Looking After Your Dog In The Warm Weather

Family Health

If dogs are too hot and unable to reduce their body temperature, they will develop heatstroke. In warm weather, heatstroke can be caused by leaving your dog somewhere that is too hot, or by allowing it to exercise more than they should. 

All dogs are prone to heatstroke. Dogs with certain diseases are more prone to heatstroke, as are dogs on certain medication. Puppies and elderly dogs are also more at risk. 

Some signs to look for include: 

  • heavy panting
  • lots of saliva
  • a rapid pulse
  • very red gums or tongue
  • lethargy
  • lack of co-ordination
  • reluctance or inability to rise after collapsing 
  • vomiting
  • diarrhoea
  • loss of consciousness in extreme circumstances. 

Heatstroke first aid 

If your dog shows any symptoms of heatstroke, move him or her to a shaded, cool area and call your vet for advice immediately.

Heatstroke can be fatal and should always be treated as an emergency. Dogs suffering from heatstroke urgently need to have their body temperature gradually lowered: 

  • Immediately douse your dog with cool water (not cold), to avoid shock. You could put your dog in a shower and run cool water over them, or use a spray filled with cool water and place your dog in the breeze of the fan.
  • Let your dog drink small amounts of cool water.
  • Continue to douse your dog with cool water until their breathing starts to settle but never cool your dog so much that it begins to shiver. 

Top tips to keep cool 

  • Make sure that wherever your dog is, they are always able to move into a cooler, ventilated environment if they’re feeling hot.
  • Never leave your dog alone in a glass conservatory or a caravan. Even if it’s cloudy when you leave, the sun may come out later in the day and make it unbearably hot.
  • If your dog is outside, you must provide a cool, shadey spot where they can escape the sun at all times of the day.
  • Make sure your dog always has a good supply of drinking water, in a weighted bowl that can’t be knocked over. Carry water with you on hot days and give your dog small amounts regularly.
  • Groom your dog regularly to get rid of excess hair. Give long coated breeds a haircut at the start of the summer, and later in the season if necessary.
  • Dogs need exercise, even when it’s hot. Walk your dog early in the morning or later in the evening. Never allow your dog to exercise a lot in hot weather.
  • Dogs can get sunburnt too, particularly those with light coloured fur on their ears. Ask your vet for advice on safe sunscreen.

Don’t leave your dog alone in a car 

If it’s warm outside and you are going out in the car, think carefully about what you are going to do with your dog.  It can get unbearably hot in the car on a sunny day, even when it might not seem that warm.

When it is 22°C (72°F) outside, the temperature inside the car can soar to 47°C (117°F) within 1 hour. Dogs pant to keep themselves cool, which also raises the temperature in the car.

In a hot, stuffy car leaving a window open or a sunshield on your windscreen won’t keep your car cool enough. 

If you want to take your dog with you on a car journey, check that your destination is dog friendly. You won’t be able to leave your dog in the car and you don’t want your day out to be ruined!

Content sourced from DAERA (daera-ni.gov.uk).

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