Dogs in hot cars and keeping safe in the hot weather:
We always recommend that you never leave a dog in a car during hot weather, as temperatures inside the car can sore rapidly potentially causing life threatening conditions such as dehydration and heat stroke.
However sometimes this cannot be helped and you may need to leave your dog for a moment such as to get a car park ticket or fill up & pay for fuel.
If you do need to leave your dog momentarily make sure that they have access to water, that the windows are down as much as is safe to do so and ideally that the dog has a cooling mat and shade via screens stuck to the window/ parked in shade.
Signs of stress can include: lip licking, heavy panting, wide mouth ‘joker smile’, red eyes, drooling/ foaming mouth, whining/ excessive barking
But its important to remember behaviour is context specific - if the dog has just had a drink it will lick its lips and if its just got in the car from a run it may be panting as it calms down.
Signs of both dehydration and impending heat stroke can include a dry tongue and nose, red eyes, heavy and fast panting/ laboured breathing, being sick, diarrhoea, unresponsive reactions to noise/ visual stimuli. If you were to handle the animal (your own pets) their skin would have no ‘bounce’ to it (if you were to gently lift an area like the scruff it wouldn’t bounce back into position), Seizures, collapsing/ weakness, bright red/ purple gums & tongue.
If you do see a dog in a car that appears to be in distress call the police straight away and try to find the owner in the shops - do not break a window to get the dog out, firstly this is criminal damage but more importantly you do not know anything about the dog or how it will respond to you (could be anxious of strangers and bite). If a vets is near by enlist their help as well.
In terms of general exercise for your dog during hot weather, remember that you do not have to take your dog out every day as long as they are receiving both adequate mental and physical stimulation.
Keep play to short bursts with plenty of cool down calm moments in the shade. Water games and paddling pools can be a great way to keeping cool - if you are lucky enough to have a deep pool where your dog cant touch the floor make sure there are plenty of places he/ she can easily get out to prevent drowning!
Brain training such as with basic obedience (sit, down, heel etc.) or trick training can be an excellent way of strengthening your bond with your dog and give them stimulation when it too hot to walk. Enrichment can also be utilised well here - give your dog their meals in treat balls, lickie mats, snuffle mats, puzzle feeders etc to stimulate their seeking core emotion providing both mental and physical stimulation. Dog friendly ice cream and lollies can be a fun addition too!
If you are still going to take your dog for a walk make sure to take plenty of water with you, walk in shaded areas and aim for going early and late in the day when its cooler in temperature. A good test of whether the ground is a safe temperature is to put your bare foot or hand on the ground (particularly tarmac) and if you can hold it there without discomfort for a min of 1 minute then its ok. Dogs have sensitive feet and burns to the pads are often caused by walking on hot pavement and roads! 30 minutes walk is more than long enough to provide an adequate walk in the heat (can be done twice a day) and remember the young (0-12months) and elderly will struggle more than healthy adults. If your dog has any health or breed specific issues such as our Frenchie's and other brachycephalic breeds, it would be wise to consult with your vet.
Keep walks relaxed with lots of sniffing and enjoy the summer!