How to care for your dog in the hot weather

Some like it hot...but our dogs don't.

As our summer temperatures soar, many of us are wearing our shorts and vest tops.  We are lucky, we can change our clothes to suit the weather, but our dogs can’t. They have their fur coats on all year round, and cannot sweat like we can to cool ourselves down – all they can do is pant. Therefore, it is down to us to do our very best to keep them as cool as we can.

Dogs die in hot cars

With many of us dashing off on our summer holidays, visiting friends or even exploring a new park, it’s always nice to take your dog along with the family. However, as tempting as it may be to stop off at the shops and nip out to get something on your journey, never leave a dog unattended in a car. Even in moderately warm weather, the temperature in a car can soar up to a dangerous and unbearable 47 degrees. If you’re unable to stay in the car in this temperature, neither should your dog.

Dog theft

It’s also important to be aware of opportunists who may be on the lookout for cars with their windows open on hot days. Dog theft from unattended cars has increased significantly in the past couple of years. If you know you’re not going to be able to keep an eye on your dog at all times, it may be safer for them to stay home.


Heatstroke is a very real risk to our dogs. Whilst responsible dog owners will do all they can to avoid this situation, it is worth knowing what the symptoms of heatstroke are. They include panting, dribbling, confusion, unsteady of their feet, bright red gums, collapse, seizures, and even death.

When a dog’s body overheats, it can cause damage to their vital organs which leads them to fail. Heatstroke is a life threatening situation.

If you are ever in a situation where you feel your dog has over-heated, it is important to cool them down quickly. However, you can do more harm than good if you bring the body temperature down too quickly by using ice or very cold water. Instead, the dog should be placed in a shaded area where tepid water can be dribbled over them. Attention should be given to the head, neck and groin area. If a fan can be placed near the dog, that would help too. Please contact your vet as soon as possible if you feel your dog is suffering from heatstroke.

Some dogs are at a higher risk of getting into difficulties during hot weather. These include flat-faced breeds, large heavy-coated breeds, older dogs, dogs with ongoing health conditions, and overweight dogs. But don’t be fooled into thinking that if you own a dog that doesn’t fit into any of these groups, that yours will be ok.  Heatstroke can and does affect all dogs.


Top tips on keeping your dog cool

  • Keep your house cool. You can do this by ensuring that your doors, windows and curtains are closed during the daylight hours. You need to keep the heat outside!  A fan on the floor to help circulate the air is beneficial too. You may find that your dog enjoys laying in front of it.
  • You can also put plastic bottles of water in the freezer, and then wrap them in a damp towel. The dog can then choose to lay against them if they wish. We also recommend purchasing cool mats for your dog to lay on.
  • Be sure to stay on top of your grooming schedule. Getting rid of their dead undercoat is very important. Clipping the coat short in the areas that are in contact with the floor when your dog lays down will help them take advantage of laying on cooler surfaces.
  • A paddling pool in a shady area of your garden is also a fun way of keeping your dog cool.
  • Stuffing a Kong type toy and putting it in the freezer also provides your dog with its own version of an ice-lolly.
  • Your dog will be at most risk during its walk.  The coolest time of day is between 5am and 7am.  This is the best time to walk your dog.  It is also advisable to stay in shaded wooded areas. The last thing you want to do is take toys out for your dog to chase. Dogs are not very good at regulating themselves during play, and most will just keep going until it’s too late. Short walks so your dog can sniff about at a slow or steady pace is a much better way of fulling his needs. Remember, no dog has ever died from not having a walk, but sadly many have when walked in excessive heat.

Enjoy the heat but just remember, your dogs needs are very different to ours.

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