With lockdown restrictions easing this weeks sweltering heatwave has given many to celebrate however high temperatures can be very dangerous to our beloved dogs. With limited ways to cool themselves down it is our responsibility to make sure they aren’t overheating and to prevent them succumbing to heatstroke. Here are a few of the ways we make sure our dogs are staying happy and safe whilst out on walks…
1. Keep to the shade
When the forecast is predicting high temperatures we adapt our walks and move them to areas we know have plenty of cover and shade so dogs are kept out of direct sunlight for any length of time.
2. Stay off pavements
Dark pavements quickly soak up the heat, reaching surprisingly high temperatures, which can burn the pads of dogs paws making it painful to walk. It’s important to protect your dogs paw-pads as they contain some of the few sweat glands that help dogs regulate their body temperature. We avoid walking on pavements during hot weather and instead stick to much cooler, grassy areas.
If you are unsure whether a pavement is too hot for walking on then you can use the seven second test. You can do this by placing your hand on the ground for 7 seconds – if it is uncomfortable for you to keep it there then it will be too uncomfortable for your dog to walk on.
3. Keep hydrated
We always take plenty of water with us whilst out on walks and make sure the dogs are taking regular water breaks throughout their walks. If you are planning on going out on a walk make sure you take a bottle of water and a drinking bowl and check ahead to see if there are places to refill along the way.
4. Go for a dip
As well as sticking to shady areas we also make sure to walk close by to streams and ponds so dogs can take a dip and cool down in the water. Many dogs aren’t keen on water so don’t force them into water if they are unwilling. Instead you can try some of these tricks to help them cool down:
- Dampen a towel and encourage them to lie on it (in the shade!)
- Use cool mats – handily available at many garages
- Wet their coat with a water spray bottle
- Use garden sprinklers if at home
- Fill and freeze a hot water bottle to go in their bed at night
5. Brain games not ball games
We switch to brain games to ensure dogs aren’t overexerting themselves in extreme weather whilst also ensuring they are staying stimulated during their walks. Some dogs have the natural tendency to zoom around for the entirety of their walks so we’ll limit this by putting them on leads for short intervals to make sure they aren’t overdoing it!
6. Keep close watch
We keep a close eye on all of our dogs during high temperatures especially more vulnerable breeds that can succumb to heatsroke quicker than others. These breeds include short nosed dogs (like pugs and bulldogs) and those with thicker and darker coats.
7. Know the signs
We train our dog walkers to know and watch out for the signs of heatstroke and update them regularly on any changes to advice. The key symptoms to look out for are:
- Excessive drooling
- Heavy panting
Sadly it can often be too late by the times these symptoms appear. If you are unsure if a dog is displaying the signs of heatstroke then we recommend seeking the advice of a vet straight away.
8. Turn up the air con
All of our vans are ventilated and have air con which we make sure flows through the vehicle unobstructed for the duration of the dogs short journey to and from the park. Each dog has their own safely secured cage which we line with cool mats and damp towels further ensuring they are cool and comfortable.