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How to cool a dog down in hot weather.

Keeping Dogs Cool in Summer

Keeping dogs cool in summer is a very important topic for dog owners, especially with the recent heatwave we’ve all been experiencing. It is also important that you are aware of the signs that show your dog is too hot or in distress because of the heat. We’ve put together a guide on how to help your dog stay comfortable during the hottest months of the year.

How to keep your dog cool

It is always good to have a couple of wet towels around the house when the weather heats up. These are fantastic if you have one or more heavy duty waterproof dog beds as you can drape the wet towel on top of the bed and the dog can keep cool whilst still being comfortable. It is also an idea to get a fan and place it beside their favourite lounging spot.

Walking your dog in hot weather

One sure way to tell if it is overly hot to walk your dog is the palm test. If you press the palm of your hand on the road or pavement for five seconds and it is too hot, then don’t walk your dog. A dogs paw pads are very easily burned on hot days, which is why in summer time it is always advisable to walk your dog early in the morning or later in the evening when the sun is not beating down on them and it is a nicer temperature.

Additionally, when you do go out walking with your dog in the summer you should always have a bottle of water to hand as the dog will need to keep hydrated. There are a wide range of collapsible dog bowls and doggie water bottles on the market which makes stopping for a drink at any time very easy.

Heatstroke signs in dogs

Dogs can die in a space of minutes from heatstroke. Dogs can’t sweat through their skin as us humans do. Instead they rely on panting and releasing heat through their paw pads and nose to regulate their body temperature and keep cool. Imagine wearing a thick winter coat on a hot summer’s day and you’ll understand why dogs succumb to heatstroke so easily.

If your dog is getting overly hot you will start to see signs of heatstroke. Their breathing may become more rapid and they may produce an excessive amount of saliva. Additionally, their saliva may be a lot thicker, or they will become fatigued and may start staggering or shaking. You should always go straight to the vet if any of these symptoms start to show. Although your first thought may be to rapidly cool them by plunging them in cold water or by giving ice cubes, this is by far and away the worst thing that you can do. This will certainly cause more stress and will often make your dog go in to shock. The best thing you can do is cool the dog slowly. Get cool, wet towels and place them under their tummy, legs and groin area.

Dog breeds and hot weather

Of course every dog breed is different and where dogs like the Chihuahua, Dalmatian and Hungarian Vizsla all seem to worship the sun and follow it around the room or garden basking in it from morning until night, not all breeds are like this. Breeds such as Bulldogs, Pugs and Boston Terriers are much more heat sensitive and should be kept an eye on very closely. The reason for this is that they are what is known as brachycephalic breeds. That means that they have short nasal passages so when they breathe the have decreased air-intake, making regulating body temperature challenging.

Dogs in hot cars

First of all, it is important to say, that you shouldn’t leave a dog in a car alone at any time; even five minutes can be overly long to leave your dog in a hot car. If the outside temperature is at 22 degrees, this may not feel overly warm whilst out walking or nipping to the shops, but this is not the case. Even leaving a window cracked slightly open, within 45 minutes the temperature inside a car can easily rise to 50 degrees or over. This is a serious thing to remember when keeping dogs cool in summer.

The law on dogs in hot cars

Another bit of information that I have read a lot of different stories about is, “Can you legally break a window of a car that is not your own to free a distressed dog?” I have done quite a bit of research on this and have found that the best place to find absolute truth on this is by asking your local police force. The police have advised us that the first thing to do if you find a dog in a car in the summer that seems in distress is to call 101 to report, if the dog seems to be highly distressed, unresponsive or not moving for instance, call 999.

It is always unadvisable to force entry into a vehicle that is not your own. If the police are unable to get to the situation in a decent time, then you have to decide yourself whether or not you should take action. You should explain to the police on your call what you intend to do and the timeframe you think you have and it is always advisable that you should take images or footage of the dog in the car and take names, addresses and telephone numbers of any witnesses with you or around you. The law states that you have lawful excuse to commit damage if:

‘at the time of the act or acts alleged to constitute the offence you believed that the person or persons whom you believe to be entitled to consent to the destruction of or damage to the property in question . . . .would so consent to it if s/he . . . had known of the destruction or damage and its circumstances’ (section 5(2)(a) Criminal Damage Act 1971).

(This legal reference is slightly modified for clarity)

Please do also be advised though, if you decide to break in to a car without proper justification, you can be taken to court by the vehicle/dog owner.

I hope that you find this guide informative and that you have fun keeping dogs cool in summer. Remember to keep them chilled out by draping your heavy duty waterproof dog beds with wet towels, as this will help regulate their temperature, and keep them out of the sun in the hottest hours of the day as well.