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Dogs in cars

One of the most life-threatening mistakes people can make is to leave a dog in a vehicle during hot weather. Dogs can’t perspire (sweat), as humans do, to cool themselves off through evaporation, so they have to pant to cool themselves. If the air that they are breathing in is also too hot (as it is in a parked car in hot weather), then panting has little cooling effect and the dog quickly overheats.

Many people think their dog will be OK if they leave the windows open, but even with the windows wide open, the car can quickly become too hot for the dog. When it’s 22 degrees outside, in a car it can reach an unbearable 47 degrees within an hour which is hot enough  to cause heatstroke, brain damage, and even death. Your pet may pay dearly for even a few minutes spent in a sweltering car, please leave your pets at home during hot weather.

Heat stroke in dogs

Signs of heat stroke include heavy panting that does not resolve as the pet rests, increasing distress, their tongue will change colour to a dark red/purple, weakness or collapse, hyper-salivation, vomiting and laboured breathing. If you suspect a dog is suffering from heat stroke, move him to a cooler environment immediately and apply cool water to the abdomen, ears and foot pads. 

Don’t pour ice water over the whole animal, just submerge him in a tub of cold water or cover him in a cold, wet blanket. Once he is stable, get him to a vet as quickly as possible, even if he seems to be cooling down and his temperature seems normal. Things may be happening on the inside that are not obvious from the outside.

If you spot a dog in a car that looks to be suffering from heat stroke this is what to do:

  • Establish the animal's health and condition. If they're displaying any signs of heatstroke dial 999 immediately.
  • If the situation becomes critical for the dog and the police are too far away or unable to attend, many people’s instinct will be to break into the car to free the dog. If you decide to do this, please be aware that without proper justification, this could be classed as criminal damage and, potentially, you may need to defend your actions in court.
  • Make sure you tell the police what you intend to do and why. Take pictures or videos of the dog and the names and numbers of witnesses to the incident. The law states that you have a lawful excuse to commit damage if you believe that the owner of the property that you damage would consent to the damage if they knew the circumstances (section 5(2)(a) Criminal Damage Act 1971).

 Document the whole process on a mobile phone if you are ever in the above situation.

Once the dog is removed from the car follow the steps above for helping a dog with heat stroke. If the dog is not responding at all and you think there is no breathing or heart out put you can commence CPR - see picture below for instruction on how to perform this on dogs:

Walking a dog in hot weather

If you walk your dog on lead, keep in mind that tarmac can get very hot during the summer. In fact, it can get hot enough to burn a dog’s pads, causing him pain for days. You might want to do only short walks early in the morning or later in the evening, when the temperatures are lower. Before taking your dog for a walk, check the ground with one of your own hands or bare feet. If you can’t keep your hand (or foot) on the ground for more than three seconds, it’s probably too hot to walk your dog on. Dogs who are older or overweight, have a thick coat or dogs which are brachycephalic (such as bulldogs, Boston terriers and pugs etc) are especially at risk of overheating. If you need to walk in the heat try to take water and a collapsable bowl with you or know where a natural clean water source is for the dog on the walk.

The same goes for anyone working dogs in agility, heel work, bite work etc dont do it in the midday sun work the dogs early in the morning or evening time for the cooler weather.

Provide water for a dog at all times

Providing water for your dog is always important, but it’s especially critical during hot weather. If your dog is inside during the day, make sure you supply fresh, cool water that remains in a shaded spot throughout the day, since sun coming through a window can heat a bowl of water. Most dogs won’t drink hot water no matter how thirsty they are.

If your dog stays outside during the day, make sure his water bowl isn’t in a place where he will tip it over. Water bowls can be tipped over by dogs trying to make a cool spot to lie down. If necessary, buy a tip-proof water bowl. Also, make sure he has a shady place where he can get relief from the sun. Paddling pools are a nice way to give dogs their own clean puddle in which to play.


Seasonal grooming considerations

Grooming all dogs, even dogs with short coats, helps to keep them comfortable as the seasons change. A natural coat that has been groomed offers protection from sunburn and acts as cooling insulation. Shaving your dog’s coat will take away that protection. If you give your dog a close cut for summer, they may need protection from the sun, so consult a vet about whether your pet needs a sunscreen on exposed areas. Dogs with bald patches or minimal coats may need sunscreen, as well as Nordic breeds of dogs, who are prone to auto-immune-related sun diseases.

There are products on the market to help cool the dogs - we sell a Ruff and Tumble drying coat which can also be soaked in cold water and used as a cooling rug or even blanket to lie on. 

The best rule is if its too hot for us to stay out in the sun and it feels uncomfortable - imagine how the dog feels when it cant sweat the same way as us and also cant take their coat off!!!



Comments on this post (2)

  • Jul 12, 2018

    Very good information about checking for pluse 👍

    — Andrew woodward

  • Jun 05, 2018

    Amazing artical thanks very much for the top tips

    — Ben

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