During the hot summer weather many of us want to be outside; relaxing, playing with the children, sunbathing – generally enjoying time with friends and family, including our canine pals.
Enjoy the fun, but please remember that dogs (and cats) can suffer from the same problems that humans do from over exposure to the sun, including overheating, dehydration and even sunburn.
Here are some tips to follow to prevent your dog suffering in the heat:
- Never leave your dog alone in a vehicle. You could run the risk of your beloved pet being stolen, or getting hyperthermia - usually known as heat stroke, which can be fatal. Many people still leave their dog in the car thinking that parking in the shade with the windows open slightly is enough to keep them cool, but this is still dangerous because the sun moves during the course of the day and temperature can increase very quickly. The power of the sun can even penetrate light cloud cover and quickly convert a car into an oven. Also do not leave your dog in conservatories, greenhouses or other small buildings with a large number of glass windows and no ventilation.
- When travelling with your dog always remember to have shade of some kind and have water available. You never know when your journey time may be increased, such as through traffic jams, so bear this in mind. Avoid taking your dog on long car journeys in warm weather unless the vehicle has air conditioning.
- If you take your dog to a beach or a day out please check in advance that your dog is permitted to be with you. Do not be caught out by arriving at your destination to find out your dog is not allowed access and you have to choose between leaving the site and leaving your dog in the car! Do not stay in the hot day sun for long.
- Be extra careful with any dogs more prone to over – heating. This includes dogs that are overweight, older or have lung or heart disease as their respiratory system is already suppressed. Those of a brachycephalic (squashed nose) head shape such as bulldogs, pugs and shih tzus also need to be kept cool for the same reason.
- Playing and walks with your dog are best in the early morning or in the evening when the weather is cooler. Remember not to exercise straight after a meal. And do not over exercise dogs with longer coats or those who are prone to heatstroke such as those mentioned above. Make sure shady spots and drinking water is available.
- Keep your dog away from any plants or areas that may have been sprayed with chemicals such as insecticides. Only apply dog specific products if you are applying for example sun protection or insect repellent. If you are concerned your dog may have ingested a harmful substance please speak with your vet straight away.
- Keep longer haired dogs cooler by grooming them to get rid of excess hair, and clip long haired coats for this season. Do not shave the hair as this leaves the skin prone to sunburn.
- If you are having a barbecue keep items such as matches, lighter fluid, candles and left over bones out of harm’s way.
- Be careful of letting your dog stand on tarmac. This heats up very quickly in high temperatures and if your dog stays still on it his paws can be burnt.
- If you do keep your dog outside provide plenty of fresh water and shade. Make sure any housing for your dog is of the appropriate materials to prevent temperature build up and make sure it is ventilated. Bring your dog inside to a cooler spot, at least during the hottest part of the day.
- Please stay alert for any signs of potentially fatal heatstroke. You can find out more about the signs and applicable first aid by reading our heatstroke section. If you do see a dog in distress please contact the RSPCA 24 hour national cruelty and advice line on 0300 1234 999.
- If you see a dog in a parked car when the weather is hot, note the car’s details including colour, registration number and model. Note where it is parked then call 999, or either the RSPCA on 0300 1234 999 or the Scottish SPCA on 03000 999 999. If the car is in a shop’s car park, ask the shop to put out a notice asking the owner to return to their car. If the owner does not quickly come forward, call the police or the RSPCA/Scottish SPCA immediately. Do not leave until the dog is safe.