Caring for our dogs in the heat of the British summer

Mar 1, 2024 1:10:09 PM

With our ever-changing, eclectic British weather we have to be on the ball when it comes to looking after our dogs. What is an ideal environment in the morning can have changed completely by the afternoon so we have to be mindful of making sure our pets are going to be comfortable – whatever the weather.

It’s great for our dogs to enjoy the long, sunny days with us – so throw the doors open, provide plenty of shade, top up their water bowls regularly and encourage them to come indoors regularly so they’re not in the sun all day. You could also provide a cooling gel mat if you can persuade your dog to use it (damp towels work just as well) or a small paddling pool to splash in.

Dogs regulate their body temperature mainly through panting which becomes less effective as the temperature rises. This is compounded in dogs who are elderly, unwell or those with shorter airways - such as our lovely pug, boxer and bulldog friends. So this means we can’t leave them to it and expect them to manage when the heat is on.

There are a few obvious considerations when it comes to dogs and hot weather – primarily involving cars, walks and hydration.

Hot weather, dogs and cars

The RSPCA’s advice is to never leave your dog in the car on a warm day. We’ve all heard the tragic stories of dogs left to die slowly in cars that have little air and rising temperatures. The RSPCA warns that a car parked in 22 degree heat will soar to a potentially fatal 47 degrees within one hour. If you see a dog that you believe to be in distress or showing signs of heatstroke, call 999 immediately – they will alert the RSPCA and get help.

6 signs of heatstroke in a dog

  • Panting heavily
  • Excessive drooling
  • Lethargy, unsteadiness and drowsiness
  • Reddened gums
  • Vomiting
  • Collapse

How to help a dog with heatstroke:

  • Move the dog to a shaded area
  • Cool him down gently by pouring small amounts of room temperature water onto his body
  • Encourage small drinks of room temperature water. Note that cold water may cause shock
  • Cover him for just a few minutes at a time with cool, wet towels - extended use could cause him to heat up again
  • Once stabilised, take your dog to a vet to be checked

Day tripping with your dog

Traveling by car is fine as long as you have a good flow of air either through open windows or air conditioning but you still need to limit the time spent cooped up. On long journeys, stop regularly, allow your dog to stretch his legs, relieve himself and have a good drink to prevent dehydration.

Out and about in the heat

It’s important to avoid the heat so early morning or evening walks are best: “avoid 8am – 8pm, prime time for heatstroke” says Adrienne Hardwick of The pads of your dogs’ paws are quite sensitive so a hot pavement can actually burn them. The general rule is that if the heat of the ground feels uncomfortable on the back of your hand or bare feet, it’s too hot for your dog. This applies to grass, pebbled and sandy areas as well.

Also, did you know that any exposed parts of your dog (bald or thin patches or fur, nose and ear tips for example) should have sunscreen on so they don’t catch the sun?  A children’s mild sunscreen is recommended.

A useful reminder courtesy of Petplan


Vital hydration

It goes without saying that having a plentiful supply of water is important regardless of the time of year. Make sure your dog has easy access to a fresh, large bowl and encourage him to drink often. We find that dogs benefit from water bowls in a variety of places as they often prefer to stay by your side if you’re gardening or away from the house – they don’t always remember to go in search of them!

See our advice on frozen snacks below – this is another way to get more liquid inside your pet.

If all fails, turn on the lawn sprinkler or garden hose – your dog will love trying to catch the water in his mouth!

Frozen scooby snacks

Most dogs love frozen treats - they give them something to do whilst keeping their body temperature at a comfortable level. Try freezing a layer of chicken stock, then adding a layer of peanut butter and freezing it on top. There are lots of alternative ingredients including mashed banana, chicken, bacon and shredded carrot – these are maybe not our first choice of flavours but your dog will be very happy!

If you make it in a silicone mould you can turn it out onto the floor and leave them to enjoy this doggy delicacy. Another option is to make the frozen treat in a paper cup, insert a dog chew ‘handle’, freeze and then remove the paper cup before serving it ice-lolly style.

Obviously any food you prepare for your dog needs to be taken into consideration alongside their usual calorie intake and with any specific digestive needs in mind. The Trophy Pet food range is complete so there is no need to add extras but appropriate treats like this are perfectly fine in moderation. Be guided by the size and activity levels of your dog when deciding on the size of the treat.

Flea warning

Whilst they are around all year, fleas and other parasites flourish in the warm weather so brush your dog regularly, apply treatment as prescribed and wash bedding to prevent infestations.

Warm nights

Of course, we also need to think about conditions at night or whilst we are out of the house – those times when we’re not by our dog’s side. It’s ideal to have a room with a constant temperature with somewhere cool for your dog to retreat to. Putting their bed in that spot will show them it’s a good place to rest.

On a final note, the summer is a wonderful time for us and our dogs - there’s so much more potential for walks (and less mud!) and many opportunities to explore the outdoors. If you do go off exploring and walking in warm weather, have fun and take a drink for both of you.



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