Adventures in dog walking,  Anna and Elsa,  Fur parenting,  Phil

5 tips to keep your dogs safe from heatstroke this summer PLUS a bonus safety tip

At last summer is here. In the past week alone, we have experienced temperatures of 37C/98F and more.  During the days, it’s hot enough that all we can do is stay indoors where we have fans and air conditioning, topping up our drinks with ice or enjoying a bottle of ice-cold beer.

But what about our furbabies? Obviously, we don’t give them a beer or an ice cream, so here’s what we do to take our little fur balls’ needs into consideration. Do our dogs feel this heat as much as us? Most certainly, yes, and arguably, more so.

Click to "watch" this article on YouTube.
Click to watch this article on YouTube.

During these hot summer days, it is more important than ever to look after your dog’s health and reduce the possibility of heatstroke.  Dogs suffer from heatstroke when they overheat and cannot reduce their body temperature.  Heatstroke can happen to any dog, but flat-nosed breeds such as bulldogs and pugs, are particularly prone, as are dogs of any breed who are overweight or have a thick coat.

The risk of heatstroke doesn’t just happen when going for a walk or running around. It could occur simply while laying down in the sun or in a very hot room or in the car.

Here are some tips you can use to reduce the risks of heatstroke and generally look after your dogs in the heat.

1. Never leave your dog in the car!

I cannot stress this point enough.  Opening a window to let air in is not enough. There is no aircon, no cool breeze, instead there is a hot sun beaming through glass windows, potentially hot leather seats and plastic panels. If you have to take a journey with your dog in the car, put the aircon on first and let the car cool down so that your dog will not get hit with that unbearable heat. You know how it feels when you first open your car door and get hit with that brick wall of unbearable heat. And remember to bring some water, for the hydration of both of you.

Used with permission from Home2Home Dog & Cat Rescue
Used with permission from Home2Home Dog & Cat Rescue

2. Do not walk in the heat of the sun.

Especially on tarmac, asphalt, or paved pathways. Remember that a dog walks on bare paws; four naked feet. Imagine taking off your shoes and socks and walking on the path or sidewalk on all fours. It would surely burn! Think about it as if you are checking the warmth of a bottle of milk for your baby. Would you boil it and let your baby drink it without checking first?  Of course not!  Instead walk your dogs very early in the morning and at night when it’s a bit cooler.  Or take walks in country parks and nature reserves with tree cover and cooler ground.

3. Keep a couple of fresh water bowls out (not too cold) and make sure not to let them go empty.

Remember, when it is hot, you can go into the house to get that beer or a cold drink. A dog cannot open a fridge and unscrew that bottle cap; at least, not that I’ve seen. Although our boy, Ubu, was quite photogenic with a beer that bore his name years ago.

4. Try freezing their food.

Dogs like our Anna and Elsa love carrots. We slice some carrots, put them into the freezer and give them as a treat as if they were ice lollies or popsicles. Bananas are also good but remember to do this in moderation, as with all foods.

5. Groom your dog regularly.

Think of how warm you get in your sweaty t-shirt just walking or taking a run, and now think how you would feel if you were running while wearing a fur coat from your head to your feet. That is what a dog has to do all of the time.  But a dog cannot take its coat off to refresh it. Think again about that warm fur coat. Great for winter, but not summer.

Our first girl, Amber, before her winter coat came off.

BONUS TIP 6.  Summertime is barbecue time; watch the food your dogs are given.

You will have friends and family over and you will probably see the odd piece of sausage or if the dog is very lucky, a little piece of steak being fed under the table. Be aware of underlying dangers to your dog. Discarded food can cause serious problems in pets. For example, dogs can eat corn but should not be given corn cobs as they cannot digest them. They can cause choking or worse. Remember also that barbecue foods such as onions are toxic to dogs.

Signs of heatstroke and actions to take if your dog is suffering

Even if you are working to mitigate the risk of heatstroke, you should still watch out for its signs and symptoms in your dog. These include heavy panting, struggling to breathe, drooling, shaking, vomiting, diarrhoea, being drowsy, uncoordinated, or collapsing.

If your dog is showing any of these signs, contact your vet immediately and follow their advice.

You can follow these steps to start lowering your dog’s temperature:

  1. Place your dog in a shaded or cool area, ideally in the breeze of a fan, or in an air-conditioned room.
  2. Pour small amounts of room temperature water onto the dog’s body but avoid cold water as this may cause shock.
  3. Lie them on a wet towel, but do not put anything on top of your dog as this could further raise their temperature.
  4. Give your dog small amounts of room temperature water to drink.

What about you?

Whether you’ve learned a lot or simply refreshed your memory about heatstroke to keep even just one dog healthy, that will have been time well spent.  Feel free to share your thoughts with us using the form.  Keep safe and cool this summer and have fun with your furbabies!


Most leading animal charities have articles with further advice and information for having a fun, safe summer with your pet.  Here are a few that I used during the research for my video.

Battersea Dogs and Cats Home:

Dog’s Trust



Humane Society