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Keeping Your Dog Safe from Heatstroke: Tips for the Summer

Keeping Your Dog Safe from Heatstroke: Tips for the Summer

Loz Dorey |

As summer temperatures soar in the UK, it’s crucial to protect your furry friends from the dangers of heatstroke. Here are some key tips to help manage your dog's wellbeing during these hot months ahead.

CAUSES OF HEATSTROKE IN DOGS

Heatstroke occurs when a dog becomes too hot and is unable to reduce its body temperature through panting. Common causes include:

Many people mistakenly believe their dog will be fine left alone in a car for a few minutes, but temperatures inside a car rise rapidly. If you spot a dog alone in a car showing signs of heatstroke, call 999 for assistance.

DOGS MOST AT RISK OF HEATSTROKE

Certain dogs are more susceptible to heatstroke, including:

  • Large breeds
  • Dogs with thick, heavy coats
  • Overweight or unfit dogs
  • Working dogs with high activity levels
  • Dogs with darker coats
  • Older dogs or those with chronic conditions
  • Brachycephalic breeds (dogs with short noses)

Breeds at increased risk include, Bulldogs, French Bulldogs, Greyhounds, Boxers, English Springer Spaniels, Chow Chows, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Pugs, Dogue de Bordeauxs, Golden Retrievers, and Staffordshire Bull Terriers.

Energetic dogs are also at higher risk due to their increased activity levels, which generate more body heat. Older dogs, while less active, may struggle with temperature regulation due to age-related health issues.

THE KEY TO HEATSTROKE PREVENTION

Avoiding the heat is the best approach. Here are some basics to keep in mind:

  • Exercise Smart: Walk your dog in the early morning or late evening when it’s cooler. Reduce their activity levels and avoid vigorous games like fetch.
  • Skip a Walk: If it’s too hot, keep your dog entertained indoors with toys and puzzle feeders. They are much safer at home than out in the heat.
  • Shade and Shelter: If your dog is outside, ensure they have access to shade. During the hottest part of the day, keep them indoors in a ventilated room with curtains or blinds closed. A stone or tiled floor can provide additional cooling.

  • Cooling Devices: Use a mobile air conditioning unit or a fan to help move and keep the air cool. Cooling mats or a wet towel for your dog to lie on can also help.
  • Hydration: Ensure they have constant access to fresh water. You can even adding a few ice cubes to the water bowl.
  • Regular Grooming: Regular grooming helps to remove the dead fluffy undercoat, reducing the insulation of the coat to help long haired and thick coated breeds to stay cooler. Coat rakes, slicker brushes and combs are ideal tools for grooming longhaired breeds, with bristled brushes, mitts and fine toothed combs being the perfect choice for shorter haired dogs.

CLIPPING DOGS AT RISK OF HEATSTROKE

For dogs at higher risk of heatstroke, consider clipping to help them stay cool. A shorter coat greatly reduces the risk of overheating. You can find our clipper sets and grooming essentials tailored to your breed of dog here.

There are a few people that are opposed to certain breeds being clipped because of the risk of the quality of the hair regrowth but always consider the benefits for your dog’s comfort and welfare before aesthetics. If you’re unsure whether a summer clip may be best for your dog, consult your vet or qualified groomer for advice.

Border Terrier with a summer clip by @Lauren Emily Dog Grooming using the Masterclip cordless MD Roamer dog clipper

Clipping doesn’t have to mean a very short, all-over trim. Even breeds not traditionally clipped can benefit from shorter hair on their tummies and legs for better cooling when lying on a cold surface. For a full body clip, ensure they have enough hair coverage to prevent sunburn. Don’t forget specialist doggy sunscreen for exposed skin and noses.

HOW TO KEEP YOUR DOG COOL

  • Spray Water: Use a garden spray, plant sprayer, or hose to gently wet your dog.
  • Paddling Pool: Provide a shallow pool for your dog to splash in.
  • House Cooling: Open windows at night to let cooler air in and close them in the morning. Keep curtains or blinds shut to insulate against the heat.

RECOGNISING THE SIGNS OF HEATSTROKE IN DOGS

Being alert to the signs of heatstroke will help you act quickly and prevent further risk:

  • Faster, heavier panting and difficulty breathing.
  • Barking, whining, or signs of agitation.
  • Excessive thirst and drooling.
  • Dark-coloured gums or tongue.
  • Vomiting or diarrhoea.
  • Lethargy, drowsiness, and uncoordinated movements.
  • Seizures or collapse leading to unconsciousness.

WHAT TO DO IF YOU SUSPECT YOUR DOG HAS HEATSTROKE

Heatstroke is a medical emergency. If your dog shows symptoms, taking urgent action can make all the difference for a good outcome.

  1. Move the dog to a cool, shaded area.
  2. Cool them down: Hose or pour cool water over your dog or place them in a paddling pool. Avoid pouring water directly over their head to prevent inhalation, especially in flat-nosed breeds.
  3. Do not place wet towels over the dog as this may trap heat.
  4. Let your dog drink small amounts of water.
  5. Continue to cool them until their breathing becomes more settled.
  6. Seek veterinary support: Call your vet immediately while continuing to cool your dog.
  7. Unconscious dogs need urgent veterinary attention.

By following these tips and staying vigilant, you can help ensure your dog stays safe and comfortable even in the hottest weather. Consider taking a dog first aid course to prepare for any eventualities.

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