10 tips to care for your dog in the heat

Hot weather can be uncomfortable for dogs. Read our top 10 ways to care for them in the heat.

1. Know how to spot heatstroke

Heatstroke is one of the most common illnesses in dogs during warm weather and happens when your dog is no longer able to regulate their body temperature.

Symptoms include excessive panting and drooling, very red gums, vomiting or diarrhoea and weakness. If left unchecked, heatstroke can be fatal.

It’s important to keep an eye on your dog during hot weather to ensure they don’t overheat. Never leave them alone in a car, even with the windows open, and make sure they have plenty of shady spots in the garden to sit in when things get too hot.

Head to our heatstroke advice page to find out how to prevent it and what to do in an emergency.

 

2. Apply dog-friendly sun cream

Just like humans, dogs can suffer from sunburn if they’re not properly protected. Breeds with short or white hair with pink ears are more at risk, so you need to be extra careful to shield them from the sun’s rays.

Applying dog-specific sun cream to the sensitive areas of your dog (nose, lips, tips of the ears and belly) and keeping them out of the sun during the hottest part of the day is essential.

Speak to your vet for advice on dog-friendly sun cream and your pet’s needs.

 

3. Circulate cool air

Keep your home cool and comfortable by setting up a few fans in various rooms or, if you have it, air conditioning.

This will help prevent your dog from becoming too hot and give them a refreshing place to retreat to when they get too warm. Keeping curtains or blinds drawn will also minimise the amount of heat that comes through windows.

Remember to keep oscillating fans and exposed cables out of paws reach to keep your dog safe.

 

4. Keep them hydrated

Dogs need to drink plenty of water during warm weather to prevent dehydration. Providing lots of fresh, clean water is essential, whether at home, in the garden or out on walks.

There are lots of ways you can encourage your dog to drink more, including playing with garden sprinklers, making pet ice lollies and flavouring their drinking water. You may also want to invest in a travel water bowl to ensure they have something to drink while out and about.

Visit our advice page to find out how to keep your pet hydrated.

 

5. Damp towels

Dogs cool themselves down from the bottom up, so it’s important that their paws and stomach don’t get too hot. Laying out damp towels or blankets for them to lie on is a simple, effective way to keep your dog cool in the heat.

Simply run the towel under a cold tap and wring out the excess water to create a portable cooling mat anywhere in your house or garden. Remember to refresh it regularly to maintain the effect.

 

  • 40°C - the temperature at which your dog can no longer regulate their body temperature.
  • 43°C - the temperature inside your car after half an hour on a mild, 23°C day.
  • 10 minutes - the time it takes for the inside of your car to hit 43°C when it's 32°C outside.
  • 54°C - the temperature your car will reach after 30 minutes in 35°C weather.
  • 'Not long' - the time it takes for your dog to suffer from potentially fatal heatstroke.

Don't leave your dog in a hot car this summer.

 

6. Provide shady spots

If your dog loves to play out in the garden, it’s important to give them lots of shaded areas where they can relax away from the sun.

Shade created by trees is better than a dog house as it allows air to circulate freely. Be aware of how the sun moves throughout the day to ensure your dog always has a shady spot to sit in.

You could even set up a shaded, makeshift den with their water bowl, a damp towel to sit on and their favourite toys, to encourage them to keep out of the hot sun.

 

7. Less exercise

While it’s always important to ensure your dog gets plenty of exercise, you may need to reduce this slightly during warm weather. Too much physical exertion can cause your dog to quickly overheat and become dehydrated.

Instead of running, walk with your dog and avoid exercise during the middle of the day. Don’t forget to remind children to keep energetic games to a minimum during hot weather.

 

8. Switch up your walking routine

It may be tempting to head out for a nice long walk on a hot, sunny day, but this can carry risks for your dog.

Scorching hot pavements, asphalt and artificial grass can burn their paws and cause severe pain, even on short walks. Even on a pleasant, breezy day, the temperature of asphalt and tarmac can rise to 52°C when the sun is at its highest.

Walking your dog early in the morning or in the evening when the ground has cooled down will protect their paws. If you’re not sure if it’s too hot, place the back of your hand on the ground for seven seconds. If you struggle to hold it down, it’s too hot to walk your dog.

 

9. Regular grooming

Grooming your dog can help them regulate their temperature, particularly if they have long or thick fur.

As well as regular brushing to get rid of shedding fur, consider clipping it shorter to allow more air to cool the skin’s surface.

Never shave your dog, as doing so can make them susceptible to sunburn. Instead, speak to your vet or dog groomer for their advice about your dog’s summer coat.

 

10. Get wet

Playing in and around water is a great way to keep your dog cool in hot weather while they’re having fun.

Try setting up a sprinkler or a shallow paddling pool in the garden to refresh them while they play. Always take care to watch your pet when they’re playing around water and never let them swim unsupervised.

For more advice about caring for your dog in the heat, speak to a member of your local Medivet practice.

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