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Keep your dog cool to be kind 

AS ANOTHER hot spell hits, Dogs Trust, the UK’s largest dog welfare charity, is offering top tips to help owners make sure dogs can stay safe and happy in the sun and keep cool.   

The charity is advising dog owners how they can keep their canine companions cool – indoors as well as outdoors – and prevent them from overheating as the days get hotter. 

  • Avoid walking or doing activities either indoors or outdoors with your dog at the hottest times of the day, so early morning or later in the evening is often best.    
  • Always take plenty of water with you when out with your dog and make sure they have access to fresh water at home at all times.     
  • Tarmac can get very hot in the sun – check it with your hand before letting your dog walk on it so they don’t burn their paws. Try the ‘five-second test’ – if it’s too hot for your hand, it’s too hot for your dog’s paws    
  • If you cannot avoid taking your dog out in the car on a hot day, even if travelling a short distance, avoid travelling during the hottest times of the day.   
  • Never leave your dog in a vehicle on a warm day. Not even with the window open. (Leaving your pet alone in a vehicle or tied up outside can also put them at greater risk of being stolen.)    
  •  Use a cooling mat or wrap an ice pack or frozen water bottle in a tea towel for your pet to lie on if they wish.    
  • Use cold treats from the fridge for added moisture or make an ice lolly from pet-friendly ingredients.   
  • Don’t let your pet get sunburnt – use pet-safe sun cream.    
  • Know the early signs of heatstroke which include panting, difficulty breathing, tiredness, less keen to play, drooling and vomiting, and take immediate action.   

If your dog has collapsed or is struggling to breathe, call your nearest vet immediately as they can advise if your dog is suffering from heatstroke or another condition.  

Dogs suffering from heatstroke urgently need to have their body temperature lowered for the best chance of survival, so whilst calling your vet you can help by:  

  • Moving the dog to a shaded and cool area.   
  • Placing the dog in the breeze of a fan, or in an air-conditioned room.   
  • Offering them drinking water.  
  • Start cooling your dog by soaking them with tap water, avoiding their face. 
  • Lie them on a cold wet towel or cooling mat. Don’t place a towel over them as this can raise their temperature 

Dogs Trust says that having fun with your dog indoors can be just as stimulating as a walk, but owners still need to be aware that they need to make sure their dogs stay cool indoors too, so choosing the coolest room in the house, staying out of direct sunlight, always having fresh water available and making sure your dog has somewhere cool to relax and sleep.  

To help owners keep their dogs entertained indoors Dogs Trust has come up with eight ways to have fun with a cardboard box and tubes, such as those you’d find in a toilet or kitchen roll, including teaching your dog how to perform a perfect figure 8 and popping scrunched up newspaper or any paper items in an empty box and dropping in some treats or toys for your dog to find.   

Dogs Trust Veterinary Director, Paula Boyden, says: “There are so many things we can do to make sure our dogs stay happy and healthy in hot weather, but it is crucial we keep a close eye on them, even if playing indoors.    

“If you do need to head out in the car with your dog, please be very careful. As little as twenty minutes can prove fatal if a dog is left alone in a car on a warm day.    

“Many people still believe it’s OK if the windows are left open or they’re parked in the shade, but the truth is, it’s not and we strongly advise that dog owners never leave their dog in a car on a warm day, even if it feels cool outside.   

“Severe heatstroke can cause multiple seizures, complete loss of consciousness, loss of coordination, confusion and vomiting and diarrhoea with blood. If untreated it can prove fatal.” 

If you see a dog in a car in distress, Dogs Trust advises that members of the public call 999.   

For more information and advice, see www.dogstrust.org.uk/advice