Keep your dog happy and healthy in warm weather with our five tips for safe fun in the sun.
1. Provide shade and water
Make sure your dog has access to shade and plenty of fresh water throughout the day.
2. Plan your walkies
Walk your dog in the early morning or late in the evening when temperatures are cooler. This will reduce their risk of heatstroke. Be particularly careful if your dog is old, overweight or suffers from breathing difficulties.
3. Do the seven second tarmac test
Tarmac can get very hot in the sun and could burn your dog’s paws. Check the pavement with your hand before letting your dog walk on it — hold your hand down for seven seconds, if it's too hot for you, then it's too hot for your dog's paws.
4. Don't let them get burnt
Keep your dog out of direct sunlight where you can. Use pet-safe sun cream on exposed parts of your dog’s skin, like the tips of their ears and nose. Ask your vet for more advice if needed.
5. Check ahead for adventures
If you're planning a day out, check whether dogs are welcome at the visitor attractions you plan to visit. Some public parks and beaches may have Public Space Protection Orders or Dog Control Orders in place during summer or at certain times of year, so check before travelling. If dogs are not permitted, find a dog-friendly alternative or make sure you arrange a pet sitter or kennels for the day. Read our advice on how to find a good dog walker.
What to do if your dog overheats
If dogs are too hot and can’t reduce their body temperature by panting, they may develop heatstroke which can be fatal.
Some dogs are more prone to heatstroke than others, such as very old or young dogs, dogs with thick heavy coats or those with short, flat faces (such as Pugs and Boxers). Dogs with certain diseases or on some types of medication are also more prone to heatstroke. Ask your vet for advice if you’re concerned about caring for your dog in warm weather.
Symptoms of heatstroke in dogs
- Panting heavily
- Drooling excessively
- Appears lethargic, drowsy or uncoordinated
If your dog is showing any of these signs, follow emergency dog first aid and contact your nearest vet.
Emergency first aid for dogs with heatstroke
For the best chance of survival, dogs suffering from heatstroke urgently need to have their body temperature lowered, but this needs to be done gradually or they can go into shock.
If your dog has collapsed, call a vet immediately as they may advise attending as a matter of emergency rather than starting treatment yourself.
In milder cases, you can follow these steps to start lowering your dog's temperature:
- Move the dog to a shaded and cool area.
- Immediately start pouring small amounts of room temperature (not cold) water onto the dog's body (cold water may cause shock). If possible, you can also use wet towels or place the dog in the breeze of a fan. If using wet towels, be sure to re-apply water regularly and not to keep the dog constantly covered – sometimes this can heat them up instead of cooling them down.
- Allow the dog to drink small amounts of room temperature water.
- Continue to pour small amounts of room temperature water onto the dog until their breathing starts to settle but not so much that they start to shiver.
- Once the dog is starting to get cooler and their breathing is settling down, call the nearest veterinary surgery so they can be checked over.
Dogs die in hot cars
Think twice about any car trips with your dog. If you do have to travel with your dog, plan your journey. Consider travelling at cooler times of the day, identify places to take breaks, and avoid congested roads or busy times of day when you could get caught in traffic.
Never leave your dog in a vehicle. In just 20 minutes, a dog could die in a hot car. Winding a window down is not enough to help your dog stay cool.
If you see a dog in distress in a hot car, call 999 immediately.
In Northern Ireland, you can call your regional Animal Welfare Officer or the PSNI on 999. Visit the ni.direct website for your regional Animal Welfare Officer contact numbers.
Learn more about our Dogs Die in Hot Cars campaign >
Plan a holiday for the whole family
Plan the pawfect getaway with dog-friendly breaks from Dogs Trust Holidays. Choose from cottages, lodges and boats that accept pets in the UK and Europe and support us at the same time; with every holiday booked, we receive a 10% donation. Book your next holiday now.