Looking after your dog on hot days

dog hot weather summer advice

While we’re enjoying the lovely summer weather, all pet owners need to bear in mind how they can take some easy measures to keep their pets happy and healthy on the hottest days.

Unlike us, dogs can’t sweat through their skin and so rely on panting and to a more limited extent on releasing heat through their paw pads and nose in order to keep cool. When a dog becomes so warm they are no longer able to regulate their body temperature with these measures, they can develop heatstroke. Without swift treatment this can lead to organ failure and ultimately be fatal.

Heatstroke risk factors
• Being left in a hot car, room or garden. Dogs can die in hot cars in as little as 15 minutes
• Over-exertion (particularly in young, very active dogs who don’t know their own limits)
• Being overweight, unfit or elderly
• Having pre-existing medical conditions like heart disease
• Breed type (flat faced and heavily coated breeds are at higher risk)

Symptoms of heatstroke
• Panting heavily
• Appearing lethargic, drowsy or uncoordinated
• Vomiting
• Drooling excessively
• Collapse and unconsciousness
• Dark reddish-purple gums

What to do
• If you suspect heatstroke, contact your vet. Do this immediately – this is a life-threatening emergency. Take your vet’s advice over the phone
• Offer water
• Move them to a cool place, if possible with a fan or air conditioner
• Wet their coat with tepid (but not cold/freezing water) – this could be a hose, a cool bath or sponged on with a wet towel
• Keep them cool en route to the vet – ensure good air flow through the car

Prevention
• Provide constant access to water. This includes during walks; consider taking a collapsible bowl and water bottle, or choose walking routes near clean water sources
• Provide shade when outdoors
• During hot weather, exercise your dog during the early morning or late evening. Consider restricting exercise, especially for dogs with risk factors. Play some ‘brain games’ at home instead to stimulate them mentally
• NEVER leave your dog alone in the car, even for “we’ll only be a few minutes.” Parking in the shade or opening the windows does not make it safe
• Don’t make your dog walk on hot pavements/surfaces. If it is too hot for your hand, it is too hot for your dog’s feet