5 top tips to help your Border Terrier cope with hot weather

I shall never tire to say that Border Terriers are one of the most adaptable small terriers ever.  They are a working, matter-of-fact, no frill breed, always happy to be where you are and to be involved in family activities, no matter where and when.

Indy sunbathing - it's fun but it's hot!!
Indy sunbathing – it’s fun but it’s hot!!

Borders will enjoy a roll in the snow with your children in winter.  And one of Borders’ favourite ‘hobbies’ is sun bathing – it is amazing how Borders can find the first sun paddle in the garden with the beginning of the better weather, and like to curl up in it for a good old snooze.

Yet, as summer furiously approaches, and with the hotter weather, you are bound to see a total transformation in your Border’s personality.  Border Terriers hate hot weather!

 

Indy loves his snoozes in the hot weather
Indy loves his snoozes in the hot weather

 

 

It’s hot – my dog is not well!!


As temperatures start rising above the 20C degrees, Indy becomes a completely different dog.  When it first happened, we thought he was actually unwell, as his reaction to hot weather is lethargy.  My understanding is that that same double layer of coat that protects him and keeps him warm in winter, yes it is quite insulating in warmer weather, but as it grows longer, it starts making Borders hotter.

And as a result, Indy will just want to do not much more than lay down as snooze for the whole day, or at least until it gets cooler.  Indy will not engage in playing activities, and will more so loose his interest in walks.  At times we have had Indy stalling outside the front door as early as 7 o’clock in the morning, as the weather was already too hot for him, whilst it was OK for us.

Like all dogs, Indy will do much more panting in the hot weather.  This is possibly the one good things about dogs, as it is their natural way to keep their body temperature down, and to avoid sweating.  Dogs do not sweat, but I find that if I touch Indy’s head, I can feel when it is hot.  That rings alarms bells for me, as it tells me that my Indy needs to be cooled down.

And as this happens to Indy every year, regularly I need reassurance to find out that the same reaction is encountered in all other Borders we know of, including youngsters!!!

 

So, what to do???


It is natural that whenever we see our dog under the weather (pardon the pun!!), we will want to help him/her.  Now, when we humans are hot, we instictually take measures to cool our body temperature down.  Dogs are very instinctive individuals, and yes they will shelter from the outdoor heat naturally, but they can’t go and take a cool shower in the same way as we would do.  Therefore we need to assist them in retaining that body temperature at a bearable level, more so as we have established that dogs feel the heat more than their owners.

With Indy we adopt some 5 most practical and uncomplicated coping mechanisms, which we find particularly effective.

 

Tip No. 1 – Avoid the middle of the day


Avoid walks in the middle of the day.  Preferably walk your dog at what are classed as unsociable hours.  By this I certainly do not mean taking your dog for a walk in the middle of the night.  I do not want to encourage putting yours and your dog’s safety at risk!!  But as days are longer, you will find it is most energising to take your dog out first thing in the morning when the sun is already high and the neighbourhood is still quiet.  The road or the local park will be all to yourself and your dog, and to other dogs which you can socialise with undisturbed by the hassle and bustle of passing cars and or other distracting noises.  And if at all possible, stick to shorter walks.

 

CAN DOGS GET SUNBURNED?  FIND OUT HERE

 

Tip No. 2 – Keep your house cool at all times


Keep your house cool at all times.  Use the same measures you would use for humans, i.e. if you have electric fans, use them, although never directly on your dog (it could damage his/her eyes!!!), or leave the windows ajar.  Keep curtains drawn to retain shade during the lighter hours of the day.

As I mentioned, dogs do love sun bathing, but – at least I have noticed with Indy – they will seek sheltered by retreating indoors when the temperatures start rising to weather which is too hot for them.  Let them find the house pleasantly refreshed.  They will most enjoy having a relaxing and re-energising snooze in the comfort of their padded fresh bed!!

But, for the youngsters and most exuberant hounds, who do not give in so easily to the bore of power sleeps, Tip No. 3 may be most suited.

 

A splash in the water, most refreshing
A splash in the water, most refreshing

Tip No. 3 – Water games


Some younger dogs may still like to play about, especially when younger or if more boisterous – I believe this is not the case with Borders.  Either way, you still need to allow your dog to use up his/her energy, and you need to keep them entertained.  Well, like with human children, I believe water games are the answer.

Allow your dog to ‘help’ you with the gardening and give him/her gentle sprinkles of water whilst you water your flower bed.  Your dog will start jumping happily trying to avoid it to then come back to you for more.

Or use a paddling pool for children in your garden and keep it filled with cool water – encourage your dog to splash in it every so often, by throwing his/her favourite tennis ball, or with treats (Borders do not loose their appetite in hot weather!!).

However, if you can, avoid doing so during the warmer hours of the day.  Or keep activities to shorter lengths of time.

 

Tip No. 4 – Cool and fresh food


Like humans, your dog likes fresher food.  So, again keep fresh water available for him/her at all times.  As I mentioned with Indy, your dog is bound to drink more, and fresh water at all times will help your dog keep cooler.  And offer him/her cooler food.

Indy licking vanilla ice cream - don't do as we do, do as we say!!!
Indy licking vanilla ice cream – don’t do as we do, do as we say!!!

I am far from suggesting you should give your dog an ice lolly out of the freezer – this is definitely a big no-no for all sorts of other reasons as well, namely the fact that it is full of sugars which are not going to do your dog’s health any favour.  But what you can do is maybe prepare your dog’s meals in advance and keep it in the fridge for some 10-15 minutes before giving it to him/her.  And likewise, you can keep small treats in the fridge as well.

Sometimes even toys can be kept in the fridge (wrapped up in cling film or in a sandwich bag for hygiene purposes) before you give them to your dog.  Your dog will enjoy the fresh sensation in his/her mouth.

 

Tip No. 5 – Keep that fur short


Keep your Border’s coat shorter.  I am not suggesting that you should strip your dog more often than usual – the double layer of fur coat in Borders is meant to have insulating properties.  Nevertheless and again, we ladies with longer hair instinctually like to tie it up in a bun to allow freshness on our skin, and that is something that your dog cannot do by him/her self.

You may work out your dog’s regular trip to the groomer’s so that it coincide with the beginning of the summer rather than in the middle – by then, your dog would already have suffered some 4 to 6 months of warmer days due to the fur being too long.

 

Life goes on


The fact that it is hot does not stop us from living our normal lives – in fact many of us find summer months more suited for outdoor family activities.  Certainly it is so here in UK, where the gloom of winter months prevents you from having longer walks or easier sightseeing trips.

Well, the fact that the weather is hot should certainly not stop you from allowing your dog to be part of the family activities – just maybe with an extra eye for his/her care.

So, if you are planning a trip in the car, again keep the air con on, or leave the windows open.  But never let your dog stick his/her head out of the window – this could prove dangerous when particles may fly into their eyes!!

And again, try to keep their bed in the car cool as well – use cooling pads.

Also, never forget a bottle of water for your dog.  Cars attract and store heat – at the end of the day they are but a metal tin.  Your dog therefore will feel thirstier and, like for humans, it is vital that your dog is kept hydrated at all times.

But mostly, NEVER LEAVE YOUR DOG LOCKED IN A CAR UNATTENDED IN HOT WEATHER!!!

 


 

How does your dog react to hot weather?  If you are a Border Terrier owner, does your dog behave like my Indy?  Let me know, share your experience, leave a comment below.

 

 

 

6 Comments


  1. // Reply

    Wonderful post. First and foremost, your little Indy is adorable! Thank you for sharing pictures and stories with us 🙂

    In the hot weather I always fill a little toddlers pool. when While I’m outside, I leave the door open so my little furry ones can come in and out as they please. They usually always run to the pool and jump in it to stay cool. When they are just too hot, they’ll go back inside. I love giving them the option of having the pool outside because it allows them to get some exercise, keep cool, and have fun doing while doing it!


    1. // Reply

      That’s an excellent idea Brandy. My Indy is very lazy at best of times, and with the hot weather he gets even worse. So, to entail him to the paddling pool and to the fresh water, we use the good old tennis balls or treats. And when he is there, we sprinkle hims gently with the garden hose. Mind you, no fear of sun stroke so far in UK this year, for Indy or for any of us!!

      Thank you for your comment Brandy. Giulia


  2. // Reply

    Hi, loved reading your article it was really interesting. I have two dogs of my own and they do have a bit of terrier in them. I keep them cool by getting them clipped through the summer and making sure that they have plenty of shelter outside when we’re not home. I also have a little kids splash pool outside filled with water that they love to play in, the water is only up to their bodies and they love throwing their toy balls into it. Sometimes people forget about how the heat affects their animals, can even kill them so thanks for bringing it to peoples attention. Cheers Joanne


    1. // Reply

      I’m glad you found my article of help, Joanne. You are right, sometimes people forget how sensitive to extreme temperatures dogs can be. Mine for example is enjoying warmer weather less and less as he is getting older. There is often the culture and the thirst for hot weather by many people either living in Mediterranean climate countries, or by people living in colder weather countries and craving for a warmer environment. But hot weather, if not warmer temperatures, can in fact affect the well being of our canine friends, and we should ensure that simple measures like the ones I suggest, are taken, so that they retain their quality of life.

      Thanks again 🙂


  3. // Reply

    I was walking my Border this a.m. in Northern California on a dirt road on a leash, at 9:00, in about 60 degree weather, in the shade. After about a mile, we hit a sunny spot for a 100 feet and she just flopped down. Gave her a rest and set off again. In a few hundred more feet she collapsed, full body, on the dirt. Let her rest for a few minutes, turned around and the scenario repeated itself. She was stripped at the end of February. I assumed heat problems. What do you think?


    1. // Reply

      I am no expert, Margot, but I expect that yes, it sounds your girl is struggling with hot weather. I would suggest trying to take her for walkies earlier. I know, it’s not easy all the times. My Indy, now that he is an older boy, prefers his walks mid mornings and later in the afternoon.
      Another idea may have to be keeping the walks to shorter distances, and allow your Border to burn up the energy in the garden, possibly allowing her to have a fresh splash in a child paddling pool. But yes, if you realise that your Border struggles in the hot weather, try to keep her as cool as possible.
      A trip to the groomer may also help 🙂

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