Not only can the hot weather in summer be uncomfortable for you, but it can also be dangerous for your dog.
Making sure you know how to help your pooch cool down when the temperatures rise is important for their happiness and their health, so here’s what you need to know about looking after your dog in the summer.
Signs of heatstroke in dogs
Dogs don’t tolerate heat as well as humans do as they can’t sweat through their skin. Instead, they rely on panting and releasing heat through their nose and paw pads to cool themselves down and regulate their temperature. This means they are at a greater risk of heatstroke.
When dogs are not able to regulate their temperature and keep it at a comfortable level, they can develop heatstroke. This can become fatal within minutes.
Signs of heatstroke include:
- High body temperature
- Collapsing or staggering
- Signs of confusion
- Heavy panting
- Excessive drooling
- Racing heart
If your dog displays these symptoms, you should get them urgent treatment immediately. However, once you notice the signs, the damage is often done so it is better to ensure you are taking preventative measures.
Dogs and hot cars
Cars can become hot incredibly quickly, even with a window cracked open or when it doesn’t feel particularly hot outside. If the temperature outside is 22°C, the temperature inside a car can reach 47°C within an hour.
This is why you should never leave a dog in the car, even for just a few minutes. Doing so can leave them to overheat and develop heatstroke incredibly quickly.
If you spot a dog in distress in a car on a hot day, you should call the police using 999 as it is classed as an emergency. The police will advise you what to do. You should never break into a car to free a dog without proper justification as this can be classed as criminal damage.
Walking your dog in summer
Your dog needs regular exercise, but walking them when it is hot can lead to heatstroke or burnt paws. When temperatures are rising, you may need to change your routine to ensure you’re walking when it’s cooler.
Taking your dog out early in the morning or in the evening when it’s cooler is the best option. You should also check that the pavement isn’t too hot for them, as this can hurt their paw pads. Check the pavement by putting your hand on it for five seconds, if it’s too hot for you, it will be too hot for them.
You should also lookout for signs of burned pads, including:
- Limping or refusing to walk
- Licking or chewing their feet
- Pads being a darker colour
- Missing part of a pad
- Blisters or redness
If you spot any of these signs, you should take your dog to your vet to be checked over.
Keeping dogs cool in summer
It isn’t just being inside hot cars that can put dogs at risk of heatstroke. If they cannot cool down – even if they are in your house or garden – they can become very ill. Luckily, there are plenty of things you can do to keep your dog cool and comfortable during the summer months:
- Make sure your dog can access clean water at all times, including when you are walking them.
- Provide them with access to a shaded area so they can avoid direct sunlight if they get too hot.
- Circulate cool air by setting up a fan near their favourite spot.
- Lay down damp towels or blankets for your dog to lie on or get them a cooling mat.
- If they are in the garden, set up a paddling pool in the shade for them.
- Apply dog-friendly suncream to sensitive areas – like their nose, lips, tips of their ears and belly – to protect them from the sun. Do not use human suncream as this can be toxic.