Bone Idol | Guide: Summer, Heat & Your Dog's Health
Summer Days, High Temperatures & Hot Dogs!
We all relish the summer with longer days and warmer weather. But for your dog the summer heat can bring health risks and challenges.
The great news is there is plenty you can do to make a heatwave or particularly hot day more bearable. Bone Idol is here to help!
How do temperatures affect my dog?
To help we have built a handy graphic so you see at a glance how different temperatures might affect your dog. Feel free to save, screen-shot or share this page on your social media or message groups.
All dogs are different but as a general rule, the bigger the dog the more susceptible to heat they are. Other factors include age – puppies and older dogs being more at risk to rising temperatures, brachycephalic breeds (flat-faced like Frenchies and Pugs) and the length/density/colour of the coat. These can all drive up the risk to your dog during hotter days.
On hot days, walk your dog during the cooler parts of the day, in the early morning and late evening. Your dog’s paw pads can burn on hot pavements, tarmac and stone.
For a quick and simple check, if it’s too hot for your hand it’s too hot for their paws. If in doubt, avoid taking them out.
Can’t get outside? Burn off some energy at home with some enrichment. Enrichment techniques are great ways to get you dog to think and work when the temperature or weather prevents you from getting out and about.
To find out more about enrichment check out our special blog post with helpful tips and exercise ideas you can do at home.
Be particularly careful with short nosed dogs such as bull breeds, boxers, pugs, older dogs, and those that are overweight. These dogs can get heatstroke simply by running around. The flat-nosed shape of the skull can make temperature regulation much harder. If you are concerned for the wellbeing of your dog contact your vet immediately.
Like humans, dogs are susceptible to heatstroke and sunburn. Dogs can suffer fatal heatstroke in hot conditions. Unlike humans, dogs can’t sweat through their skin. Dogs rely on panting and releasing heat through their paw pads and nose to keep cool and regulate their body temperature. Fresh air, shade and water are key in keeping your dog healthy.
Signs of heatstroke in dogs can include collapse, excessive panting, and dribbling. If you have any concerns, contact your vet immediately.
If you are worried that your dog might be suffering from the heat or from heatstroke, move them to a cool place, preferably with a draught, wet their coat with cool but not freezing water, and then contact your vet immediately.
Once a dog shows symptoms of heatstroke the damage is often already happening. This is why it’s so important to prevent your dog from the heat.
What should I do if I see a dog in a hot car?
Call 999 and ask for help. Its as simple at that. Never leave any dog in a car, even for a moment. Temperatures in cars rise rapidly particularly if in the sun and even on still cooler days.
If you see a dog in distress inside a car, official advice is to dial 999 immediately and ask for the police. Any dog in distress in a hot car is an emergency and the police will advise you what to do based on the individual situation.
If you decide to break the glass on a car without proper justification, this could be classed as criminal damage and you may need to defend yourself in a court of law.
Exercising your dog in the summer:
Don't forget, by law in the UK, your dog must be wearing a collar and tag with your name and address on it. It’s also a good idea to put as many contact details on this tag as possible like your home and mobile phone number, so you can be contacted immediately if your dog wanders off. This collar and tag should also be in place if walking off lead or swimming.
As we have talked about before in the Bone Idol puppy guide, it’s been a legal requirement since April 2016 for all dogs to be microchipped. Most importantly, you must keep the details up to date so that you can always be reunited with your dog if they do get lost.
Taking your Dog Swimming:
We are lucky here in Brighton to have some great dog friendly beaches, check out our guide here. While swimming is excellent exercise for dogs and a great alternative to walking or running on hotter summer days, remember there are risks. Not all dogs like to swim, so if yours doesn’t then don’t force them. Be wary of tides at the beach and unseen currents.
If you are worried about your dog in the sea never go in to rescue them. Call 999 and ask for the coast guard, they will come out to help your dog!
Consider a dog life jacket, they can give wary dogs more confidence and give some breeds more stability in the water.
Drinking salt water is likely to make your dog sick and is not very good for them, so always bring fresh water with you to the beach.
Always wash any salt and sand off your dog’s coat after swimming to prevent it drying and irritating their skin.
If you are heading to a fresh water swimming hole, check that the lakes, rivers, ponds and canals are clean and clear of debris before letting your dog jump in. Some types of algae specific to freshwater can be toxic to dogs and even fatal. These include blue-green algae blooms. If your dog swims in algae-contaminated water, contact your vet immediately.
After swimming if you notice any of the following contact your vet and state they have been swimming, the location and the symptoms they are displaying
- Loss of coordination (this can include falling over or swaying)
- Pale gums
- Struggling to breathe
- Any loss of consciousness
Call your vet immediately.