Keeping your dog safe in very hot weather

Dog in the heat

Vets have issued urgent advice on keeping pets safe as temperatures in the UK soar to potentially record levels.

Dogs may particularly struggle in high temperatures and humid conditions because, unlike humans, they are unable to cool down quickly through sweating, making them vulnerable to overheating, the British Veterinary Association (BVA) explained. Even a very short walk in the middle of the day or being locked in a car for a few minutes can prove to be fatal.

Dog in the garden

Flat-faced breeds such as English or French Bulldogs and Pugs are at even greater risk, as their short muzzles can make breathing difficult, and therefore they struggle to cool down through panting, which is a dog’s main way to cool its body temperature. Overweight animals and densely coated animals are also at increased risk.

Vets’ top tips for the hot weather include:

  • Make sure all pets always have access to fresh water to drink, adequate ventilation and shade from direct sunlight at all times.
  • Don’t exercise dogs in the hottest parts of the day — especially older dogs, overweight dogs, flat-faced breeds or dogs that you know have heart or lung problems. Stick to early morning or late evening walks.
  • Do the five-second tarmac test before taking a dog out for a walk; if it feels too hot for you, it’s too hot for your dog’s paws.
  • Never leave dogs in vehicles. If you see a dog in distress inside a hot car, call 999.
  • Watch out for early signs of heatstroke, such as heavy panting, drooling, restlessness, bright red or very pale gums, and lack of coordination.
  • If heatstroke or any other heat-related condition is suspected, take your pet to a cool, well-ventilated place, give it small amounts of cool (not ice-cold) water to drink, and pour room-temperature water over it to cool it down. Seek immediate advice from your vet.

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