Dog heatwave advice: 'There is no safe amount of time to leave them in hot cars'
11th September 2023

This hot weather can be a lot for humans to deal with, much less their four-legged friends.

And don’t forget, not only are dogs dealing with this heat under a fur coat, but they’re also just not built the same as we are.

So hot weather can be dangerous to them in ways it’s not for us.

Paula Boyden, Veterinary Director of Dogs Trust, said: ‘We have all been taken by surprise by this glorious late summer weather, but while the sunshine might be great for us, hot weather can cause problems for our canine friends.

‘Dogs can’t regulate their body heat in the same way as humans, so extra care needs to be taken, especially when exercising or travelling in the car.

‘In this weather, there is no safe amount of time to leave your dog alone in the car, even if you leave the window open.’

The charity also points out that leaving your pet alone in a vehicle (or tied up outside) can also increase the risk they could be stolen.

If there’s no way you can get around taking your dog with you in the car on a hot day, you need to avoid being in the car during the hottest times of the day – even if you’re not going very far.

She also points out other things we can do to make sure our dogs stay happy and avoid heatstroke when it’s hot out, such as only walking them in the coolest parts of the day, reducing their exercise, making sure they have access to somewhere cool and out of the sun to lay down, and making sure they always have access to fresh water.

‘And of course,’ Pauls stressed, ‘never leave your dog alone in a hot car, not even for a short amount of time.

‘If you do suspect your dog has heatstroke, start cooling them and call your vet immediately as it is vital they receive the care they need as soon as possible.’

How to keep your dog safe in hot weather

  • Avoid walking or doing activities either indoors or outdoors with your dog at the hottest times of the day.
  • Make sure your dog always has access to fresh water, and bring water out on walks with you.
  • Check the pavement with your hand before letting your dog walk on it, so they don’t burn their paws.    
  • Use a cooling mat or wrap an ice pack or frozen water bottle in a tea towel for your pet to lie on.
  • Use cold treats from the fridge for added moisture or make an ice lolly from pet-friendly ingredients.   
  • Use pet-safe sun cream. 

The early signs of heatstroke include panting, difficulty breathing, tiredness, being less keen to play, drooling and vomiting.

If your dog is struggling to breathe or has collapsed, you need to call your nearest vet immediately, so they can confirm whether your pet has heatstroke and tell you what to do next.

While you wait for word from your vet, here’s what Dogs Trust say you should do to cool your dog down:

  • Move the dog to a shaded and cool area.
  • Place them in the breeze of a fan, or in an air-conditioned room
  • Offer them drinking water.
  • Start cooling them down by soaking their body with tap water, avoiding their face.
  • Lie them on a cold wet towel or cooling mat, but don’t place a towel over them as this can raise their temperature.

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