How to keep dogs cool at home when it's hot
As temperatures soar, Dogs Trust is offering top tips to help owners make sure dogs can stay safe in the warmer weather and keep cool.
Keeping your dog cool while temperatures rise is key to keeping them safe and healthy. If dogs are too hot and cannot reduce their body temperature through panting, they may develop heatstroke, which can be fatal.
How to ensure your dog stays nice and cool in the heat
- Provide shade and water – ensure your dog has access to plenty of shade and fresh water throughout the day.
- Plan your walkies – walk your dog in the early morning or late evening when the temperatures are cooler. Take extra care if your dog is old, overweight or suffers with breathing difficulties. If in doubt, don’t go out.
- Swap walkies for something fun in the shade – provide your dog with cool alternatives to walkies to keep them out of the heat.
- Do the five second tarmac test – Tarmac can get very hot in the sun and could burn your dog’s paws. Check the pavement with your hand before letting your dog walk on it. Hold your hand on it for five seconds, if it is too hot for you, it is too hot for your dog’s paws.
- Prevent sunburn – keep your dog out of the direct sunlight. Use pet-safe sun cream on exposed parts of your dog’s skin, like the tips of their ears and nose. Ask your vet for more advice.
- Never leave your dog in the car – Dogs die in hot cars in an alarmingly short amount of time. Winding a window down is not enough to help your dog stay cool.
How to keep your dog entertained and stimulated on a hot day
During a hot day, there are plenty of alternatives to walkies to avoid a hot dog! Enrichment can keep your dog busy and entertained, whilst giving the option to spend some quality time with your canine companion. Enrichment is a great way to help dogs explore and learn, and can prevent boredom, build confidence, and teach a variety of skills such as problem solving, searching and agility. Enrichment also provides a suitable outlet for natural dog behaviours.
Enrichment isn’t just for the warm weather – as enrichment encourages dogs to sniff, chew and explore appropriately, it should be something they should participate in daily. This will help to keep them safe and can help prevent them from chewing on things they shouldn’t – such as your favourite furniture.
Here are some enrichment ideas for hot days:
- Paddling pools for your dog to choose to have paddle in the cool water
- Frozen snacks (carrots, filled dog-friendly food toys, lick mats). Find tasty summer snack recipes here
- Food trails around the house or shaded garden for your dog to follow with their nose!
- Create your dog their very own snuffle mat! Find out how here
- Dog safe plants and herbs around the home and garden, read more information here
- Sniffing out their favourite toy around the house!
When planning and choosing enrichment, it’s important to:
- Ensure any enrichment is safe and suitable (non-toxic, appropriately sized, with no foreign body hazards that could be swallowed or inhaled, which could result in injury or obstruction to the mouth, throat or gastrointestinal tract)
- Provide enrichment in the coolest part of your home
- Consider your dog's needs – including their health, abilities and dietary requirements
- Think about your pooches' preferences – what do they like and dislike
- Watch how they interact with the enrichment – and ask yourself are they engaged? Do they seem to be enjoying it? Do they seem confused or frustrated? What can we change next time? If it’s too difficult or we see signs of frustration, how can we make it easier?
Remember to supervise your dog, just in case they need your help. For more information and enrichment ideas, visit here
Signs of hot dogs and heatstroke
In order to stay safe when the sun is shining, it is vital to know the early signs of heatstroke in canine companions, which include panting heavily, difficulty breathing, appearing lethargic and drowsy, less keen to play, drooling, vomiting and collapsing. If you spot these signs, take immediate action.
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If you spot these signs -
- Move your dog into a shaded and cool area or in the breeze of a fan, or in an air-conditioned room and seek veterinary advice immediately.
- Allow your dog to drink small amounts of room temperature water if they can (but do not force them)
- If your dog is conscious, start pouring small amounts of cool (not cold) water onto your dog's body and re-apply water regularly until their breathing starts to settle, but not so much that they start to shiver.
- Lie them on a wet towel or cooling mat. Never place a wet towel on top of the dog as this quickly warms up and reduces cooling ability, as can happen with cooling jackets/coats.
If you are worried that your dog is suffering from heatstroke cool your dog and call your vet immediately. Heatstroke can be rapidly fatal and prompt vet attention is essential.
Dogs in hot cars
Hot cars are just as unpleasant to be in for our furry friends, so think twice about any car trips during hot weather. If you do have to travel with your dog, plan your journey - consider travelling at cooler times of the day, identify places to take breaks, and avoid congested roads or busy times of day when you could get caught in traffic. Ensure you are travelling with plenty of drinking water and a dog bowl to provide at regular breaks.
Never leave your dog in a vehicle. In an alarmingly short time, a dog could die in a hot car. Winding a window down is not enough to help your dog stay cool.
If you see a dog in distress in a hot car, call 999 immediately.
Dogs Trust is the UK’s largest dog welfare charity and normally cares for around 14,000 dogs across its network of 21 rehoming centres in the UK and one in Dublin. Dogs Trust has a non-destruction policy and will never put a healthy dog to sleep. The charity also focuses its efforts on understanding dogs and sharing that knowledge with the wider public to prevent problem behaviours that can result in relinquishment or abandonment. We are working towards the day when all dogs can enjoy a happy life, free from the threat of unnecessary destruction.