The warmer weather can be fun for everyone - including your four legged family members! From holidays to days out, and long lazy days at the beach to visiting around the British countryside, there’s lots of enjoyment to be had for all. But have you ever stopped to consider the risks that may be involved for your dog in these kinds of activities? To find out more, take look at our tips and advice on how to keep your furry friend safe during the warmer months.
When it comes to dealing with hot weather, dogs find it much more difficult to cool down compared to humans. Make sure you watch out for signs that your furry friend might be getting too hot, such as excessive panting and sluggishness.
To avoid this, ensure your dog always has access to plenty of fresh water to stay hydrated and help regulate their temperature. Additionally create a quiet and shaded corner for them, offering a cool spot to relax and chill out during those scorching days.
Find out more about heatstroke and the dangers the heat poses to your dog’s normal activities.
Travelling in the car
Whether you're going on holiday in the UK or Europe or just heading out for day trips, it’s likely you’ll be travelling in the car with your dog over the summer months.
If you're travelling with your dog in the car for longer periods of time, you should take steps to make sure they stay comfortable and cool no matter how long the journey. Keep them cool by using the air conditioning or rolling the windows down to keep air circulating, and consider using sun shades if your dog is travelling next to a window.
Take plenty of rest stops so you and your dog can stretch your legs, and ensure your dog has access to water as often as they need it.
It goes without saying that you should never leave your dog unattended in a hot car - even on a mildly warm day. With windows closed the temperature can quickly skyrocket putting your best friend’s life in danger. Read here to find out more about the dangers of leaving dogs in hot cars.
At the beach
If the great British summer weather is on your side, you’ll most likely be hitting the beach for a day of fun, sea and sand.
Dogs who like to head into the water will sometimes swallow or purposefully drink sea water. Swallowing sea water can cause salt poisoning for dogs so you should discourage them from doing this, as well as make sure you have plenty of fresh water to hand to quench their thirst and help dilute any sea water they accidentally swallow.
Try and make a shaded area for your dog to sit in so they can get out of the sun, and look out for sunburn on noses and ears - especially if your dog has pale or thin fur. A dab of sunscreen can help prevent this.
You should also make sure you give your dog a thorough rinse with fresh water to get any salt out their fur and off their paws, as this can irritate their skin.
Out on walks
Getting out and about with your dog in the good weather is one of life’s simple joys, but there are a few things you need to bear in mind to keep your dog safe and happy on walks.
Did you know that your dog’s feet can be burned by walking on hot pavements? On hot days the tarmac and paving slabs absorb the sun’s heat much faster than the air or grass around them, so become significantly hotter. You should always check the temperature of any paved surfaces your dog may be walking on by placing the back of your hand on the surface for seven seconds; if it's too hot to hold your hand there it’s too hot for your dog’s paws.
Grass seeds can affect all dogs but can be particularly irritating to dogs with longer fur. Their arrowhead shape buries deep into your dog’s skin and can cause itching, pain and sometimes infections. Check your dog thoroughly after every walk and keep a lookout for signs of itching and head shaking, as a grass seed could be to blame. If you suspect a grass seed is bothering your dog you should consult your vet, and you can read more about grass seeds here.
Blue-green algae can be found in many types of water in the UK, from ponds and lakes to streams and estuaries. It produces toxins that can be harmful to animals and humans, and exposure to it can cause a range of symptoms including vomiting and diarrhoea (both of which may be bloody), drowsiness, effects on the heart and blood pressure, twitching, breathing problems, and liver and kidney impairment. In some cases, it can even cause death.
Keep an eye out for warning signs near bodies of water or for any changes in colour of the water which could show the algae may be there. If you suspect your dog has been exposed to the algae, then contact a vet without delay. You can read more about blue-green algae here.
Who doesn’t love a barbecue? You can be sure that given the opportunity our canine friends would love to join in, but it’s best to know when it's safe to give in to those puppy eyes and when to be cruel to be kind by saying no.
Barbecue foods tend to contain a lot of seasonings and fats that may not agree with your dog’s digestion. Every dog is different so while some may not have any adverse effects, it can make others very unwell. Make sure your dog has good food boundaries set from an early age to help stop begging, and make sure your dog isn’t cruising your unsuspecting guests for leftovers when your back is turned.
Cooked meat bones are also very dangerous for your dog to eat as they can splinter when chewed which can cause internal injuries. You should also make sure any kebab skewers are removed in case your dog accidentally eats one.
In the garden
Being in the garden on a sunny day is usually high up a dog’s list of favourite things to do. However, you as their owner need to be mindful of keeping them out of harm's way when enjoying their outdoor space.
It may come as a surprise to some dog owners, but there are in fact some plants and flowers that are poisonous to dogs. This is especially important if you have a dog prone to chewing, or a young puppy who is still exploring with their mouths. To help, we’ve put together a full list of flowers and plants poisonous to dogs.
Just like humans, some dogs can react to insect bites and stings. If you notice your dog acting unusually, check for any signs of bites, stings or any swelling. If your dog continues to have a reaction to the bite or sting, you should consult a vet for advice. Read more about insect bites and stings here.
You should also be aware of any slug pellets or ant treatment that has been used in your garden, as these are harmful to dogs if swallowed. If you suspect your dog has eaten any of these types of products, you should seek veterinary help immediately.
Think your dog may be affected?
If you're worried about your dog's health, always contact your vet immediately!
We are not a veterinary organisation and so we can't give veterinary advice, but if you're worried about any of the issues raised in this article, please contact your local vet practice for further information.
Find a vet near you
If you're looking for a vet practice near you, why not visit the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons' Find a vet page.