Preventing heatstroke in dogs

Preventing heatstroke in dogs

Safety first

We know that the UK is not known for glorious weather all year round, but no one can deny that when the sun comes out, all we want to do is head outside and soak it up. We're all in favour of endless BBQs and frisbee in the park, but we have to go over some sun-safe rules with you dog parents to ensure your pooch is safe and happy in the hot months.

Dogs can get sunburnt too

It's not well known, but unfortunately our furry friends can suffer from sunburn. It's especially risky for those with whiter ears and noses. Our vets recommend picking up some pet-friendly sun cream and keeping your dog out of the direct sun during the hottest part of the day to avoid burns, as this can end up being very painful.

Dogs and hot cars

Did you know that even with windows open, it can take just 10 minutes for a dog to start overheating? Our vets advise that you should never leave your dog in a hot car. If you're popping into the shops on a hot day on your way home, take your dog with you or drop them off at home first. It's just not worth the risk.


Let's get cool

No, we don't mean cool as in starting their own Instagram page cool (although we are on board this too). We're talking about opening windows, using a fan or pumping the air conditioning to keep the house at a pleasant temperature for them when the temperature is rising.


"If it is too hot for your hand then it’s too hot for your dog’s paws."


While this one sounds obvious, we can't talk about heatstroke without reminding dog parents to make sure there is fresh, cool water within easy reach. Even better - put water in a few different places inside and outside to encourage them to drink throughout the day wherever they may be.


Mix up walkies

Organise in advance and plan walks for the coolest parts of the day – either early morning or late evening. Be sure to set an easier pace on those warmer days and stick to shaded areas. Look out for signs of exhaustion - if you notice heavy panting, end the walk.


Paws for thought

On very warm days pavements and roads can be too hot for your dog’s paws. Always check the ground on hot days. The rule is: if it is too hot for your hand then it’s too hot for your dog’s paws. Instead, go to a park and stick to grass if you can.

Know whether your dog has a higher risk factor

While every dog is susceptible to heat stroke, there are a few risk factors to be extra wary of. These include:


Overweight dogs have more fat cells which provide extra insulation and reduce the ability for them to cool themselves - they also tend to generate more heat even during mild exercise so should be monitored carefully during hot weather.  


Both very young and elderly dogs have a reduced ability to thermoregulate (maintain normal body temperature) so are at an increased risk of heat stress.


Dogs use panting as a mechanism to cool themselves down - this involves the passing of air over the nasal passages to allow evaporative loss. Brachycephalic (i.e. bulldogs and pugs) breeds of dogs have a shorter muzzle which means there is less area for this and they may also have narrow airways which exacerbates the problem. Giant breed dogs such as Mastiffs and Newfoundlands are also at an increased risk of heat stress.

Thicker coats

We recommend maintaining your dogs coat at all times of year, particularly in summer as thick / matted coats can trap heat and cause exacerbation of heat stress. Always seek professional advice if you have any concerns about your pets coat.  

Underlying health conditions

Issues such as heart, respiratory and kidney disease can all contribute to a reduced ability to maintain normal body temperature and pets with these conditions are at an increased risk of heat stress.


Look out for the signs

Finally, be sure to keep an eye out for any signs of heat stress. These include:

- Heavy panting

- Lethargy

- Agitation

- Drooling or vomiting. Seek veterinary advice as soon as possible if you spot any of the above.

Remember, if you ever need advice about your dog's health orr wellbeing, the Joii online vets are here 24/7.

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