How to Keep Your Dog Cool During a Heatwave

Connie PowellPaw Pet Travel Tips & Advice

How to Keep Your Dog Cool During a Heatwave When Travelling with Your Dog

Thinking about going out and about, and travelling with your dog? Hot weather can be uncomfortable and dangerous for dogs. Read our top tips for keeping your dog cool in hot weather.

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Are dogs okay in hot weather?

A dog can overheat very quickly, and you should always take steps to ensure that your dog is coping okay. Even at temperatures as low as 20 degrees Celsius, dogs are at risk of heatstroke, which can be fatal in as little as 15 minutes.

Our tips for keeping your dog cool

1. Adjust your walking routine when travelling with your dog

It may be tempting to head out for a nice long walk on a hot, sunny day, but this can carry risks for your dog.

Walk your dog early in the morning or in the evening when the ground is cooler.  This will not only protect their paws but be more comfortable for them.

Hot pavements, asphalt and artificial grass can burn their paws and cause severe pain, even on short walks. Even on a pleasant, breezy day, the temperature of asphalt and tarmac can rise to 52°C when the sun is at its hottest.

Top tip: If you’re not sure if the pavements are too hot, place the back of your hand on the ground for seven seconds. If you struggle to hold it down, it’s too hot to walk your dog.

2. Know how to spot heatstroke

Heatstroke is one of the most common illnesses in dogs during warm weather and happens when your dog is no longer able to regulate their body temperature.

Symptoms include excessive panting and drooling, very red gums, vomiting or diarrhoea and weakness. If left unchecked, heatstroke can be fatal.

It’s important to keep an eye on your dog during hot weather to ensure they don’t overheat. Never leave them alone in a car, even with the windows open, and make sure they have plenty of shady spots in the garden and in the house to retreat to when things get too hot.

Head to our heatstroke advice page to find out how to prevent it and what to do in an emergency.

If you suspect that your dog may be suffering with heatstroke, please take them to a vet immediately. 

3. Apply dog-friendly sun cream when travelling with your dog

Just like humans, dogs can suffer from sunburn if they’re not properly protected. Breeds with short or white hair with pink ears are more at risk, so you need to be extra careful to shield them from the sun’s rays.

Applying dog-specific sun cream to the sensitive areas of your dog (nose, lips, tips of the ears and belly) and keeping them out of the sun during the hottest part of the day is essential.

Speak to your local vet for advice on dog-friendly sun cream and your pet’s needs.

4. Circulate cool air

Keep your home cool and comfortable by setting up a few fans in various rooms or, if you have it, air conditioning.

This will help prevent your dog from becoming too hot and give them a refreshing place to retreat to when they get too warm. Keeping curtains or blinds drawn will also minimise the amount of heat that comes through windows. If you have tiled floor, be aware that these too can get very hot if they’re in direct sunlight.

Remember to keep oscillating fans and exposed cables out of paws reach to keep your dog safe.

5. Keep them hydrated

Dogs need to drink plenty of water during warm weather to prevent dehydration. Providing lots of fresh, clean water is essential, whether at home, in the garden or out on walks.

There are lots of ways you can encourage your dog to drink more, including playing with garden sprinklers, making pet ice lollies and flavouring their drinking water. You may also want to invest in a travel water bowl or portable bottle to ensure they have something to drink while out and about. If you get really stuck, they’ll happily drink out of your hands.

Visit our advice page to find out how to keep your dog hydrated.

6. Damp towels when travelling with your dog

Dogs cool themselves down from the bottom up, so it’s important that their paws and stomach don’t get too hot. Laying out damp towels or blankets for them to lie on is a simple, effective way to keep your dog cool in the heat.

Simply run the towel under a cold tap and wring out the excess water to create a portable cooling mat anywhere in your house or garden. Remember to refresh it regularly to maintain the effect.

You could also invest in a cool-mat, these are a great way for keeping your dog cool and are readily available online.

  • 40°C – the temperature at which your dog can no longer regulate their body temperature.
  • 43°C – the temperature inside your car after half an hour on a mild, 23°C day.
  • 10 minutes – the time it takes for the inside of your car to hit 43°C when it’s 32°C outside.
  • 54°C – the temperature your car will reach after 30 minutes in 35°C weather.
  • ‘Not long’ – the time it takes for your dog to suffer from potentially fatal heatstroke.

Don’t leave your dog in a hot car this summer.

7. Provide shady spots when travelling with your dog

If your dog loves to play out in the garden, it’s important to ensure they have lots of shaded areas where they can relax away from the sun.

Shade created by trees is better than a dog house as it allows air to circulate freely. Be aware of how the sun moves throughout the day to ensure your dog always has a shady spot to sit in.

You could even set up a shaded, makeshift den with their water bowl, a damp towel or cool mat to sit on and their favourite toys, to encourage them to keep out of the hot sun.

8. Less exercise

While it’s always important to ensure your dog gets plenty of exercise, you will need to reduce this slightly during warm weather. Too much physical exertion can cause your dog to quickly overheat and become dehydrated.

Instead of running, walk with your dog and avoid exercise during the hottest parts of the day. Don’t forget to remind children to keep energetic games to a minimum during hot weather.

9. Regular grooming

Grooming your dog can help them regulate their temperature, particularly if they have long or thick fur.

As well as regular brushing to get rid of shedding fur, consider safely clipping it shorter to allow more air to cool the skin’s surface.

Never shave your dog, as doing so can make them susceptible to sunburn. Instead, speak to your vet or dog groomer for their advice about your dog’s summer coat.

10. Get wet when travelling with your dog!

Playing with water is a great way to keep your dog cool in hot weather and it’s a lot of fun.

Try setting up a sprinkler or a shallow paddling pool in the garden to refresh them while they play. Always watch your pet when they’re playing around water and never let them swim unsupervised.

For puppies or older dogs that love to chew, you can buy freezable chew toys – these are another great option for occupying your dog somewhere shaded with a toy to enjoy.

Bonus: Invest in cooling clothing

There are also widely available cooling coats and bandanas for dogs. There are different options, some that are activated by water, which evaporates, and mimics sweating and so cools your dog down. Others are placed in the freezer and offer immediate relief from rising temperatures.

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