Although most owners go out of their way to keep dogs cool on hot days, not all of them know key tips, like how to check when a pavement really is too hot for a dog.
We conducted a survey of 500 dog owners to see how they help hot dogs and where they'd like to see more support.
We all know not to take our dogs out for walks when it's hot, but how do we know exactly how hot is too hot for a walk?
How to check if it's too hot to walk your dog
“If you place the back of your hand on the pavement and it feels hot, it is too hot for your dog's paws,” says veterinary surgeon Dr Neerja Muncaster.
The Dogs Trust calls this the seven-second pavement test. The charity recommends that you hold your hand on the pavement for 7 seconds - if you can't hold it there for the full 7 seconds, then it's too hot for a dog.
Sixty percent of dog owners don't know that dogs' main sweat glands are located on their paw pads, according to our survey. This is one of the reasons why walking on hot pavement is unpleasant for dogs.
Our survey also shows that while owners in the UK know how to keep their dogs cool during heatwaves, this may not be possible if they are out and about.
Ninety-eight percent of owners said restaurants and shops should do more to help keep dogs cool in the heat.
If you find yourself in a hot shop or restaurant and are worried about your dog, be on the lookout for heatstroke symptoms:
- Panting heavily
- Drooling excessively
- Drowsiness or uncoordination
Check out our article on symptoms of heatstroke in dogs to learn more.
Our survey shows that UK dog owners are good at finding ways to keep their dogs cool in the heat. Forty-six percent of dog owners said they put ice cubes in their dogs’ water bowls, 39% give them a haircut and 30% offer frozen treats. Fifty-eight percent even said they’d purchased a product to help keep their dog cool.
Dr Muncaster told us how to best keep dogs cool during a heatwave:
“The research shows many owners already use some of the best DIY techniques to help cool down pets, such as ice cubes in water bowls and toys stuffed with frozen dog food treat paste or water. They can also provide shade in the garden and an area of soil they can dig and lie in.
"Most importantly, owners should be mindful of only taking their dogs out very early or late in the day.”
Luckily, 66% of owners are already doing so. Sometimes this means that dogs might be getting less exercise, so Dr Muncaster recommends increasing training activities at home.
If you can’t time your walks for the coolest hours of the day and you do go out “take cold bottles of water and travel bowls with you,” she says.
If you suspect your dog is suffering heatstroke, immediately contact the nearest vet practice.