Keeping your dog safe in the heat

Vet Joann Bennett shares her top tips on keeping your dog cool and comfortable.


Dogs get super excited when it’s sunny outside but the hot weather can be dangerous for them – what with all that fur! My Family Pet and Bridge Vet Centre vet Joann Bennett shares her top tips on keeping your dog cool and comfortable.

First off, you should never leave your dog alone in a parked car, not during any time of the year but especially during hot weather. The temperature within a parked car can rise quicker  than we think and cracking the window open changes nothing! There may be a slight breeze but this won’t counteract the intense heat from the sun.

Keep your dog hydrated

Think how refreshing an ice-lolly or cold drink is during hot days. You can do this for your dog too with an ice cube or a frozen Kong toy, it will be much appreciated by your furry friend. These treats serve a hidden secondary purpose too: they’re fantastic entertainment for both you and your dog.

As handy and refreshing as frozen treats are, they’re not a substitute for clean, fresh water so make sure you provide this for your dog along with their ice cubes. Think of how often you get thirsty when it’s hot and multiply it by 10, that’s how our furry companions feel!

Adapt your walks to the weather

BorrowMyDoggy Chihuahua in the shade
Doggy member Tequilla

When it’s stiflingly hot outside, aim to walk your dog early in the morning and later on in the evening as these are the coolest times of the day. If you find yourself playing fetch or tug of war at midday when the sun is hottest, do so indoors where it’s cool!

Shade is your friend

During your early morning/late evening walks, don’t underestimate shade breaks. Your dog will probably seek them out but be sure to help them. If you’re choosing between a vast open area and an area with lots of trees or shelter and it’s roasting outside, always choose the latter.

BorrowMyDoggy Alaskan Malamute in shade
Doggy member Mishka

If you’re out in the garden, remember to check up on your pooch every so often. Does your garden have a shaded area that your dog can rest in? If not, or during the hottest parts of the day, keep your back door open so your dog can head indoors for some cooling-off time. If they’re so excitable that they ignore the heat, encourage them to head inside once in a while. You can use frozen treats as an incentive.

Allergy season?

Dogs can have severe allergic reactions to pollen and insect bites, just like humans. There’s no real way of avoiding this but if your dog is prone to allergic reactions, a few little tricks can help you minimise their risk:

  • Walk during cooler parts of the day (that old chestnut!)
  • Steer clear of shrubbery and bushes
  • Have your dog groomed – the less fur they have, the less the pollen has to cling on to
  • Wash your dog thoroughly after walks

BorrowMyDoggy cross breed in flowers
Doggy member Albus

Remember dogs can get burnt too

Sadly, fur isn’t impenetrable! Dogs can get sunburnt too, especially if their fur is thin or light-coloured. During really warm days, think about applying some sun cream to your pooch.

And apart from that…

If your dog is brachycephalic (short-nosed breeds like Pugs or French bulldogs), take extra care to keep them safe and cool. Brachycephalic breeds can’t regulate their body temperature as well as longer nosed dogs so it’s especially important not to overexert them during the hot weather.

Signs of heatstroke include:

  • Excessive panting or laboured breathing
  • Excessive drooling
  • Difficulty walking
  • Vomiting

If you think your dog does have heatstroke, remove them from the heat as soon as you can and take them to a cool area. Offer them regular drinks or water and cool their fur with a damp towel – remember to re-wet the towel when it stops feeling cool. And always, always contact your vet if you have further worries or concerns.

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