Search icon


17th Jul 2022

This heatwave can be fatal to dogs – here’s how to protect your pets

It’s getting hot out there.

As well as trying to keep ourselves cool when the temperatures soar, for pet owners, it is important to know that this heatwave can be dangerous – even fatal – to pets too.

Dogs (and cats) can quickly become too warm, and are in danger from both heatstroke and dehydration, a leading pet charity explains.

According to Battersea Dogs Home, pet owners should “aim to reduce the risk of heatstroke and make sure your dog stays healthy and happy”.

Keeping an eye on your pet and its behaviour can make all the difference and help owners act fast should their dog begin to overheat. Also, it is important to be aware that any dog can develop heatstroke, but overweight, young, elderly, flat-faced, giant-breed, and thick-coated dogs are particularly at risk, even from just sitting out in hot weather

Keep them cool

Some of the main signs of heatstroke in dogs include lethargy, heavy panting, confusion or loss of coordination, excessive drooling or foaming at the mouth, vomiting or diarrhoea, shaking, seizures or weakness.

Statistics show that over 50 percent of dogs taken to vets with severe heatstroke die. So the advice in a heatwave or hot weather is: if in doubt, don’t take them out.

This advice goes for travel as well.

If you are travelling with your pet over the next few days, consider how you can keep them cool both during the journey and should you get stuck in traffic or break down.

Experts’ advice is to keep travel to a minimum, but if you do need to transport your pet, never leave them unattended.

Ensure they have water, shade and air conditioning whenever possible.

Avoid cars and keep activity levels to a minimum

The ISPCA is keen to warn dog owners to never leave their pets in a hot car.

“Dogs can die if left in hot cars,” the charity warns.

“Pet owners often think leaving a window open is sufficient for their pet but this is not enough to prevent heatstroke under intense sunshine which can have fatal consequences. We all love the sunshine but it is important to be aware of the dangers that can be caused by leaving a dog unattended in a vehicle during hot weather, even for 10 minutes can prove to be fatal.”

Also keep in mind, when the weather is hot, many dogs develop heatstroke on a hot walk.

During hot weather, keep activity levels to a minimum and only take dogs for a walk at cooler times of the day.

Dog walks are usually safest in the early morning and, where possible, restricted to shady areas with access to water. If water isn’t available en route, try to take some with you. Training sessions and puzzle feeders (devices that release food once the pet has figured out the puzzle) can be a great way to tire dogs out when it’s just too hot to safely go outside.

Act fast if you suspect your dog is having a heatstroke

The ISPCA urges pet owners to “act fast” if they believe their dog could have heatstroke.

Move your dog to a shaded and cool area, and keep them calm.

Placing them on top of a cool, wet towel can help to bring down their body temperature, as can using a fan.

Allow your dog to drink small amounts of cool water, and pour cool water over your pet’s feet, ears and head.

However, you should never use ice-cold water and this can cause a dangerous shock.

Gradually start to move cool water over their body but not so much that they start shivering.

You should also seek the attention of a vet. While travelling there, if possible, continue to cool your dog.