This week has been so much nicer for getting outside, especially for those of us with dogs and puppies. The ground is starting to dry up – not as many showers, I don’t know if me or the dogs are happier about that one! Now we don’t have to worry about keeping our puppies warm and dry, well let’s face it we are pretty likely to still get some rain, so we don’t have to worry about our dogs and puppies being too cold out in the snow and wind, we can start enjoying some of these nicer days, especially with the evenings being lighter. But, instead of worrying about it being too cold, we need to start thinking about if it will be too hot for our dogs.
What breeds are more at risk of heat stroke?
Typically older and younger dogs are higher at risk of heatstroke as they won’t be able to regulate their body temperature as well as an adult dog.
That doesn’t mean adult dogs are fine during the hot weather, we need to be careful with all our dog’s weather 8 weeks, 18 years or anywhere in between.
Some dogs will get hotter quicker than others, typically black dogs, or dogs with a lot of black or dark fur as, just like everything else, black will attract the heat more. Also, dogs that have thick and/or long hair are at risk of overheating quicker due to the heat getting trapped in the fur easier. Also, dogs with “squished” faces such as boxers, pugs and bulldogs are more at risk due to normally having a shorter snout causing them to not be able to breathe and pant as well as other breeds and this can cause them to overheat quickly.
As well as this, dogs that are overweight will be more likely to suffer from heat stroke as they will generate more heat naturally even with gentle to moderate exercise, so with high temperatures too, this can become even worse.
How do we prevent heat stroke in dogs?
There are several ways to help prevent our dogs from getting heatstroke. There is the obvious of not walking when extremely hot. For a healthy adult dog, when it gets to 21˚C there will be small risks but at the same temperature for a puppy, older dog, overweight dog, or flat face breed than it has the potential to be unsafe for the dog.
At 23˚C it starts becoming unsafe for all dogs, but if shade and water are readily available then the risk is reduced slightly. When it starts getting to the high 20s at around 25-29˚C (depends on the dog, breed, and other factors such as weight etc.) then it is dangerous and we need to be careful with our dogs and keep them in the shade as much as possible and gentle exercise in short spurts during the cool parts of the day.
“Even if it is only in the low 20s the pavement can get really hot and is a hazard for burning dogs’ paws.”
Once we get over 29˚C then it can be life-threatening for all dogs and any strenuous exercise should be avoided and when outside be in the shade or just going to the toilet before coming back inside to keep cool making sure they have a cool mat, fans going to keep it cool (put some ice in front of the fan as it will help keep the air it is circulating cooler). Also, have a cool coat on your dog if it is hot and keep wetting it regularly so they don’t overheat.
So, when it gets to temperatures it is unsafe to walk during the day, get up a little earlier to give them a walk. Even the evenings over the last couple of years have been hot still and for a lot will be too hot until nearly midnight when there is a big enough drop in the temperature.
Even in the mornings when you take them out try to stick to shaded areas and places with grass as these will be cooler for your dog and, by walking on the grass rather than the pavement, it means your dog will be less likely to burn their paws.
Even if it is only in the low 20s the pavement can get really hot and is a hazard for burning dogs’ paws so it isn’t recommended to walk far on the pavement as the temperatures increase unless it is under shade or early on in the morning.
If you get up and it is too hot, then don’t worry about taking them out as there are loads of other activities you can do with them at home to help zap some of that energy out of them. Dogs don’t need a walk every single day of their lives, even with normal temperatures.
What to do when it's too hot to walk?
When not able to walk your dog or puppy due to the heat, there are loads of enrichment items and games you can make use of, you don’t necessarily need to buy anything fancy or expensive.
Some ideas include:
Homemade dog ice cream
This will be something fun to work on that is yummy to do and help keep them cool.
- Freeze same plain natural yoghurt in ice cube trays and when frozen let them have one.
- Freeze some gravy in ice cube trays.
- Freeze some wet dog food or raw dog food in ice cube trays..
Get them using their nose
This is one of the best ways to zap some energy without risking running around too much or being out whilst hot.
- Make or buy a Snufflemat where they have to sniff out food you hide in it.
- Hide their toy in the garden for them to search for.
- Put some food or treats in some boxes or the end of the toilet rolls to let them rip up to find the treats – save space in the recycling bin too!
- Hide some food in a pringles tube or plastic bottle and encourage them to roll it around to get the food out.
Train your dog at home
This will help tire out your dog’s brain and help solve a problem you have been having which you can put progress into solving during the time you normally walk them.
- Teach them a new trick.
- Work on something you are struggling with.
As well as doing these type of activities to keep your puppy or dog entertained whilst it is hot there are some good products you can get to help keep your dogs cool.
Products to help keep your dogs cool in the heat.
There are different products out there now to help keep our dogs cool during the hot weather which is good news as our summers have been even hotter over the last couple of years.
One thing you can pick up is a kid’s paddling pool/sandpit to fill with water so your dog can go for a paddle and keep cool. I go for the plastic sandpits normally as these are more robust than the pools you need to blow up as there isn’t the risk of your dog’s nails popping the pool as they get in and out or if they get excited and splash/dig in there. Paddling pools are good as it means that your dog’s paws will get wet and if deep enough or if they play whilst in there and splash around it will get them wet on their underneath.
There are main arteries in their armpits and in the groin so getting these wet can help keep them cool. Try to avoid putting water on the back and let them be in the sun for too long after as it can make them even hotter as the sun dries it out so try to keep it to the paws, legs and underneath and if they do get excited and play in it and get themselves totally wet like buzz often does, keep them in the shade as much as possible after.
There are cool mats you can get which have a special gel inside so when your dog lies on it, it is nice and cool for them, again keeping the underside of them cool to help them from overheating.
There are also cool coats you can get which are a special material which you soak in water and ring off the excess and put on your dog and will help keep your dog nice and cool as long as you don’t let the coat dry out which can make them overheat. I wouldn’t leave your dog unsupervised in these as you don’t want them drying out and making them overheat. You want to be checking the coat regularly to make sure they are wet enough or if you need to re-wet them. I use them when we are sitting outside and it is getting hot so they can still enjoy being outside but have the benefit of the coat keeping them cooler and they can get into the paddling pool if they want to for an extra cool-off, normally Buzz is lying in it given half a chance and has to be kicked out for the others to have a chance to get in to cool off.
Hi, I’m Katie, the owner of Furever Friends Pet Services.
I have been learning all about dogs for the last 13+ years and specialise in working with puppies from the day they come home to help them develop into well-behaved dogs and letting dogs of all ages have fun in a safe, appropriate way for their age, breed and health problems.
For more information: https://www.fureverfriendspetservices.com