How to look after dogs in hot weather
Summertime is lovely, a time when we’re all out and about in the sunshine. But just like humans, dogs can easily get too hot and just like us, it can make them poorly. Here’s how to look after your dog properly in hot weather, all the information you need about how to keep your dog cool.
Can a dog get sunstroke? Yes, they can
Dog heat exhaustion is a horrible thing and can make them very poorly. It can even kill. Short nosed dogs such like bulldogs, boxers and pugs are particularly vulnerable to dog heatstroke, as are older dogs and overweight dogs.
As a general rule, if you find it uncomfortably hot your dog will probably be suffering too. To help prevent dog sunstroke, also known as dog heatstroke, make sure your dog has a constant supply of clean, fresh water and always carry water – and a bowl – with you on walks, bus and train trips, and car journeys.
On very hot days, it’s best to walk your dog at cooler times of day, ideally in the early morning and the late evening.
What are the main signs of heatstroke?
Dogs don’t sweat through their skin, instead they rely on panting and getting rid of excess heat through their paw pads and nose. In fact, their thick fur means heatstroke is a bigger risk to them than it is to us – we can take our clothes off, they can’t!
Understanding the signs of heatstroke in a dog is very important because a dog can suffer heatstroke in just a few minutes, and once they start showing symptoms the damage is often already done. The signs of heatstroke in a dog include dramatic panting. But you can also get:
- A bright red or purple-blue tongue
- Excessive drooling
What is the best way to cool a dog down?
So, how can you cool your dog down? If your dog is too hot, move them to a cooler place immediately, in the shade if you’re out and about or a cool room if you’re at home. It’s best, if you can manage it, to create a draught or find somewhere with a breeze. Wetting them with cool water – not too cold or you can shock them – from the bottom up, legs, feet and tummy first them back and head should also help cool them down. Once you’ve cooled them off a bit so they’re no longer in distress, it is advisable to contact your vet asap.
As a precaution, you could also try making dog food ice cubes, a fun way to cool your dog down with tasty snacks, or even freeze your dog’s favourite toys to give them something lovely and chilled to play with.
How to keep a dog cool in a hot car
Never, ever leave a dog alone in a hot car, even with the windows open. It isn’t worth the risk, since dogs can go downhill with heatstroke so quickly, often without much warning.
How to keep a dog house cool in summer
It can be hot at night, too. If your dog’s kennel is in the sunshine during the day, move it into a shady spot so it stays nice and cool, and doesn’t radiate heat all night. You can use a desk fan to keep the air cool, directing the air inside the doghouse for a fresh breeze. Always leave lots of cool water in a bowl so they don’t get dehydrated overnight.
How to keep a dog cool in a hot house
If you are worried about keeping your dog cool in a hot house, put your dog in a room without direct sunlight streaming in, leaving plenty of cool water to drink and drawing the curtains to keep the heat at bay. Open windows if you can, to create a through-draught. A fan is a good idea because it moves the air around, and putting the fan in front of a big bowl of ice will generate a lovely cold breeze for your dog to enjoy. If you have air conditioning, use it.
Keep your dog cool in summer – protecting dog paws in hot weather
If you’ve ever walked on hot sand at the beach on a steaming hot summer’s day you’ll know it can be a painful experience! Dogs feel the same way – hot sand, roads, rocks and pavements can easily burn the pads of their feet. So what can you do to protect their paws? The easiest advice is to steer clear of hard surfaces or hot sand altogether and find some grass, or even better some shady woodland to enjoy together. You could also consider buying special dog booties which are designed to protect their pads.
How to keep your dog cool at night
Keeping your dog cool at night is just as important as keeping them cool during the day. If you can crack open a few windows to get a breeze flowing through the room, that’s great. Air conditioning works beautifully to keep dogs nice and cool, and they need lots of fresh, clean water so they don’t get dehydrated. If you have heavy, hot curtains, keep them open to let the breeze flow through the room with ease.
How to keep your dog cool in the heat – 10 more hot weather tips for doggie safety and comfort
Here are some more sensible tips for keeping your dog comfortable and safe on a hot day.
- If you are keeping your dog outside during the day, make sure they have plenty of shade to hide from the sun in, at every time of the day
- Have fun playing with a water pistol or turn the lawn sprinkler on to help them stay cool
- Swimming, whether in the sea or fresh water, is a great way to keep chilled. Just take the usual common sense safety precautions around water, in exactly the same way as you would with small children
- Put out a water-filled kids paddling pool for your dog to lie in
- Keep an extra-careful eye open for ticks and fleas, both of which thrive in hot weather
- If your dog seems reluctant to go outdoors on a hot day, let them stay in or stay at home – they’re clever animals and they know when it’s dangerously hot
- If your dog isn’t used to a pool, river, pond or the sea, monitor them very closely while they’re in the water – perhaps surprisingly, not all dogs are good swimmers
- Always hose your dog down after a swim, especially important when there’s chlorine or salt in the water
- If your dog has long hair, get a cool trim for the summer
- If you’re having a BBQ, keep your dog away from the fire and don’t let them eat human food, much of which is bad for dogs and some of which can even kill