Should you walk your dog during hot weather? Advice on looking after your pooch in a heatwave

·3-min read
 (TOLGA AKMEN/AFP via Getty Images)
(TOLGA AKMEN/AFP via Getty Images)

By and large, hot weather is a joy, especially for the sun-starved people of the British Isles.

The UK is currently in the midst of a heatwave, with Wednesday set to be the start, and temperatures expected to hit around 34C later in the week.

Temperatures sizzled on Wednesday, as the Mercury hit 28C in parts of southeast England, and the Met Office and UK Health Agency issued a level-2 heat health warning, for a large part of southern and central England.

But heat can be hazardous for people and animals, meaning just as we might buy sun cream for ourselves, so too we should take certain precautions to protect our pets.

Heatstroke, sunburn and dehydration can severely harm dogs, even being fatal in some cases. Hayfever is also a concern at this time of year, affecting about 10% of the canine population.

Fresh air and exercise is important, but routines should be adjusted to suit outside conditions, and how your pet responds to the heat.

How hot is too hot?

Walks in hot weather are generally safe in temperatures of up to 19 degrees Celsius; it is over 20 that care needs to be taken.

Temperatures above 24 degrees can be high-risk for dogs who are large, obese, flat-faced or very young. 28 degrees is dangerous for all, and potentially life-threatening for the aforementioned categories.

Once you surpass 32 degrees, heat stroke is a major risk. Pay close attention to how your pet is coping, and provide it with ways to stay cool.

You can find techniques for cooling your dog down here.

Should you walk your dog in a heatwave?

 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

Use your own body as a measure: if you feel the need to wear a hat, your dog will probably need head cover too. In lieu of buying your dog a proper little bonnet, choose a route that is sheltered and shaded.

Avoid walking in the heat of the day, which peaks around noon. The sun is most intense between 10am and 4pm, so avoiding that bracket is a good idea if your daily routine allows it.

Think about what is underfoot. Certain surfaces trap heat and can be painful to walk on under concentrated sunshine. Tarmac and sand send us hopping about like popcorn: odds are your dog won’t like them either.


Hayfever is another increased risk during the summer months, when grass and flower pollen are present in the air.

Luckily, protective measures overlap with heat-avoidance: walking your dog early in the morning or later at night is ideal for avoiding high pollen counts, as well as sunshine.

Wiping your companion’s fur, skin and paws with a damp cloth - as well as bathing them regularly - will not only cool them down, but remove excess pollen from their body.

Grooming again extracts pollen, and also prevents the fur from matting, which can over-insulate animals and cause their body temperatures to rise.


What should you watch out for?

When it comes to heatstroke, Battersea Dogs Home has listed the following as symptoms as signs of danger:

  • Heavy panting

  • Glazed eyes

  • Rapid pulse

  • Excessive salivation

  • Lack of coordination

  • Vomiting or diarrhoea

If your dog is suffering from many of these symptoms, you should act fast to cool your pet, for example with wet towels, ice cubes and drinking water.

Hay-fever causes sinus problems for animals, and may require you to take them indoors. Experts at grain-free pet food brand, Canagan, have outlined these symptoms for cats and dogs:

  • Excessive itching

  • Licking or biting their paws

  • Sensitive paws

  • Redness of the skin

  • Rashes on the skin

  • Sneezing

  • Runny nose

  • Watery eyes

Please note, should you have an emergency you can call Vetfone on 0303 334 0612.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting