If you board your horse, you may find that many barns do not allow family pets into their facility. Many people take their dogs along for the car ride and then take them to a park after the barn visit. But during the hot days of summer, this may not be a wise thing to do.
It can get unbearably hot in a car on a sunny day, even when it’s not that warm. In fact, when it’s 22°C/72°F outside, the temperature inside a car can soar to 47°C/117°F within 60 minutes. Unlike humans, dogs pant to help keep themselves cool. In a hot stuffy car dogs can’t cool down – leaving a window open or a sunshield on your windscreen won’t keep your car cool enough. Dogs die in hot cars.
Heatstroke can be fatal. Do everything you can to prevent it. Some dogs are more prone to heatstroke. For example, dogs with short snouts, fatter or heavily muscled dogs and long-haired breeds, as well as very old or very young dogs. Dogs with certain diseases are more prone to heatstroke, as are dogs on certain medication. If dogs are unable to reduce their body temperature, they will develop heatstroke.
Here are some signs to look for:
- heavy panting
- profuse salivation
- a rapid pulse
- very red gums/tongue
- lack of coordination
- reluctance or inability to rise after collapsing
- loss of consciousness in extreme circumstances.
If your dog shows any symptoms of heatstroke, move him/her to a shaded, cool area and ring your vet for advice immediately.
Heatstroke can be fatal and should always be treated as an emergency. Dogs suffering from heatstroke urgently need to have their body temperature gradually lowered:
- Immediately douse your dog with cool (not cold) water, to avoid shock – If available, run cool water over him/her, or use a spray filled with cool water and place your dog in the breeze or in the shade of a tree.
- Let your dog drink small amounts of cool water.
- Continue to douse your dog with cool water until his/her breathing starts to settle – never cool your dog so much that he/she begins to shiver.
Once you have cooled your dog down you should take him/her straight to the veterinarian.
Top tips for warm weather
- Your dog should always be able to move into a cooler, ventilated environment if he/she is feeling hot.
- Never leave your dog alone in a car. If you want to take your dog with you on a car journey, make sure that your destination is dog-friendly – you won’t be able to leave your dog in the car and you don’t want your day out to be ruined!
- If you have to leave your dog outside, you must provide a cool shady spot where he/she can escape from the sun at all times of the day.
- Make sure your dog always has a good supply of drinking water, in a weighted bowl that can’t be knocked over. Carry water with you on hot days and give your dog frequent small amounts.
- Groom your dog regularly to get rid of excess hair. Give long-coated breeds a haircut at the start of the summer, and later in the season, if necessary.
- Dogs need exercise - even when it is hot. Walk your dog early in the morning or later in the evening. Never allow your dog to exercise excessively in hot weather.
- Dogs can get sunburned too – particularly those with light-coloured noses or light-coloured fur on their ears. Ask your vet for advice on pet-safe sunscreen.