Everyone loves some summer sunshine, and all the outdoor adventures it brings. It’s a great time of year for exploring with your four-legged family, but when the weather’s really warm, dogs can struggle with the heat more than we do. Their furry coats make them more likely to get thirsty, feel tired or suffer from heatstroke and even get sunburn.
But the good news is, there’s lots you can do to keep them cool, safe and happy – and that’s what today’s blog is all about. It’s packed with tips on how to help your dog stay cool this summer – from frozen dog treats and easy feeding ideas to warm weather walks and relaxed summer swims. Let’s dive in…
Freezing your dog’s favourite toys can be a great way to make staying cool feel like fun. Rubber toys like Kongs freeze well, and for added tail wagging you can fill them with frozen dog treats. Just pop in something from our cans or pouches range and freeze overnight for a tasty, long-lasting and cooling snack. Alternatively, a selection of their favourite fruits, veg and even a small amount of cheese and/or natural yoghurt frozen for a few hours will make your hot dog extra happy.
Of course, frozen treats for dogs don’t have to be stuffed inside a toy. Our Meaty Treats work well frozen into ice cubes – just use a regular ice cube tray – so your pup can lick or slurp their way towards their favourite frozen dog treat, getting some much-needed cooling and hydration along the way. Just be careful if your dog can be a little greedy at times, as we don’t want them to swallow the ice cube whole.
One of the best ways to help your dog keep cool on hot days is to make sure they’ve got easy access to fresh, clean water, wherever they are. So, if you usually keep a water bowl in the kitchen, add more in other rooms where they like to sit – and if you’re spending time in the garden, bring an extra bowl outside .
Try to change and top up their water more often than usual, and if you’re heading out for a walk (more on those later), take a water bottle for your dog, as well as a collapsible bowl to pour it into. Thirsty dogs will often try to guzzle from puddles, but they can be dirty and hard to find once the weather gets warm.
So how much water should a dog drink a day? Well, that can vary hugely – and measuring how much your dog’s actually drinking (rather than leaving or spilling!) can be pretty tricky. Dogs eating wet or raw food usually drink less, because they’re getting water through their food. Very active dogs might want more and, of course, hotter days will mean thirstier dogs all round.
Lots of dogs love water and will bound straight into lakes, rivers, streams and seas whenever they get the chance. Swimming’s a great way to cool them down – and give them some exercise in the heat. But keeping them safe means being aware of the dangers, and that’s especially important if you’re somewhere new.
If you’re approaching water, it’s a good idea to put your dog’s lead on until you’re close enough to check what it’s like. If there are lots of weeds, your dog might find it difficult to swim, while floating litter or dead fish might tempt them to chew something they shouldn’t . If you can’t see the bottom to check for anything hazardous lurking underneath that can cause injury, or you can see blue-green algae, don’t let them go in – it might make you unwell, but it can be much worse for your dog.
So, what if the water’s lovely but your dog’s not keen? Our advice is, don’t push it. Try gently encouraging them in with some pocket-friendly snacks or plenty of praise, but if they don’t want to, that’s ok. Even on a hot day, not every dog’s a swimmer, so keep things relaxed and let them do their thing.
And lastly, if your dog does take a dip, make sure you dry them properly, even if it’s warm. Dogs with really thick coats can stay damp much longer than you might realise, so keep them healthy and happy by checking they’ve dried off.
We all know dogs need plenty of exercise – as well as regular opportunities to go to the toilet – but when the weather’s hot, don’t be afraid to skip your usual walk or replace it with something else. Dogs’ paws can easily burn on hot pavements and while you could check the temperature with the back of your hand, if it’s hot enough for you to be doing that, it’s probably too hot for a walk anyway.
So what temperature is too hot to walk a dog here in the UK? Well, this is all really dependent on your dog's own heat tolerance, coat thickness and age. Older dogs don't tend to cope as well in the heat as middle-aged dogs, and young ones can become dehydrated very quickly. So, give some serious thought to how well your dog will cope, and make sure you stick to grassy areas that will be cooler on their paws. If you think it is too hot, other mentally stimulating exercises from hide-and-seek in cool areas of your garden, to filling a paddling pool with water for them to play with, can be just as fun as a trip out. Take it easy though, have plenty of water easily available or at least a water bottle for your dog easily to hand and ensure they take plenty of breaks to cool off.
Just like us, dogs can sometimes lose their appetite when the weather’s warm. So, what can you do to help? Well, as a general rule, don’t put your dog’s dinner out when they’re panting – they’ll be too busy trying to keep cool to want it. You could also try moving their mealtimes to cooler parts of the day, like earlier in the morning or later in the evening, and making sure they’re eating in a cool spot, out of the sun.
If your dog usually eats their food at room temperature, you could experiment with serving it chilled from the fridge, so it feels more refreshing. And don’t forget, if you’re feeding your dog raw food and they’re not as hungry as usual, don’t leave food in their bowl for long periods on hot days.
While we’re on raw, if you dread the shed from your furry friend in the summer months, raw food might just help. Lots of families who use Natures Menu report that their dogs started to moult less after switching to raw dog food, with noticeably glossy, shiny, healthy-looking coats.
As we said at the start, dogs can overheat more easily than people. Keep them out of direct sunlight, don’t leave them in hot, enclosed spaces and remember to offer lots of cool, fresh water.
If they still seem hot, a water spray can help, gently misting them with cool water rather than alarming them with a sudden rush from a hose pipe or bucket. You can get the same gentle effect by draping a wet towel over them while they rest. Cooling mats are another great alternative, giving your dog a soothing place to rest and letting them decide when they want to cool down.
For a fun, photo-worthy idea, you could also try using chilled T-shirts or bandanas – but only if your dog’s happy to let you put them on.
It’s really important to recognise the symptoms of heatstroke in dogs, and to call your vet if you see them. The most common signs are very heavy panting and wide eyes, but you might also notice unusually heavy drooling, dark red gums, or your dog being lethargic or sick.
Some dogs are more susceptible than others, so do some research into how well yours might cope. Older dogs, puppies and those who have black or very thick coats are more likely to overheat, while dogs with flatter faces (like pugs and bulldogs) can find breathing difficult on hot days.
Dogs with white fur are more at risk of sunburn – but they’re not the only ones. Any dog can get a sunburnt nose, so use a specially formulated sun cream for dogs (never your own sun cream, it’s not good for them) and you’ll help to keep them protected and comfortable.
Summer can be a great time for dogs – full of adventures, family time and fresh new smells. Making sure your dog has a happy, healthy time just means remembering to give them plenty of chances to cool off and calm down. Have some frozen dog treats ready for hot days, put out plenty of water, and if you’re not sure whether it’s too warm for a walk, simply don’t risk it. Have fun out there!