To check for dehydration, gently pull up some skin between the shoulder blades. If the skin springs right back into place when you let go, your dog is well hydrated. However, if the skin takes a while to fall back into place and retains that pulled shape, your dog might be dehydrated.
To give your dog extra special care, you can also freeze water bowls so your pooch can enjoy cold water as it slowly melts. This will give your dog a nice cold treat, and most dogs love licking ice.
To further encourage good drinking habits, you can add a trace amount of flavouring such as a vegetable or chicken stock.
Dogs regulate their body heat by using a few of their natural mechanisms, such as sweating through their paws and noses.
Heatstroke occurs when they are no longer able to regulate themselves. Breeds with thick fur and short noses are more likely to succumb to heat exhaustion.
Symptoms of heatstroke include:
Heatstroke is a serious condition that can turn fatal if left untreated. If you suspect your dog of heatstroke, consult a veterinary professional immediately.
While not all dogs will be happy in the hot, humid climate of Singapore, many others, including our Singapore Specials, are well-suited for the tropics.
With some precautions and extra special care, you and your beloved furkid can live healthy, active lives. Thanks for reading and all the best to you and your pooch!