Summer Heat—Keeping Your Pooch Cool and Safe

Summer Heat—Keeping Your Pooch Cool and Safe

With June around the corner and temperatures rising in the UK, it’s important that we keep an extra eye on (and extra frozen treats ready for) our four-legged friends. And we’re not just talking about when there’s a heatwave, like the one we experienced last July. Temperatures above 20°C can begin to become dangerous if you overwork your pup, if they’re in a poorly ventilated area, and/or depending on their characteristics (more on that below). If not careful, your dog can risk suffering from heat-related illnesses, like dehydration, heat exhaustion and heatstroke. When your dog overheats to the point of developing heatstroke, their organs can begin failing, and in some cases, it can turn fatal. Check out this graphic from Vets Now that shows just how dangerous seemingly comfortable temperatures can be for our pups.

Unlike humans, our pups wear a fur coat year-round that they can’t store away when summer starts. If it’s hot and your pooch is sporting their non-detachable garment in the open sun, this can become extremely uncomfortable and dangerous for them, especially because dogs cannot sweat—they can only release heat through their paws and nose, which is why they pant to try to cool down. Your dog’s body temperature (usually between 37-39°C) only needs to rise by two degrees Celsius for them to be at risk of developing heatstroke. And it’s not just thick-coated Newfoundlands that are at risk—other at-risk dogs include brachycephalic (‘flat-faced’) breeds (such as pugs and bulldogs), puppies, senior dogs, overweight or obese dogs, and dogs with underlying health conditions such as heart or respiratory disease. 

Early signs that your pooch is developing heat stroke include:

  • Drooling and/or foaming at the mouth
  • Excessive panting
  • Red gums
  • Racing or irregular heartbeat 
  • Faster breathing rate
  • Restlessness

Sever signs of heat stroke include:

  • Diarrhoea and/or vomiting
  • Confusion or loss of coordination
  • Lethargy
  • Seizure
  • Collapse

What To Do If They’re Overheated

If your dog begins showing any of the above signs, it is important to do the following:

  • Move them to a well-ventilated, cool area (in the shade, preferably indoors).
  • Place your pup in front of the breeze of a fan; if you don’t have a fan, wave a towel to circulate the air around them.
  • Spray or gently pour some cool water over their body, focusing on their feet and head (don’t use ice cold water, as this will shock your dog). You can also place wet towels on them and change them regularly.
  • Offer your dog cool (not iced!) water in small amounts, but don’t force them to drink.

Once you’ve done the above, call your veterinarian for instructions on what steps to take next. While you’re waiting, take your dog’s temperature every couple of minutes, preferably with a pet thermometer, to see if their temperature is decreasing to normal levels.

Prevention Is Key

Not only is it scary to witness your furry best friend go through the above, but it can also be life-threatening. It was estimated by the British Veterinary Association that 1 in 7 dogs affected by heatstroke die from it. This is why preventing heatstroke in the first place is extremely important. Follow these tips to keep your pooch cool:

  • NEVER leave your dog in a parked car (not if it’s ‘just for 5 minutes’, not if the windows are cracked open, NEVER!). Temperatures can reach a scorching 47°C in there.
  • Avoid exercising during the peak hot hours of the day. In the summer, be on the safe side and schedule your dog walks for before 8am or after 8pm. This way, your pup also avoids walking on the blazing hot pavement that can burn their paws!
  • Make sure your pooch always has access to shaded areas. Apply dog-safe sun cream on exposed parts of their skin, like their ears and nose, for when they do venture out to soak up some rays (not for too long though!).
  • Schedule a summer grooming appointment for your extra-furry friend.
  • Always have water with you to keep your pooch cool and hydrated.

Pup-approved Ways To Keep Cool

The above list is extremely important to follow for keeping your dog safe and cool during the summer months. We spoke with our pup-ployees who also suggested these fun ways to give your pooch the best dog days of summer ever! 

Frozen Treats

Chewing or licking something ice cold is a great way to cool down your pooch! Pupsicles (like from this recipe) are so easy to make and tasty, you’ll be giving them a try! Do not give your pup a human popsicle as they’re loaded with added sugars and sugar substitutes—the latter of which are toxic for our furry friends. Alternatively, you can freeze some peanut butter in a toy like a Kong—it will keep your pup cool and satisfied for a while.

Water Play

If your pooch isn’t afraid to get wet, invest in a doggie paddle pool to keep those paws cool (especially since an effective way to cool down your pooch is through their paws, where their sweat glands are located). You can also set up a sprinkler that will be just as fun for you to run through as it will be for your dog! 

If conditions are safe (meaning no ruff tides or bacteria swimming around), you can also take your pooch for a dip in a natural body of water. Just be sure to care for them as you would a young child—meaning you should put a life jacket on them and don’t let them stay in for too long. Afterwards, give your dog fresh drinking water (since they’ll be wanting to drink from where they were just swimming, and that’s a no-no).

Have A Doggie Day In

We know daily exercise is super important for our pup’s health, but if it’s just too hot out, opt instead for some mental exercise by hiding treats in a food puzzle, like a snuffle mat. Mental stimulation releases energy too!

The summer months can be paw-fect for enjoying time together with your pooch—as long as you’re taking precautions and being safe rather than sorry.


If there worse does happen and your dog suffers burned paws, then this comprehensive guide offers practical tips, preventive measures, and treatment options to help protect their dogs' paws from burns caused by hot surfaces such as pavement and sand. 


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