Nothing beats a walk in Ferry Meadows with your dog when the sun is shining. But while humans can take measures to keep cool, our dogs can’t – so can be prone to overheating. Luckily, Peterborough-based dog expert Nickola Engel from Trainer McPhee is on hand to give us a few brilliant tips on how to keep our dogs safe when it’s hot.

As a dog walker, trainer and behaviourist, I am always keen to enjoy a good walk with my dogs. Walks that are not only visually pleasing to me, but stimulating for my canine companions.

Having discovered many beautiful walks during the past eight years, I am frequently drawn back to Nene Park. The rural estate out to the west of Ferry Meadows offers country walks, as well as having numerous opportunities for my dogs to have a swim in the river. Please note however, that Dog owners in Peterborough are currently being warned to keep their dogs out of watercourses in the city after suspected toxic and deadly algae was found. Nene Park Trust has found suspected blue-green algae in Lynch Lake and signs are being erected about the park to highlight the affected areas.

Thorpe Meadows and Orton Mere also offer fantastic walks. My favourite walks however, have to be at Ferry Meadows – my dogs love the agility equipment on Coney Meadow, followed by a refreshing drink at Lakeside Kitchen & Bar.

Nothing beats a summer walk in Ferry Meadows with your dogs.

The four trails around Ferry Meadows – Ham Mere, Wildflower, Bluebell and Gunwade – have all been travelled by me and my dogs many times over the years, and I couldn’t recommend them enough, especially during the summer months.

The warmer months always make any walk much more enjoyable and I love to see children running around, eating ice creams and making daisy chains. It is however, important to remember that whilst humans can make allowances for the heat, such as taking off a layer of clothing, sitting in the shade and sweating, our dogs cannot make such adjustments and so they rely on us to keep them safe.

Unfortunately, dogs don’t sweat, they can only lose heat by panting, and this alone makes exercising your dogs in the heat dangerous.

Heat exhaustion is a very serious condition which can rapidly become fatal, and can occur in as little as 10 minutes in the sun. The health and breed of a dog also needs to be considered as this can affect how well they can cope with the heat – for example brachycephalic breeds (such as Pugs and French bulldogs) struggle in the heat due to their short muzzles.

Puppies are also at greater risk of heat exhaustion. Surprisingly, longer haired dogs have slightly better protection compared to short haired breeds due to the nature of their coats. That said, here are some simple safety precautions for exercising any breed of dog in the heat.

Heat Safety Tips for Dogs

– Walk earlier in the morning or later in the evening – avoid the middle, hotter, part of the day.

– Avoid games such as fetch, as this causes a dog’s temperature to rise much faster.

– Invest in a ‘cool coat’ for your dog.

– Walk less distance – take some time out to sit in the shade with your dog and watch the world go by.

– Dogs can be exercised ‘mentally’ indoors with a Kong, games or teaching obedience/tricks.

– Walk in more suitable areas – such as close to rivers and streams so that your dog can have a cooling dip.

– Check the pavement – place the back of your hand on the ground, if it is too hot for your hand, it’s too hot for your dog’s paws.

– Take a water bottle with you on walks for your dog.

– Never leave your dog in the car – even with the windows open! The temperature rises dramatically within minutes.

It is always nice to take our dogs out for a stroll with the rest of the family and, with a few simple precautions, every walk can be a lovely and safe one.

If you would like any further dog advice, please visit www.trainermcphee.co.uk.

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