It’s important to be extremely careful when it comes to caring for your dog over the hotter weather.
And with warmer temperatures than we have ever had in Northern Ireland, there are many factors to consider.
RSPCA say that dogs need exercise, even when it’s hot – but it is recommended walking your dog in the morning or evening when it’s cooler to reduce the risk of heatstroke and burning their paws on the pavement.
The animal charity say to try the 5 second test – if it’s too hot for your hands, it’s too hot for paws!
Here is everything you need to know about caring for your dog during the summer from the RSPCA.
Signs of burned pads
- limping or refusing to walk
- licking or chewing at the feet
- pads darker in colour
- missing part of pad
- blisters or redness
Tips to keep dogs safe in hot weather
- Never leave animals in hot cars, conservatories, outbuildings or caravans on a warm day (even if only for a short while). When it’s 22C outside, temperatures can quickly rise to 47C in these environments which can result in death.
- On hot days, use pet safe sun cream on exposed parts of your pets skin, such as the tips of their ears and nose, to avoid sunburn. This is especially important if your dog has white or light coloured fur as they can be very vulnerable to getting burnt. If you’re unsure on the right product, please ask your vet.
- Ensure pets always have access to shade and fresh drinking water to help keep them cool.
- Check every day for flystrike.
- Putting ice cubes into your dog’s water bowl or making some tasty ice cube treats is another effective method to keep your pets cool. You could also freeze a kong with treats and water!
- Provide damp towels for your pet to lie on or an ice pack wrapped in a towel. Both simply methods could provide a welcome relief from the heat.
- If you’re planning a day out with your dog, check before leaving home whether dogs are allowed. If they’re not, arrange a pet-sitter or choose another, dog-friendly attraction.
- Regular grooming in warmer weather can help brush away any dead or excess hair, leaving your dog with a less dense coat – much better for staying cool!
- Dogs may also appreciate a paddling pool to splash around in (although not all dogs like water so there’s no need to force them if they don’t want to!).
If dogs are too hot and are unable to reduce their body temperature by panting, they will develop heatstroke – which can kill.
Some types of dogs are more prone to heatstroke, like very old or young dogs, dogs with thick, heavy coats or dogs with very short flat faces like pugs and bulldog types.
Dogs with certain diseases or on some types of medication are also more at risk.
Signs of heatstroke are:
- Heavy panting
- Excessively drooling
- The dog appears lethargic, drowsy or uncoordinated
- Collapsed or vomiting
Emergency First Aid for dogs
For the best chance of survival, dogs suffering from heatstroke urgently need to have their body temperature lowered gradually.
- Move the dog to a shaded and cool area
- Immediately pour cool (not cold to avoid shock) water over the dog. If possible, you can also use wet towels or place them in the breeze of a fan
- Allow the dog to drink small amounts of cool water
- Continue to pour cool water over the dog until their breathing starts to settle, but not too much that they start shivering
Once the dog is cool, take them to the nearest vet as a matter of urgency.