How do I know if it’s too hot to walk my dog?
We have certainly been experiencing some hot sunny days lately and whilst this is good news for many people, dog owners need to ensure their pets are comfortable and coping with the heat. This leads to the question… How do I know if it’s too hot to walk my dog?
Keeping your home cool.
At home make sure there is always a cool shady area available to your dog with a bowl of fresh cool water at all times, don’t forget to top this up regularly. The kitchen floor usually has a cool hard surface to lay out on and open windows if you’re at home to get a welcome breeze going through if possible. If you have a garden or outside area a paddling pool is a nice treat for a cool down.
Walk your dog at cooler times of the day.
It is a good idea to only walk your dog early morning and, in the evening, when the temperature is more comfortable. Never during the middle of the day when the sun is at its hottest as your dog is at risk of heatstroke. This can happen to any dog exposed to high temperatures whilst exercising but particularly overweight or unfit dogs or those who are prone to breathing difficulties. It’s not worth the risk so let your dog relax at home during the heat of the day.
The seven second test.
If you must go out check the pavement first by placing the flat of your hand on the tarmac for the ‘seven second test’. If you can hold your palm on the tarmac for this long, then it will be safe for your dog’s paws. Getting to a shady grassy area is definitely the preferred choice.
Should I use suncream on my dog?
Most of us don’t think of our dogs getting sunburnt, after all they are wearing fur coats! But for some breeds with hairless areas it is a possibility and exposed noses and ear tips are always at risk for any breed. You can buy sunscreen specifically for dogs which does not contain zinc oxide or para-aminobenzoic acid, both are toxic to dogs if licked and ingested.
The facts on Heatstroke.
Dogs pant to circulate air through their bodies and cool themselves down but when exposed to intense heat or sunshine this just isn’t enough to bring down their body temperature. Whilst they do have sweat glands located in their paws, these actually do very little to help your pet regulate their temperature. Heatstroke can develop and this is a serious concern as it can be fatal. Some dogs are more prone to heatstroke, such as the ones below:
Very young or very old dogs
Heavy coated dogs
Overweight and unfit dogs
Those on medication
Some breeds with flat faces such as pugs, bulldogs and boxers. These breeds have shortened nasal passageways and upper respiratory systems so they normally breathe heavily and find any extra burden can give them great difficulty.
Signs of Heatstroke
There are some key signs to look out for:
Drooling and salivating
Whining and agitation
Drowsy and uncoordinated
Bright red tongue and gums
Hot day temperature guide for your dog.
As a general rule, here is a temperature guide to keep in mind whenever you wish to walk your dog in the hot summer months.
32°C+ → Dogs of any breed or size are at major risk of heat stroke
28-31°C → Temperatures in this range are dangerous for all dogs, but life-threatening for puppies, larger breeds and those which are flat faced or obese
24-27°C → Dogs of all breeds will find these temperatures very uncomfortable. Extreme caution should be taken.
20-23°C → Any dog, particularly those who are suffering from underlying health issues, are at risk of heat stroke even at these temperatures. Take caution and limit your dog’s exercise in this heat.
16-19°C → It is generally safe to exercise any breed of dog at this time of day, however take caution with large, obese or flat-faced breeds.
12-15°C → There is no evidence of heat stroke risk at these temperatures, so you can feel confident taking your dog out at any time of day.
Cooling your dog down
The first thing is to remove your dog from the heat and carry him into the shade. Pour some tap water over them if possible, not icy cold, or if there is a stream or paddling pool nearby head for that. Let your dog cool down gradually. If available place cool wet towels over his head, neck and armpits. Gently wet his ears and paws and give a small amount of lukewarm water to drink when he’s ready.
If you’re at home place wet towels over the dog and a fan positioned to blow cool air directly onto the dog. Continue to cool your dog until his/her breathing has gone back to normal. Phone the vet immediately if you are unable to help your dog or if he has a seizure or has collapsed.
Most dogs will recover from heatstroke causing a body temperature of 40C, but 41C is considered life-threatening. You may not have a thermometer to hand, but this is useful to know.
And remember it is never okay to leave your dog in a hot car, even with the windows open. Cars can drastically increase in temperature in just five minutes. If you see a dog in distress in a hot car phone the police station or fire service as they are able to break in and rescue a dog who may well be suffering from heatstroke. Under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 dog owners who cause injury and distress in this way can be jailed for 6 months and fined.
To close on a happier note, enjoy the summer months with your best doggie friend. There are so many lovely walks, countryside, seaside, streams, moors and mountains to explore! If you’re going away there are numerous websites with dog-friendly destinations and accommodation to choose from. Enjoy the good weather and make those brilliant fun-filled doggie memories.