Unprecedented heat is expected in the UK over the coming days, with the Met Office issuing a national emergency extreme heat alert and a red weather warning. It is vital that you keep your dog cool in the summer heat. Hot temperatures can be lethal to dogs within just 15 minutes if precautions are not taken. Heatstroke in dogs is extremely dangerous and it is serious enough to kill. The key thing is to prevent your dog from overheating and ensure they stay cool and shaded. For more specific information on this, heatstroke symptoms that you should look out for and any actions you can take, please check the RSPCA website.
Walk your dog in the early morning or late evening
The sun is at peak strength during the middle of the day between 10am and 3pm. However, temperatures can be strongest at any time between 8am and 8pm, so you should always attempt to walk your dog outside those hours. The pavements can also get dangerously hot for little paws. Place the back of your hand on the pavement. If you can’t take the heat for more than a second or two, neither can your dog. When temperatures rise above 30 degrees, do not walk your dog.
Never leave your dog in a car, a sun trap or a hot room
Temperatures in cars, conservatories, greenhouses and sun traps can rise very quickly, even when the windows are left open. This can be very rapidly lead to heatstroke and that could easily become fatal. For more information on what you can do if you find a dog trapped in a car, the Kennel Club have excellent advice on this matter. Avoid long car journeys during the day and give your dog access to cooler rooms in your house.
Access to drinking water and shade
Keep replenishing your dog’s bowl with cool water and encourage them to drink more regularly than usual. If it’s absolutely essential to be outside with your dog, make sure you take plenty of water with you and stay in shaded areas. If you notice your dog panting, it’s a sign that they need to cool down. Excessive panting may be a sign of heatstroke, which is why it’s important to only take your dog outside once the temperature has cooled right down. It’s much better to keep your dog indoors so they can stay cool and rehydrate themselves.
Limit exercise and play indoors
Dogs love to get outside and will probably demand their daily walk at some point during the day. Limit vigorous exercise or activities during the hot weather and only go outside with your dog before 8am or after 8pm. It’s always best to stay inside during the day but you can still try some basic training games that don’t involve too much exercise. Your attention will probably be enough to keep them entertained before they have their siesta.
Get a cooling mat
Cooling mats provide comfort for your dog during the hot weather. It’s a mat that they can sit or lay on to get relief from the heat. Most cooling mats work because they contain non-toxic self cooling gel. This gel is typically at least 5 degrees lower than room temperature. Our Lhasa Apso Poppy is currently obsessed with hers. We’re not surprised considering how hot and humid it is. We have placed it directly in front of a fan and she sits there in the hottest part of the day. We’d recommend taking a look on Amazon for their full selection of cooling mats, but there’s also some great ones sold at Pets at Home or even local pet stores.
Use a paddling pool
Paddling pools are fun for all the family but that can include your dog too. Get one especially for them and fill it up just a small amount so they can dip their paws in. Make sure you put the paddling pool in a shaded area of the garden so the water stays cold. It’s a great way to let your dog cool off if they’ve been outside in the sun. Keep your dog hydrated, well shaded and out of the midday sun. There’s lots of paddling pools available at Amazon, but you can also try out Argos or eBay to find the bargains.
Stay safe this summer
Humans and dogs alike in the UK are not built for heatwaves. The key message is to keep your dog inside during the part of the day when temperatures are peaking. Heatstroke can quickly cause death and is extremely serious. Do not underestimate how quickly it can take hold if you are unprepared. Take extra precautions. Keep your dog well hydrated, give them plenty of shade and never exercise or walk them between 8am and 8pm on a hot day.
We’ve included a fantastic infographic below from Vetsnow which explains heatstroke in greater detail and provides some useful advice on what to do if you’re worried. If at any point you are concerned about the health of your dog, contact your vet immediately.