As we approach the summer months, it becomes increasingly difficult for our collies to tolerate the heat. This article explains how border collies handle hot weather, what temperature is too hot, how to keep your collie cool, and more…
The 9 best ways to keep your border collie cool in summer:
- Avoid midday heat & sun exposure
- Exercise early in the morning & late evening
- Elevated cooling beds
- Actively encourage more drinking
- Consider her paws
- Ice treats
- Have a dedicated “cool room” in the house
- Damp towels in the shade
- Get a paddling pool
All will be explained in full detail and more below.
What Temperature Is Too Hot For Border Collies
Can border collies tolerate a hot climate? And what temperature is too hot? These are great questions so let’s take a look.
Once the temperature rises above 20°C (70°F), the chances of dehydration and heatstroke increase substantially, and most collies will start to feel uncomfortable. The ideal temperature range for a border collie is anywhere between 7°C-15°C (45-60°F).
Remember, all collies will have their own tolerance. Some will be more adaptable and surprisingly tolerable of hot conditions, and others not so much. Typically, dogs that live in regions where the summer isn’t usually hot, will suffer the most if unusually high temperatures come in.
9 Ways To Keep Your Border Collie Cool In Summer
With most parts of the world seeing summer heat much higher than 20°C (70°F), it becomes very important that owners help their border collie stay cool and comfortable.
1. Avoid midday heat & sun exposure
No matter how much your collie enjoys sunbathing, it’s best to keep her inside during the hottest part of the day. Of course, this varies depending on your location, but it’s usually 12-3 pm in most places.
Keeping your collie out of direct sunshine and in a cool room will instantly make a huge difference to her overall comfortability. It’s during these hours that dehydration and heatstroke can really get the better of your collie.
2. Exercise early morning & late evening
This goes hand in hand with the first tip. Exercise is crucial for border collies and has to continue despite the warmer weather. So the best way to get around it is to change your exercise times to as early as possible, and then much later in the evening when the sun is lower.
This is extremely important because any kind of exercise during the hottest part day will quickly make your collie feel uncomfortable and again vulnerable to heat stroke and dehydration. Exercise must continue, but just at a more appropriate time.
3. Elevated cooling beds
Elevated cooling beds are simple, effective, and one of my favorite ways to keep my dogs cool. These beds are raised from the floor anywhere between 6-10 inches, made from a lightweight aluminum frame, with a perforated (trampoline-like) material as the bed.
As the material is breathable and raised off the floor, it allows your collie to expel body heat through her underbelly while laying down. Not to mention the satisfying breeze that will wisp underneath. These beds are truly worth it for the summer! And are relatively inexpensive.
4. Actively encourage more drinking
Unfortunately, our dogs don’t drink as much water as they should. This is partly because they only have one bowl, and it’s out of mind, or their water is warm and full of gunk. So it’s crucial to encourage your collie to drink more regularly.
This can be made easier by getting multiple water bowls for different parts of the house and constantly refreshing the water (even if it’s only half full). Believe it or not, a dog will be more inclined to leave their water if it’s warm and filled with gunk.
Remaining hydrated (although your collie doesn’t know it) will seriously improve her ability to remain comfortable and tolerable of hot weather.
5. Consider her paws
The paw pads are the first point of contact to the ground and are also very sensitive to temperature. Certain surfaces like concrete, tarmac, and even certain wood can get very hot in the sun.
Consider what surfaces your collie walks on in both your yard and when out on walks. Always choose grass and mud over other surfaces. Prolonged exposure to hot surfaces could result in burning, which is extremely painful and will require veterinary help.
A good rule to remember is that if the ground is too hot for your hand, it’s too hot for her paws.
6. Ice treats
We love giving our furry friends as many treats as they are allowed. And one great way to double the treat up as an effective cooling technique is to switch to ice treats.
You can make your own ice treats easily by infusing ice cubes with dog treats, chicken stock (a healthy option), or even peanut butter (dog-friendly only). Another favorite is to freeze peeled bananas or carrots (keep whole and large) and offer those as frozen chew treats.
Although they won’t last long, it will give significant relief from the heat quickly.
7. Have a dedicated “cool room” in the house
This tip made all the difference while I was living in southeast Asia in very hot conditions. I ensured my dogs had what we so elegantly named the “cool room.” This room had air-conditioning on at all times, had UV blinds to reflect the sun, and a basic fan to create some airflow.
This room was constantly accessible for the dogs, even If I was out, and was always at a much lower temperature than outside. If you can create something similar, your collie will always have a place that she knows she can retreat to whenever she gets too hot. This is invaluable and will make the summers incredibly easy for your collie to handle.
8. Damp towels in the shade
Another great way to keep your collie cool while enjoying time outside in the yard is to put down a few damp towels in the shade. The towels don’t have to be soaking, just lightly damp.
Encourage your collie to lay there with a few toys and treats (it might take a little getting used to), but eventually, she’ll come around to it. The dampness will keep your collie cool in hot temperatures for a long time, especially if there is a slight breeze.
9. Get a paddling pool
Paddling pools for dogs are an awesome addition to any yard in the summer. There’s no better way to entertain your collie (which we all know is super important) AND keep her cool than splashing around in a paddling pool.
You could also use it as an opportunity to teach your collie how to swim. But, of course, basic safety precautions should be taken, like a doggy lifejacket and only letting her around the pool with supervision.
5 Signs Your Border Collie Is Too Hot
It’s also important to know what signs your collie will demonstrate when she’s too hot. If you see these signs, you can act accordingly and help her cool down.
1. Panting (to some extent)
A certain amount of panting is to be expected, as it’s one of the primary ways your collie has to cool herself down. Just because she’s panting it doesn’t mean she’s too hot.
Excessive panting (with no relief) is when It becomes something more serious. If your collie is panting extremely fast without any signs of slowing down, it’s time for her to go inside a cool room with fresh water and even a damp towel to lay on.
2. Bright red/blue gums
When your collie is too hot, her gums will turn bright red (or even blueish). The reason this happens is due to a lack of oxygen. If you see this sign, find a way to cool her down immediately.
3. Vomiting or diarrhea
If your collie has any bouts of diarrhea or vomiting on a hot day, this could indicate she’s become too hot. Unfortunately, these are also common symptoms of heat stroke and even dehydration.
Bring your collie inside a cool room, and encourage her to drink as much water as possible. You might need to add some ice cubes to the bowl or add a little chicken stock to the water.
If your collie shows signs of disorientation or outright dizziness, it’s another indicator she’s way too hot. Disorientation can be anything from walking in circles, shaking, weakness, unable to get up or stand, erratic eye movements, or unusual head-tilting.
If you notice any of these signs, seek to cool her down immediately, and it’s worth a call to the veterinarian for further advice.
Similarly to above, if your collie collapses or doesn’t have the strength to stand, this is another serious sign that the heat has gone too far.
In this case, it’s important to try and cool her down as much as possible wherever she is. And call your veterinarian for further advice. They may even send someone around or ask you to bring your collie in for a health check.
Avoiding Heatstroke & Dehydration
The two worst outcomes for any border collie throughout summer are heatstroke and dehydration.
⭐ Dehydration is not only a symptom of heat stroke, but it can also be the cause of it, to begin with. Remaining properly hydrated will mean your collie will better regulate her own body temperature through sweating and panting.
It’s absolutely crucial to avoid dehydration as it can cause so many further health complications, that could even be fatal in extreme conditions.
⭐ Heatstroke is another serious situation that we do not want our collie to experience. Heatstroke can happen after prolonged periods in the sun or even the shade if the temperatures are very high. Heatstroke can happen quickly and is usually unnoticeable at first, until later on in the day when your collie will start to feel very ill, dizzy, nauseous, and even vomit.
Keeping your collie out of midday sun and heat, as well as ensuring she drinks sufficient amounts of water are the two most effective ways of avoiding heatstroke and dehydration.
Shaving Her Coat Will Not Cool Her Down
Shaving your collie’s coat will not help, in fact, it would make matters a lot worse.
Double-coated breeds have two layers, the undercoat and the topcoat. Both have crucial roles, especially the topcoat responsible for UV blocking and preventing bugs from reaching the skin. These capabilities are not possible if her coat has been cut.
Cutting her coat not only makes her vulnerable to sunburn, but it could prevent it from growing back properly. In addition, if any matting occurs (which it usually does after being cut), it could lead to further overheating, as her coat won’t be able to shed properly.
I know it makes sense to think your collie will “feel cooler” if she has a haircut, but the truth is that she won’t and the potential issues from having a haircut are serious ones that any owner should want to avoid.
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