During the hot summer weather many of us want to be outside; relaxing, playing with the children, sunbathing – generally enjoying time with friends and family, including our canine pals.

Enjoy the fun, but please remember that dogs (and cats) can suffer from the same problems that humans do from over exposure to the sun, including overheating, dehydration and even sunburn.

Here are some tips to follow to prevent your dog suffering in the heat:

NEVER leave your dog alone in a vehicle. You could run the risk of your beloved pet being stolen, or getting hyperthermia – usually known as heat stroke, which can be fatal. Many people still leave their dog in the car thinking that parking in the shade with the windows open slightly is enough to keep them cool, but this is still dangerous because the sun moves during the course of the day and temperature can increase very quickly. The power of the sun can even penetrate light cloud cover and quickly convert a car into an oven. Also do not leave your dog in conservatories, greenhouses or other small buildings with a large number of glass windows and no ventilation.Avoid heat stroke and keep your dog cool

– Restrict outdoor exercise, making sure they don’t play too hard and have plenty of breaks
– If you take your dog to a beach or a day out please check in advance that your dog is permitted to be with you. Do not be caught out by arriving at your destination to find out your dog is not allowed access and you have to choose between leaving the site and leaving your dog in the car! Do not stay in the hot day sun for long.
– Walk them early in the morning or later in the evening, and avoid being outside during the hottest part of the day
– Make sure they have access to a cool shaded place and fresh bowl of water (you could even add some ice cubes too), and always take water on a walk
– Spray them with cool water, hose them down, or if you have access to a safe pool or lake, take them for a swim
– Avoid leaving them in a suntrap such as a conservatory, greenhouse, tent and never leave your dog in a parked car on a hot day, not even for a minute
– Long-haired dogs are more likely to be affected than those with short hair, so it’s a good idea to get your dog a trim come the summer months
– Avoid long car journeys, but if you do take your dog, keep it cool with air-conditioning on, or keeping windows open, plenty of water and regular fresh air breaks.
– Be careful of letting your dog stand on tarmac. This heats up very quickly in high temperatures and if your dog stays still on it his paws can be burnt.
– If you do keep your dog outside provide plenty of fresh water and shade. Make sure any housing for your dog is of the appropriate materials to prevent temperature build up and make sure it is ventilated. Bring your dog inside to a cooler spot, at least during the hottest part of the day.

Know the signs – how to recognise heat stroke

– Faster, heavier panting
– Barking, whining or signs of agitation
– Excessive thirst
– Excessive drooling with strands of saliva hanging from the mouth
– Increased pulse and heartbeat
– Dark-coloured gums or tongue
– Glassy eyes
– Elevated body temperature (104ºF and up)
– Staggering, weakness or collapse
– Seizures
– Unconsciousness
– Detecting heat stroke early and treating it promptly is essential to your dog recovering successfully. As it’s difficult to detect heat exhaustion in the early stages, it’s a good idea to learn how to take your dog’s temperature. By the time a dog is exhibiting symptoms of heat stroke, it’s often too late to save them.

If you suspect your dog may have heat stroke, please seek veterinary advice immediately. Even if your dog seems better, it’s always best to get them checked out.

If you do see a dog in distress please contact the RSPCA 24 hour national cruelty and advice line on 0300 1234 999. 
If you see a dog in a parked car when the weather is hot, note the car’s details including colour, registration number and model. Note where it is parked then call 999, or either the RSPCA on 0300 1234 999