Summer Care

Yorkshire Terrier Summer Care


As the seasons change from one to the next, adjustments must be made in caring for your Yorkie. And summer, with its hot sunny weather, is certainly an important season to prepare for. In America, summer officially starts at the summer solstice (normally June 20 or 21) and ends at the autumn equinox (September 20), but try telling that to Mother Nature! In certain parts of the U.S. hot days can sneak in well before June. And some of you may be living in a location in which the weather is generally always hot. 


While nice sunny weather and high temperatures may be a joy for many of us, it can take its toll on a dog, especially toy breeds dogs like the Yorkie. Everything from exercise to avoiding sun glare to dehydration to possible bug bites will come into play. 


So whether you will be dealing with hot weather for 4 or 5 months per year or all year round, understanding how this will affect your Yorkshire Terrier, planning for the season and making appropriate care changes will help keep your Yorkie happy and healthy. 


Exercise in the Summer


One of the biggest challenges for owners is to keep up with a regular exercise routine for their dogs. Life can get in the way as we rush around for work and other responsibilities and weather can certainly get in the way as well. Routine exercise is very important, not just for a Yorkie’s physical health, but for his emotional health as well. Some of the benefits of daily exercise include:


• Conditioning of the body; it’s healthy for the heart and aids in maintaining muscle tone


• Energy release. When a dog does not have purposely outdoor exercise and is not allowed to release pent-up energy, this can cause the dog to feel antsy. This, in turn, can lead to unwanted behavior such as barking and destructive chewing.


• Emotional well-being. Two elements come into play. 

First, canines need to do canine things in order to feel content, this includes using their canine senses. When outside on their walks, able to make use of their incredible hearing and scent senses, as well as being able to see new things, this makes for a happy dog. The second part of this is that most dogs have incredible inner time clocks and know that a walk is ‘supposed’ to happen. If it does not, a dog can become restless.


Summer Care Tips for Exercise – There are several steps you can take to not let hot weather get in the way of keeping your Yorkie happy and healthy in regard to exercise:


1) Try to schedule 2 daily walks, with one in the morning before 10 AM and one later in the evening about 1 hour before the sun sets; these are the coolest parts of the day. If your Yorkie normally is brought out for a walk mid-day, more tips are ahead. 


2) Reassess the walking route. If the route offers little shade, the walking surfaces may be too hot and the beating sun may prove to be too stressful. If possible, make changes to a route that offers more shade and/or stick to grassy areas. In addition, do protect the paws (more ahead).


3) Bring along water. We recommend a canine water container in which the lid serves as a bowl. These are easy to bring along, and be sure to add an ice cube to keep the water cool. Plan for a break halfway through, for your Yorkie to rest in the shade and rehydrate. 


4) Make use of a canine cooling vest for times that your Yorkie will be walking in the hot weather (more ahead) for more than 20 minutes. 


5) Know the signs of heat stress so that you can take immediate steps to help stop this from developing into heat stroke. 

Signs of Heat Stroke


Heat stroke in dogs can be a tricky thing, because this can really sneak up on you. Even if you take precautions and even if you yourself feel fine, your Yorkshire Terrier may be struggling. It all begins when a dog’s body has a hard time maintaining proper internal temperature. Normally, a dog’s temperature is between 101 to 102.5 degrees F (38.3 to 39.2 degrees C). Heat stress is when that rises to 103 Fahrenheit (39.44 C) and left untreated it can easily turn into heat stroke, at which time dog’s temperature will be 106 F (44.11 C) or more which is considered life threatening. 


During the summer, no matter where you are with your Yorkie, keep an eye out for the signs of this. Symptoms include heavy panting, drooling, red gums and/or decrease urination. If the dog cannot cool down, this can progress to confused behavior, trouble walking and/or rapid heartbeat. Untreated, it can quickly spiral into coma and eventual death as the organs cannot properly function. 


What to do: If you suspect that your Yorkie is becoming overheated, immediately seek shelter in an air-conditioned home, gently covering his body with wet towels (do not use ice). Using fans to circulate the air can be helpful as well. If you are out and about and that is not possible, it is best to bring him to a cool, shaded area. You will want to wet the body down with water, and this is just another reason why you should always bring water with you when you take your Yorkshire Terrier outside. 

Most veterinarian recommend cooling a dog down to a body temperature of 103F before trying to transport him to the clinic; so do make a phone call first. And for this reason, we do suggest making sure you have a canine thermometer both in your home’s first aid kit and in your carry bag when away from home. 


Preventing heat stroke – Much of the advice on this page for Yorkie summer care will prevent heat stroke, with the main elements being: Do not exercise your dog during the hottest parts of the day, have your Yorkie take activity breaks every 15 minutes with that time spent resting in the shade and having a cool drink, offer plenty of water at all times throughout the day and use cooling elements to keep a dog from get too hot (next section). 


Helping a Yorkie Stay Cool and Comfortable in the Summer


There’s lots of things you can do to keep your Yorkie more comfortable when it’s hot outside and some of these will certainly come in handy should your air conditioning break or if there is a power outage; this something every owner should prepare for. 

The Coat – One of the wonderful things about the Yorkshire Terrier breed is that owners can have the coat trimmed or cut to just about any length. You may want to consider an easy-to-maintain short summer hair cut for your Yorkie, however do take note that the coat offers a level of protection from the rays of the summer sun; if the hair is clipped too short, this leaves the skin vulnerable to sunburn. 

Indoor Area – During the summer, it’s important to reassess the areas in which your Yorkie generally spends his day. What may have been a perfectly fine location at other times of the year, may not work during the summer season. During the summer, the angle of the sun’s ray is much different than the winter; the rays strike the ground more directly. Add to this the longer days during summertime, and you may find that the spot where your Yorkie rests and plays now has the sun beating down into it through windows. 


And it is important to take note of this, because if you are gone for work and your Yorkie is home alone, you won’t be there to see this. And most often, on weekends when owners are home, a puppy or dog is not put into his area as he would be during the week.  


Another element to keep in mind is the location of your air conditioning; while you certainly want your Yorkie to have AC in the house, if the cool air is blowing out directly onto your dog all day, this can make him extremely uncomfortable.


Outdoors – There are several great options: 


1. Cooling mat. One of the best summer care items to keep a Yorkie comfortable is a canine cooling mat. The ones that we highly recommend are self-cooling, which means that they do not need to be plugged in or put in the fridge first. These are pads that have a pressure activation gel; when a dog sits or lies down on it, the gel ‘turns on’. Do note that these do not feel cool to the touch (when you place your hand on it, it will feel like a regular resting pad), however they work by drawing excess heat from a dog’s body.  


These are really great to use outside in the yard, are portable so that you can take them with you on picnics or out at the dog park and many owners also find that their Yorkie appreciates a break from the heat so much, that they use them indoors as well.  

In the case of a power outage during the summer, mats can be a life-saver.


2. Cooling accessory. If you are planning outdoor summer activities with your Yorkie, you may wish to look into a canine cooling harness or vest. These are appropriate for outings lasting several hours and are fantastic for owners who live in year-round hot weather conditions where walking a dog in hot weather is the only option. Similar to the above mentioned mats, these vests contain a special gel that absorbs a dog’s excess body heat, allowing him to better withstand hot conditions. 


Another option is a canine cooling bandana and while these will not work as effectively as the harness, they do provide some relief (and look cute).  


3. Play water. One of the best ways to keep a dog cool when outdoors and certainly one of the methods Yorkies find to be the most fun is a kiddie pool. Whether your Yorkie jumps in and out or simply stands put, being in water can dramatically cool a dog down and prevent him from overheating. Another option is to set up a sprinkler, as most dogs love chasing the water and will end up soaked down in the process.


4. Summertime Treats – Summer is often celebrated with foods… barbecues, slices of watermelon and ice cream treats. So, if we humans enjoy these seasonal delights, shouldn’t our dogs have something special too? Well, as it turns out, there are some treats that not only are safe and delicious for dogs, but are appreciated during hot weather. What are they? Frozen fruit! Many fruits are super healthy snacks for dogs, they are water-packed, low in calories, packed with vitamin and anti-oxidants and many contain fiber which counteracts the absorption of natural sugars. You can freeze many fruits including banana slices, strawberries and blueberries. 


Another great summertime option is favored ice cubes. While dogs should not be given full apples to chew on, as their cores are toxic, apple juice is perfectly safe for dogs to drink… you can mix apple juice and water to make sweet ice cube snacks. Do be sure to always use 100% pure fruit juice and not anything artificially flavored.  


© Yorkies United 2015-2017