Dogs need exercise - this is something all dog owners know! Whether it's pouring with rain or scorching sun, our canine companions are always eager to get outside and get moving. However, hot weather can be very dangerous for our dogs so it is vital you take proper precautions and know what signs to look out for that your dog may be in danger.
Walking your dog early in the morning or later in the evening when the sun is less intense is a great idea. It is much cooler at these times of day, reducing the risk of heatstroke or burnt paws. You also should not run or cycle with your dog on warm days - gentle exercise is best. The same goes for dogs that like to chase toys when out for walkies - it is best to leave the tennis balls at home! Try and avoid pavements as they will always be hotter than grass. If the ground is too hot to touch with your hand for a five seconds, it is too hot for paws. Walking somewhere with plenty of shade for your dog to stop and rest is also a good idea, and of course, remember to take cool, fresh drinking water with you to keep your dog hydrated. The RSPCA also recommend using a pet-safe sun cream on your dogs nose and ear tips to keep them from getting sun burn.
Always be on the look out for signs of burned paw pads. These include:
- limping or refusing to walk
- licking or chewing at the feet
- pads darker in colour
- missing part of pad
- blisters or redness
If you suspect your dog has burned their paws, make sure to take them to the vets as soon as possible.
If dogs are too hot and are unable to reduce their body temperature by panting, they will develop heatstroke - which can be fatal. It is important to recognise the signs of heatstroke so that you can help your dog should they overheat. Some types of dogs are more prone to heatstroke, like very old or young dogs, dogs with thick, heavy coats or dogs with very short flat faces like pugs and bulldog types. The main warning signs of heatstroke are:
- Heavy panting
- Excessive drooling
- Dog appearing lethargic, drowsy or uncoordinated
- Collapsing or vomiting
If you spot these signs it is important to get your dogs temperature down quickly before taking them to the vet. Emergency first aid for heatstroke in dogs is to:
- Move the dog to a shaded and cool area
- Immediately pour cool (not cold to avoid shock) water over the dog. If possible, you can also use wet towels or place them in the breeze of a fan
- Allow the dog to drink small amounts of cool water
- Continue to pour cool water over the dog until their breathing starts to settle, but not too much that they start shivering