UK weather and dogs
When the sun comes out in the UK we tend to get over-excited and common sense goes out the window.
Dogs are one of the most adaptable species on the planet and have evolved to live in most countries of the world. We therefore do not need to over-react and keep them inside once the sun comes out but we should use some common sense.
Have you ever walked barefoot on hot sand? You will run, hopping and yelping until you get to the sea or some shade. A good test is to hold the back of your hand on the ground for five seconds. If it is too hot for you then it is too hot for your dog.
Dogs are barefoot all the time so if the sun is very hot then so is the pavement. The simple solution here is to seek out shade. In town, this may mean crossing the street to get the shade of buildings. Where possible walk your dog on grass verges rather than the pavement since it will be much cooler.
When we get hot we sweat to cool down. Dogs don’t! Although they sweat a small amount through their paws the main way they cool down is by panting. We sensibly take a bottle of water out with us when it is hot so do the same for your dog if you will be out for a while. Fold-flat water bowls are really handy.
Have a rest
Chill out under the shade of a tree for a while. This gives you both a chance to cool down.
Don’t run a marathon
Dogs are generally much more active in the park than we are so leave the ball at home when really hot since the motivation to play may override the motivation to rest. If you do want to give your dog a good run then go out earlier or later in the day when it’s cooler.
Have water and shade available in your garden. A doggy paddling pool can also be great fun!
When we are hot we can take a layer of clothes off. Give your dog a good brush to get out the undercoat and remove matts. Some breeds i.e. terriers can be stripped to reduce hair and some breeds can be trimmed.
Young, fit, and healthy?
A dog who is young, fit, and healthy will do fine in the sun with sensible precautions. You may however need to be extra careful with puppies, older dogs, unfit dogs, or dogs with health conditions. Seek your vet’s advice as appropriate.
Brachycephalic (short nose) dogs
Breeds like the very popular Pug and French Bulldog need extra care. These dogs have been breed to have very short faces meaning they have more difficulty breathing generally and cooling down when hot. Brachycephalic breeds can therefore quickly overheat.
If you are concerned that your dog may be suffering from heatstroke then get him into shade immediately. Cool him down gradually with water but not rapidly with cold water or ice. Contact your vet for advice.
It should go without saying now that dogs should never be left in cars on hot days. Even if it does not seem very hot, if the car is in shade, if left for short periods, or if the window is open! The temperature inside the car will quickly make it very unsafe for a dog with the possibility of heatstroke and death. If you see a dog in a hot car don’t delay but call 999 for help.
Check out RSPCA advice on what to do if you see a dog in a hot car.
Check out our blog post on how to manage your dog in cold weather.
Mike Garner is a dog trainer and behaviourist at Rainbow Dogs in Brighton & Hove, Sussex.
Follow Rainbow Dogs on Facebook.