What to do with dogs in hot weather.

Pets naturally know how to keep themselves cool

We love our dogs so much that we cannot bear to be without them, mainly because they are part of the family and our children’s best friends. That is why we thoughtlessly put them at risk by insisting on taking them everywhere with us during hot weather. If we are going to the beach with our children, to the shops, going running or jogging, cycling or for a drive they have to be by our side.

Dogs do not need a suntan or play beach volleyball.

Most of us love a day on the beach or the park during hot sunny weather, but when we exert ourselves, what happens? We get hot, we sweat and we feel lethargic even in the shade. We can sweat it out and have access to shade and cold drinks whenever we wish, but dogs do not always have this luxury. We selfishly believe that despite being unable to sweat our dogs will enjoy the heat in the same way we do. But dogs do not need a suntan or to play beach volleyball.

To make matters worse we often drag them behind bicycles, take them jogging, tie them up on the beach or outside shops and cafes, leave them in cars despite all the warnings to the contrary and get them to run around and play with us. We think that just because we have thoughtfully brought water and a bowl and let them jump in the sea or a lake occasionally everything is O.K. But it’s not.

Dog, car, sun, heatstroke, dog cruelty
We insist on leaving dogs in hot weather despite advice to the contrary.

Dogs do not understand the weather forecast.

We strangely think that dogs have the reasoning powers to decide they will enjoy a day out in the heat when they have no idea where they are going, how hot it will be or how long they will be out. If they did, many might say no. They do not understand the weather forecast or where we are taking them and depend on us not to put them at risk. They are just eager to be with us and have fun with the family and ignorantly go forth relying on us to be sensible and make the right decision for them.

If they did understand what they were about to go through they might say “Just give me a huge bowl of water and cool breezy place to sleep and you go off and enjoy yourselves”. Sometimes it is more sensible on really hot days to take them out for a short walk early morning or not at all as even the evenings can be hot and humid. Breaking their routine, if they have one, for the odd day does no harm but heatstroke or suffering from too much heat or humidity does. It is reckless ownership to do otherwise.

Left to their own devices most animals have a natural and instinctive sense of how to stay as cool as possible in hot weather and will seek out the most comfortable spot to laze out the day. Ever noticed that herd of cows or sheep flopped in the shade of trees or bushes and on the highest point to get the breeze. Or the cat lazing in the shade on a nice cold stone surface.

Stray dogs instinctively know how to stay cool by remaining inactive and lying in the shade on a cool surface. Photo: animalrightsandwrongs.uk/johnbrookland

If we are all sensible and responsible pet owners we shouldn’t need advice every summer.

Whenever we get unusually hot weather in the UK the media drag out the same experts who give the same inane advice on how to care for our pets, particularly dogs. This normally involves paddling pools, ice lollies and ice packs, but rarely suggests not inflicting the hot weather on them in the first place.

Whenever I am out in hot weather I get extremely frustrated at seeing dog owners who appear oblivious that their dog is excessively panting and is looking miserable. I can see it, so why can’t they. If we are all sensible and responsible pet owners we shouldn’t need advice on doing the right thing for our dogs every summer as surely it is common sense?

So, forget the paddling pools, the special ice lollies, the ice pack coats, hats and bandanas. Just don’t take your dog out during the hottest part of the day, never in a car or tied up in the sun and don’t exert them. Move your rabbit, hamster or rat cage somewhere cool. Provide plenty of water. Its common sense methods without the cost and frills which the pet trade want you to buy to boost their profits and encourage you to take your dog out.

“When its hot let them flop.”

Author: John Brookland

John Brookland has been passionate about animals from an early age and has always been more concerned about their individual health and well-being than any scientific or zoological interest. During his long and varied career in animal welfare in the U.K. and worldwide, he has unfortunately witnessed most of the horrors of animal cruelty there is to see and has gained extensive insight into animal welfare issues. On leaving school he trained as an RSPCA clinic assistant in London and later was manager of one of their veterinary hospitals and an animal centre. He was Chief Inspector and manager of the Bahamas Humane Society in Nassau and spent time in Trinidad advising on a humane stray dog control service, before becoming a deputy manager and animal health inspector at Heathrow's Animal Quarantine Centre. He then travelled the world for a conservation group investigating the capture and transport of wildlife for the pet trade and was an honorary consultant to the IUCN and CITES. He is now retired and still travelling the world with his partner to view wildlife and wild places and writing a blog and books on animals.