Recently a heatwave has swept over the UK, with temperatures reaching 30 degrees Celsius and above in some areas. Whilst soaking up the sun is enjoyable for us humans, it can be dangerous and even life-threatening for our furry companions. This is because dogs can’t sweat through their skin, they depend on releasing heat through their nose and paw pads, as well as panting. This means they don’t have a lot of places to sweat and release heat, therefore too much heat can be dangerous for them as they can’t release it as efficiently as us.
Some dogs cope better in the heat than others. I know of some dogs on Instagram that really struggle and some that don’t. Some type of dogs are more at risk, such as: very young or old dogs, heavy, thick coated dog breeds, darker coloured dogs and short-nosed dogs like pugs and bulldogs.
If your dog gets too hot heatstroke can occur which can be fatal within minutes. Therefore, even if your dog doesn’t seem affected by the heat, it is still important to be vigilant and sensible.
Signs of heatstroke include:
- Heavy panting
- Extreme thirst
- Excessive drooling
- Seeming lethargic or uncoordinated
If you think your dog has heatstroke, call your vet immediately and keep your dog in a shaded area whilst you wait, cover them with wet towels and offer small amounts of cool drinking water.
There are many things you can do to try to prevent heatstroke from occurring, such as:
- Do not leave your pet in a hot car, even if the window is open a dog can still die within minutes of being left in a car in the heat.
- Have plenty of cool, fresh water available to keep them hydrated.
- Make sure your dog has access to shaded areas.
- Buy your dog a cooling coat and/or a cooling mat to help their body temperature remain stable. If you can’t afford this, laying a wet towel down for them to lay on will do just fine.
- Buy a paddling pool: it’s a fun way to keep your dog cool!
- Give them frozen treats, e.g. an ice cube with a treat inside – it gives them a refreshing challenge! We also sometimes give Max a Kong with frozen (dog friendly) peanut butter inside, he loves it.
- Avoid walking them when it’s too hot, stick to walks in the early mornings and late evenings when it’s cooler – If your dog is in need of stimulation, mental stimulation is a great alternative, e.g. treat puzzles, ‘find it’ games or trick training.
This chart shows what temperatures are likely to be too hot for dogs depending on their size:
Don’t forget, if the pavement is too hot for you to keep your hand on for 5 seconds, then it’s too hot for your dog to walk on. It can burn their paws, putting them in a lot of discomfort and pain. Swimming is also a good alternative to walking as it’s a great form of exercise that helps build muscle and is a fun way to cool them down (do not force your dog into water if they are not comfortable with doing so). Whilst it’s enjoyable to let you dog have a swim, keep the amount of swim time limited to avoid water intoxication.
We recently attended Dog Fest where there was a doggy ice cream van, as soon as I saw it I knew I had to treat Max to one and, not to my surprise, he devoured it! It’s a great, tasty and refreshing summer treat for pooches, so whilst you’re enjoying a delicious ice cream your dog can be too – no furry friends have to miss out!
I hope you find this blog helpful. Remember stay safe and have fun!
Thanks for reading,
Charlotte & Maximus x