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How to keep your dog cool during a heatwave

As the weather gets warmer it can be difficult to know how to keep your dog cool. We’ve asked our dog experts for their advice on how to look after your dog during a heatwave.

Dogs and hot summer days aren’t a great combination.  Because dogs can’t sweat through their skin like humans can, they rely on panting and ditching excess body heat through their paw pads and nose. 

But there’s a lot we can do to keep our furry friends cool and comfortable when the sun really gets its hat on. 

Skip the walk

The first thing to remember is that no dog ever came to harm because they didn’t have their daily walk.  If it’s too hot outside, don’t take your dog out for a walk. It’s not kind and heatstroke can come on very quickly – and prove fatal.  Certain breeds of dog – especially flat-faced – can be more at risk of heatstroke, as are dogs that are unwell, overweight or more senior.  

Check pavement temperature

And it’s not just air temperature that you should take into consideration – check the pavement temperature by resting your hand on it and keeping it there for 5-10 seconds.  If it feels hot to your hand, it’s too hot for your dog’s paws. 

Artificial grass is becoming ever more popular but remember, it heats up extremely quickly and holds a high temperature for a long time. It can therefore really hurt your dog’s paws if they venture onto it. 

However, if you’re able to adjust your routine a little, you could take your dog for a walk when it’s cooler – early in the morning or later in the evening. Maybe vary your route to take in some more shaded areas or clean water (e.g. a clean stream) for your dog to have a drink and maybe a paddle! Some dogs love water but some don’t, so if your dog’s not keen, that’s fine too.  

But if you can’t walk your dog, never fear. There are plenty of ways to keep your dog entertained if they have to miss a walk. 

Never leave them in the car

Another important thing to remember is never, ever leave your dog in a hot conservatory or a car, even with the windows open – it’s just not a safe option, even for a short time. A car can become as hot as an oven, very quickly, even when it doesn’t feel that warm outdoors. When it’s 22 degrees outside, it can reach an unbearable 47 degrees within the hour in a car.  

Ten things you can do to help your dog in a heatwave:

  1. Always make sure your dog has access to plenty of fresh drinking water. 
  2. You could also pop some ice cubes in there to keep it cooler for longer. There has been some confusion recently about whether it’s ok to give dog ice cubes. In short, in most cases, giving a healthy dog ice cubes is absolutely fine but you can read more about giving your dog ice here.  
  3. Freeze some of their tasty treats in water then allow your dog to get them out of the ice. Banana, carrot or dog biscuits all work well – the perfect canine lollipop!   
  4. If you’ve got space, put a paddling pool in a shady area of your garden for your dog to play in. You can throw in toys to add to the fun! 
  5. Soak kibble in lots of water then stuff a Kong or hollow bone and freeze it.
  6. Allow your dog to play under a sprinkler or hose pipe.
  7. Take your dog under the shade of a tree for a sniff about rather than a walk.
  8. Have some towels handy which can be soaked regularly in cool water to drape over your dog.
  9. Try to allow a breeze to circulate where your dog is resting by using a fan or open door as appropriate.
  10. Check the temperature of the floor isn’t too hot using your hand before heading outside.

What to do if your dog is showing signs of heat stroke 

Heat stroke is extremely dangerous in pets and can be fatal, so if your dog is showing signs of distress from heat, including collapse, excessive panting or dribbling then acting quickly is essential:  

  • Take your dog to a cool place, preferably with a draft to help cool them down.  
  • Wet their coat with cool water; it should not be freezing, you don’t want to cool them down too quickly.  
  • Immediately seek further advice from your vet.  

If you see a dog in distress that has been left in a car, call 999 immediately, the police will advise you what to do. The police will consider a dog in distress in a car as an emergency.

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