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Keeping it cool: 10 simple ways to help your pooch beat the heat

A dog keeping cool in a paddling pool
Photo: RSPCA

With temperatures already soaring this month, reminiscent of last year’s ‘heatwave’ – a team of experts is reminding dog owners to take steps to make sure their pets are kept as comfortable as possible as they endure the heat.

The RSPCA’s hot weather advice pages has top tips to protect dogs ahead of another sweltering week.

Top tips for dog owners in hot weather

  • Have a go at making some frozen dog treats to keep your pooch cool.

  • Consider swapping a walk for staying inside and playing an engaging brain-game instead.

  • Freeze a Kong toy with kibble and peanut butter to keep your dog occupied.

  • Create a ‘cooling cave’ – choose a suitable room in your home for your dog to retreat to.

  • Draw the curtains or blind to keep the sunshine and heat out.

  • Open a window to encourage some airflow into the darkened room.

  • Place several different bowls of water around the space to intrigue your dog and encourage them to drink often.

  • Hide frozen treats and Kongs around the space, as well as a cooling mat and a cold, damp towel for your dog to lie on.

  • For dogs with white coats, consider popping some pet-safe sunscreen onto their ears if they should pop for a short walk or into the garden.

  • Wrap an ice pack or frozen water bottle in a tea towel, or use damp towels, for your pet to lie on.

  • Use cold treats from the fridge for added moisture or make an ice lolly for your dog from pet-friendly ingredients.

  • Freeze your dog’s water bowl or add ice cubes to their bowl.

  • Fill a paddling pool or spray a hose for your dog to play – but always supervise them around water, and try to avoid them getting too excited and overheating.

The message from the RSPCA is clear –  if in doubt, don’t go out. If you do leave your dog in the cool at home, make sure doors to conservatories, summerhouses or greenhouses are shut tight, so they can’t accidentally wander in and get trapped.

And while the charity believes the public are more understanding of the dangers of leaving dogs alone in hot cars, there’s concern that pooches are being inadvertently put at risk in other situations where owners are unaware that soaring temperatures are posing dangers to their pets.

Esme Wheeler, dog welfare specialist at the RSPCA said: “We’re well into summer now and the heat is on! For so many of us this means summer barbecues, trips to the beach, picnic and festivals. But for our dogs, this is the time when their health can really be at risk.

“Thanks to years of campaigning, the vast majority of dog owners would never dream of leaving their dogs in a car on a hot day, but how many are still taking them out for long walks or cycles, taking them out running, or taking them for a day out at the beach of park, in the heat?

“These situations can pose a huge risk to our beloved dogs, right under our noses, and actually be a ‘silent killer.’ We want to raise awareness to every dog owner to remember ‘if in doubt, don’t go out’ and to arm themselves with the knowledge of what heatstroke in dogs looks like, so they can get them treated as soon as possible should the worst happen.”

A survey by the British Veterinary Association after 2022’s record-breaking summer found that while around 1 in 10 (9%) vets in small animal practice had seen at least one dog affected by the heat after being left in a hot car, four times as many vets (38%) had seen at least one dog affected by the heat after being walked or exercised in hot weather.

Esme added: “All breeds and types of dog are at risk but those with underlying health conditions, especially ones affecting their breathing, and older or elderly dogs can overheat more easily, as well as overweight dogs, dogs with thick or double coats, and some large and flat-faced breeds.”

More information about keeping dogs safe in hot weather can be found on the RSPCA website.

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Keeping it cool: 10 simple ways to help your pooch beat the heat