Keeping your dog cool in hot weather is all about being prepared and thinking ahead. As well as having fun when the weather gets nicer it’s important to think about keeping your dog safe in the heat. The aim is to reduce the risk of heatstroke and make sure your dog stays healthy and happy. We’ve put together our top hot weather dog care tips, so you can enjoy the sun and keep your dog safe.
PLAN YOUR WALKS
Avoid walking your dog if the weather is hot as dogs are not able to cope in the heat as well as humans can. Even a warm day can predispose dogs to overheat, especially if they’re exercising. Consider if your dog may be safer going for a gentle walk very early or late in the evening when the temperature has significantly reduced or do some stimulating activities at home. Be mindful of the weather when planning a walk and take regular breaks in the shade.
ALWAYS REMEMBER WATER
Water is essential for your dog all year round, especially on a hot day. If you’re out and about with your dog, make sure you always have a bottle of water and a bowl for them to drink from.
LOOK OUT FOR SIGNS OF HEAT STROKE
Dogs suffer with heatstroke when they overheat. Heatstroke develops when a dog can’t reduce their body temperature and it can be fatal. This can happen not just when it’s hot but also in warm temperatures. It is important to know how to avoid it and be aware of the signs as it requires urgent veterinary treatment.
Any dog can develop heatstroke, but overweight, young, elderly, flat-faced, giant-breed, and thick-coated dogs are particularly at risk, even from just sitting out in hot weather.
Signs of heatstroke include:
- Heavy panting
- Confusuion or loss of coordination
- Drooling or foaming at the mouth
- Vomiting or diarrhoea
- Shaking or weakness
If you think your dog has heatstroke, you need to ACT FAST. Make sure you contact your vet immediately. While contacting the vets:
- Move the dog to a shaded and cool area
- Keep them calm and still
- Put them on top of a cool wet towel, cooling mat or place them in the breeze of a fan
- Allow the dog to drink small amounts of cool water
- Pour cool water over the dog’s feet, ears and head. Never use ice or very cold water as this can cause shock
- Gradually start to move cool water over their body but not too much that they start shivering.
- If possible, continue cooling your dog on the way to your vet
PROTECT YOUR DOG’S PAWS FROM HOT SURFACES
Surfaces which heat up in the sun, such as tarmac or sand, can be painful for your dog’s paws. If in doubt, check for yourself. If it feels too hot for you to touch, the chances are your dog’s thinking the same, so try to stick to grassy or shaded areas instead.
USE UP THEIR ENERGY IN DIFFERENT WAYS
In warmer weather, it’s a good idea to find ways to use up your dog’s mental and physical energy which are less strenuous. For example, if they usually like to run for hours at a time this could be detrimental in hotter temperatures. Instead, you could hide their toys or treats in a small area and let them sniff them out, or you could freeze their food or use frozen treats in toys or food puzzle toys to keep them stimulated. You could also use toys or treats to encourage your dog to spend some time in a shaded paddling pool. Whatever activities you choose, make sure they are calm and out of the heat.
NEVER LEAVE DOGS IN CARS
Leaving a dog alone in a hot car can be fatal – even parked in the shade with the windows open, dogs can become distressed and uncomfortable and develop heat stroke very quickly. Make sure you always have a plan, so your dog isn’t left alone in the car or any other enclosed spaces. If you see a dog in a hot car, dial 999.
You should avoid travelling in your car with your dog on a hot day. If you do need to travel, make sure that you use shade covers on the windows, so they don’t have direct sun on them whilst you are travelling. If possible cool your car down and have the air conditioning on before putting your dog in. Avoid travelling at hotter times of the day and consider travelling when there is less traffic, so you don’t get stuck for long periods of time. Ensure your dog has access to water throughout the journey – there are some great non-splash travel bowls available on the market.
KEEP YOUR DOG FIT AND HEALTHY
It’s important to help your dog stay as fit and healthy as possible all year round, whatever that looks like for them. During warmer weather, it’s especially important to help them maintain a healthy weight. Your dog will likely be less active when it’s hot, so it can be a good idea to adjust the amount of food you give them to reflect how much energy they are using up. It’s a great opportunity to practice basic tricks and training indoors where it is cooler to keep up your great relationship and help keep your dog’s brain active.
Speak to your vet if you are concerned about your dog’s weight or want advice on how to safely support your dog to lose weight.
BE CAREFUL LETTING THEM SWIM
It can be tempting to encourage your dog to swim, especially when the weather is warmer. Be mindful that some places can be unsafe and might have strong currents that can be dangerous, or algae and bacteria which could make your dog sick.
Instead, try to find clear, clean shallow streams your dog can paddle in briefly to cool off, ensure you provide them with separate clean water in a water bowl for them to drink and continue with your walk in the coolest parts of the day.
REMEMBER REGULAR GROOMING
Regular grooming or clipping will keep your dog’s coat clean, and free of knots, and can even help them keep cool. Speak to a professional groomer as they will know what’s best for your dog and their specific coat
We keep back doors and front door wide open, windows both sides of the house open to get a good flow of air, curtains also remain closed, patio doors on hot days remain closed and their curtains closed. We have a cool tiled floor in the kitchen and 2 large cool mats that the dogs never use!
I think that fat/overweight dogs suffer far more than a slim dog, many of the overweight dogs are panting as a normal every day thing and that’s without any hot weather.
Keeping our dogs slim will help them tremendously.
But if it is warm, or on holiday, we use a cool coat, stay / walk in shaded areas, walk at cooler times of the day, and feed cold foods (I made frozen yoghurt with berries last week, apparently this is the food of the devil and he won’t touch it).
Well we have a whippet and just went through last week’s extreme heatwave. Someone have told me in the past to put a wet bandana around their neck when doing walks and that helped a lot. And also I followed a similar principal at home when it was really hot and put a wet tank top around him which really helped as he stopped panting and was able to relax.