Exercising dogs in heat

PDSA Vets share their advice on how to make sure your pup stays safe when having fun in the sun.

As we approach the height of summer, many of us will be out and about enjoying the sunshine and expecting to bring our furry friends along too. But on those super-hot days, too much sun exposure can be more dangerous than we think.

PDSA Vet Nurse Nina Downing says: “We know how important exercise is to keeping our dog’s body and mind healthy, but knowing how to exercise them safely on blazing hot days while preventing overheating can be difficult. All owners need to be aware of the dangers of over-exercising in warmer weather, but there are still many ways you can safely keep your dog upbeat in the heat.

 Choose your time wisely

“Whether your pup is an early riser or a night owl, we would recommend walking your four-legged friend in the early morning or late evening to avoid the hottest part of the day. It will be more comfortable for both you and your pooch if you walk them before 8am and after 8pm on very hot days. Take extra care to avoid the midday sun, as this is when they’re most at risk of overheating. Keep to a slow and easy pace to allow your pooch to move at a speed which is comfortable for them, while enjoying all the sights and smells.

Watch out for hot pavements

“Roads, pavements and even sand can become extremely hot on summer days, so it’s important to be extra cautious to make sure that the pads of your furry friend’s paws don’t get burnt. Before taking your pooch out for a stroll, remember to check whether the surface is too hot first with the five second test.

“Simply hold your hand or bare foot on the floor for five seconds – if it’s too hot for you, it’s definitely too hot for your four-legged friend, and it’s best to leave their walk until the ground has cooled down!

 Find the shade

 “Think carefully about where you take your doggy for their walk. Both early morning and evening sun can still get really warm so avoid open spaces such as fields, and if you can, find a natural path for your summer walks; woods and forests are ideal, or stick to the shaded side of the street. It’s also important to take regular pitstops to allow your pup to rest – you’ll probably appreciate this too!

Be mindful when taking a dip

“Taking your dog for a swim might seem like the perfect solution for them to cool off – but remember, this still counts as exercise and you’ll need to make sure they don’t exhaust themselves. It’s crucial to keep water safety in mind – whether that’s the sea, lakes, rivers, reservoirs or swimming pools – and remember to never force your pooch to swim if they don’t want to. There are plenty of other ways to keep your pup cool, as not every dog enjoys a swim! If you are taking your furry friend for a swim, make sure to pick a suitable place, such as a calm lake, a dog-friendly beach, a slow-moving river, or a private swimming pool.

Cool tricks

 “There are lots of fun things that you can do to help keep your pup comfortable on a hot day. Filling a shallow paddling pool or washing up bowl with cold water can give your dog a much-needed chance to cool off their paws. Creating a cool room for your pup to have timeout if the weather gets a bit too much can also help, such as setting up a fan or an area with damp towels or cool mats for them to lay down on. If your pooch starts showing any symptoms of heatstroke, such as vomiting, seizures, confusion and excessive panting, you should contact your nearest vet as soon as possible.”