Dogs Trust has teamed up with other charities to support the Dogs Die in Hot Cars campaign, reminding owners that whilst we all love to get outside and enjoy the sunshine, it’s very important to remember that the hot weather might not be as much fun for our furry friends.

Dogs heat up quickly and cool down very differently to humans. They are covered in fur and do not sweat in the same way as we do. Unlike humans, dogs pant to help keep themselves cool, and the effectiveness of panting is reduced at high temperatures and humidities.

Heatstroke can result in serious complications for dogs. The upper lethal body temperature of dogs is approximately 42°C (108°F), but brain damage may develop at body temperatures of 41°C (106°F). This why, when the sun comes out, it’s important to take the correct precautions to keep your dog safe.

But what are those precautions?

Contrary to popular belief, the majority of dogs that fall ill in the heat have owners who love them very much and would do anything to keep them safe. The problem lies in the fact that many people don’t know the best ways to keep their four-legged friends cool and protected when the sun is sizzling.

Here are a number of precautions that that dog lovers can take to keep their dogs safe and well on a hot day.

Dogs Trust’s Top Tips:

  • Don’t excessively walk your dog when the temperatures are soaring.
  • Avoid walking your dog at the hottest times of the day – often morning or later in the evenings can be cooler.
  • Always take plenty of water out with you for your dog.
  • Never leave your dog in a car. As temperatures rise, dogs overheat quickly and leaving them for as little as 20 minutes could prove fatal.
  • Ensure your pooch has shade to cool off in, either inside or when out and about.
  • Remember, dogs can get sunburnt too – especially white dogs or those with little hair so try and keep them out of direct sun. Ask your vet about pet sunscreens and don’t assume that human sunscreen is suitable for your dog.
  • Think twice about any car trips with your dog. Avoid congested roads or busy times of day when they could possibly overheat in the car if you are stuck in traffic.
  • If driving with your dog, plan your journey around cooler times of the day and take regular breaks.
  • Take your dog to the groomers and keep their fur clipped.
  • For pooches that love water, give them their very own child-sized paddling pool to keep them cool.
  • If you’re near a larger body of water, don’t forget that just because dogs instinctively know how to swim doesn’t mean that they like water or are good swimmers! All dogs should be supervised when swimming to ensure they don’t need any help.

It’s also important to watch your dog closely for signs of heatstroke: the most obvious are excessive panting and profuse salivation, but others include overly red or purple gums; a rapid pulse; lack of co-ordination; reluctance or inability to rise after collapsing, seizures, vomiting or diarrhoea and in extreme circumstances coma or death.

If you are worried your dog may be suffering from heat stroke, move them to a cooler spot straight away before ringing your vet for advice immediately.

If you keep these precautions in mind, you and your dog can enjoy a happy and healthy summer together!