Hot weather and dogs

Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun

Periods of hot weather coupled with dogs and children spending long periods outdoors, can lead to bite incidents taking place. Dogs can suffer heat exhaustion, a symptom of which is irritability, that along with the long school holidays meaning the presence of children racing around or squealing in a paddling pool can result in a bite incident, as can family barbecues where food and is present, perhaps music is blaring, and the dogs owners are otherwise engaged. A larger number of people than usual are present and enter and leave the premises at will, a door left open can lead to the dog escaping, being stolen or being involved in an incident or accident for which the owner will be legally responsible.Visitors may also not be comfortable with or know how to act around dogs. It is the owners responsibility both legally and morally to ensure that their dog is not put in the position where an incident could take place, and thought should be given to putting the dog into a quiet room during parties or gatherings.

Health risks

As soon as the weather becomes warmer it seems as if the dog population has risen, dogs who have been walked around the block during the winter months are taken to the beach, local beauty spots or the countryside, but it’s important to remember that hot weather affects dogs in many ways.
It can cause irritability leading to bite incidents and even death for your pet. Even a short walk during the hottest part of the day can cause heat stroke which causes the dogs core temperature to rise rapidly, unfortunately if this happens on a walk it often proves fatal before a dog can be taken to a vet.
All breeds of dogs can suffer in the heat, white dogs or dogs with white ears or faces can suffer horrific sunburn. Black absorbs heat so black dogs can succumb to heat stroke far quicker than a different coloured dog in the same situation as can long coated breeds, and dogs with very short muzzles such as bulldogs or pugs who can struggle to breathe as the mucus membranes in the tongue , mouth and throat swell in order to attempt to cool them.

Foot pads can also be damaged due to being walked on extremely hot surfaces and tarmac. Yet still we see the seasonal droves of people heading out at midday for a stroll with a heavily panting dog trailing at the end of a lead. Please please please take dogs out only in the early morning or late evening, your dogs life is a very high price to pay for the sake of a midday stroll.

Heat exhaustion is often caused by over-exercising or running with a dog during hot weather. It can occur even in the early evening so care should be taken with the nature of the exercise given during the summer months. Both heatstroke and heat exhaustion can result in brain damage, heart failure or even death in a short period of time. Again short muzzled or thick-coated breeds and mixes are particularly vulnerable, although any breed may be at risk, particularly black dogs.

Always bring cool water along when walking with your dog during hot weather. To cool off an overheated dog, offer him plenty of water, then wet the dog’s body and paws with cool water, then fan. A dog’s normal internal body temperature is between 100.5 degrees F and 02 degrees F. Signs to watch for are: heavy, loud breathing, staggering gait, bright red gum tissue and tongue.

If heatstroke is suspected, try to cool your dog down as quickly as possible with cool but not cold water, so as not to shock the dogs system and seek veterinary care quickly as this is a serious medical emergency.


If your pet spends any length of time outdoors during summer, make sure he has a shaded place and plenty of fresh water to drink. Your pet will need much more water in the summer to replenish what he loses by panting. Many dogs also enjoy swimming for exercise and to cool down, though care should be taken if they are allowed to swim in canals or slow moving water as there is an increased risk of leptospirosis and although dogs are vaccinated against this as part of their vaccination course they are only vacced against the more common strains and there is doubt that the vaccination lasts more than six months, this is a terrible illness that is transferable to humans and often results in death for the dog.

Please do not allow your dogs off lead near a canal as the high sides prevent your dog being able to climb out if he should fall in.

Dogs die in hot cars

Leaving your dog in a parked car in the summer (even with the window left a few inches open), can cause heatstroke within minutes. Note: Leaving your dog in a car parked in the shade does not assure that your dog will not become seriously overheated. Shaded cars may still get very hot due to the greenhouse effect, and the sun may also move enough to change shaded areas into sunny ones. Dogs left in parked cars also risk being stolen. Prevent your dog from hanging his head out of a moving car window when taking him for a ride. Bugs, small pebbles and other debris can injure his eyes, and he is at risk of jumping out of the vehicle.

Open windows, fire escapes and rooftops

During hot weather, many people leave a few windows open in their home to help create a nice cool cross-breeze. If you have a dog or cat at home, be certain to install secure window screens (or safety bars) in any of the windows which will be left open, or close all windows before leaving the house, if your dog sees or hears something exciting outside he may use an open window as an escape route even if he has never done so previously, also many companion animals fall out of windows, and fire-escapes every year and are often seriously injured or killed.

Courtesy of the Bull Breed Advisory Service © 2009