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Caring for Dogs in Hot Weather

Even when the sun is hidden behind the clouds, those glorious long summer days bring warmer weather for us to contend with. Making sure you are covered up in strong sunlight, well hydrated throughout the day and able to escape somewhere cool when it gets too warm is important…and the same goes for your pooch. Dogs are not able to cool down as effectively as humans as they do not sweat, so can suffer from heatstroke and dehydration very quickly. Here are some top tips to help you keep your dog cool this summer by Dogs Trust.

Tips For Caring For Your Dog In Hot Weather

  • Like us, it is not good for your dog to be in the heat for a long period of time, so avoid longer walks when it is very warm. Avoid walking your dog at the hottest time of day, instead heading out early morning or in the evening.
  • Wherever you go out with your dog, make sure you have access to water and shade. Ensure there is water and shade where you are heading, or take supplies with you including a bowl, water and umbrella (for shade).
  • If you are heading out in the car with your dog, make sure you are keeping them as cool as possible whilst you are driving. Use blinds to shade the sun out of the car, open windows to let in the breeze to circulate around the car and always have water to hand. If you are taking them for a long drive, plan in water breaks along your route and avoid driving during busy periods to avoid traffic and prolonged journeys. Remember, never leave your dog in the car!
  • The heat should be considered when at home too! If you are spending time out in the garden with your dog, Always make sure they have access to water and shade. For extra enjoyment for your dog, why not invest in a paddling pool?

border collie on summer evening

Frozen Treats for Dogs!

Have fun whilst keeping your dog cool and occupied! Dogs love ice cubes and they can be kept amused by licking and chasing ice cubes around the kitchen floor…just be sure to mop up after them to avoid you slipping! Or if you have a dog who loves their food, how about putting some canned dog food in a Kong and freezing it in the freezer…digging the frozen treasure out will keep your dog occupied for hours!

What To Do If Your Dog Is Overheating

Dogs will pant if they are warm or exercising, but spotting the signs of overheating early could save your dog’s life. Key signs to look out for are:

  • Excessive heavy panting
  • Hyperventilation
  • Dry gums that become pale
  • Increased salivation
  • Erratic or rapid pulse
  • Confusion and weakness
  • And in the worst cases diarrhea, vomiting, and possibly rectal bleeding

If you think your dog is overheating, get them into the shade or a cool room immediately and cover them with cool damp cloths, placing them over their paws, armpits and neck. Make sure the have access to water, and if you have a room fan, place this in their direction. If you are out and about, get them into the shade and use cool water to cool them by pouring directly onto the skin making sure they drink water too. If your dog’s condition does not improve, call your vet.


Research undertaken by Dogs Trust shows that despite our love for dogs, more than one in four dog owners in the UK leave their dog unattended in cars. Almost half of us believe it is ok to leave your dog in the car if certain measures are taken to ensure its safety like parking under a tree or leaving a window open. This is not true. In fact, an open window has no significant effect to the temperature inside the car.

In under 20 minutes, the body temperature of a dog can easily exceed 41°C, which can prove fatal. Within minutes of the car temperature rising, distress can be seen in a dog by excessive panting, whimpering and barking. This will develop into a loss of muscle control and ultimately the kidneys will cease to function, the brain will become irreversibly damaged and the heart will stop.

dog in car

Paula Boyden, Veterinary Director of Dogs Trust, comments:

We claim to be a nation of dog lovers, but it’s shocking how many people are willing to put man’s best friend in serious danger. The saddest thing is that these dogs are often much loved family pets but the owners simply do not appreciate how quickly a dog can die in a hot car where temperatures can reach the same as an oven. As soon as the car doors are shut the countdown begins – which could potentially end in an agonising death for the dog. Our message is simple: don’t leave your dog in a parked car.”

In addition to Dogs Trust’s research, a recent AA-Populus survey of 28,265 adults has revealed that more than 1 in 5 (21%) dog owners have left a dog unattended in a car for longer than 20 minutes. Last year, the motoring organisation attended more than 1,000 incidents of dogs locked in cars.

AA patrol of the year Mark Spowage comments:

“The dangers are obvious, you just have to touch the dashboard or seats to know how hot the inside of a car can get. But it’s not just on warm days when dogs are at risk – vehicles can be death-traps even in cooler temperatures.

“So, if you are carrying a dog in the car, plan in some stops, take plenty of drinking water for it and check traffic reports – you want to minimise the time sitting in traffic.”

Dogs Trust Video – Dogs Die In Hot Cars

What Should I Do If I See A Dog In Distress In A Car

If you see a dog that looks to be in distress in a parked car, call the Police Service (101) or the RSPCA.

Dogs Trust

Dogs Trust

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Dogs Trust is the UK's leading dogs charity, formed in 1891. There are 20 rehoming centres nationwide and the charity rehomed almost 15,000 dogs last year, and cared for over 17,000 dogs. Find out more about Dogs Trust and the work they do by clicking here.