If you are looking to book a cat vaccination, please be aware that there is an ongoing shortage of some cat vaccines affecting all UK Veterinary practices. Find out more here.

Keeping Dogs Healthy in Summer

Advice on keeping your pet dog healthy in the Summer months

It has been a lovely Summer so far, these past few weeks. In the warmer weather, as the temperature increases, it is important to ensure that your dog stays cool and healthy throughout the summer months.   

Sadly, despite repeated advice every year, every single year dogs die after being left in vehicles in hot weather. This dreadful and sad situation can easily be avoided.  

Even on a mildly warm day dogs can overheat. In a closed vehicle temperatures can quickly rise to around 50 degrees Celsius. It is a terrible thought, but meat can be cooked in ovens a little over this temperature as the meat proteins start to break down.    

Dogs can die when left unattended in a vehicle on a hot day, even when in the shade. The weather can suddenly switch, so even on cloudy days leaving a dog in a car can sadly prove fatal. Never leave a dog unattended in a vehicle, even with the window open and water available.   

If you see a dog struggling and overheating in a vehicle. Make sure you let someone in authority know. If in doubt then call the police on the emergency number 999, or the S.S.P.C.A. Animal Helpline on 03000 999 999.  It is an animal cruelty offence to have a dog overheated and suffering in a locked vehicle.    

Remember that any enclosed spaces, for example caravans, garages, sheds, or conservatories can also dangerously overheat too.   

For those travelling in vehicles with their dogs during the summer months, here is some advice during the warmer weather. Always consider the weather and your journey in advance, especially if you do not have air conditioning in your vehicle and think about whether the journey is absolutely necessary for your dog.  

Make sure your dog has plenty of space and is not squashed in or forced to sit in direct sunlight behind a car window. Always make sure there is shade provided in the vehicle, even in an air-conditioned vehicle a dog can become too hot if in full sun.  

Make sure that plenty of "comfort" stops are taken with lots of fresh, cool water available to drink. Give them a rest in a cool place with access to shade and water. Or take them into a cafe or hotel with you. Search Kennel Club’s “Be Dog Friendly "campaign: www.dogfriendly.co.uk.  

Take plenty of cool water in a large thermos rather than a plastic bottle so it stays cool rather than being lukewarm. Ice cubes are helpful in a thermos for cooling water too. Also cooling treats, tasty ice cubes with their own food inside, can be used as a travel snack. Use cool pads to make sure your pet stays cool during the journey.  

Also, while at home, to ensure a happy safe summer for your pet: Never let your dog take part in any exertive play or exercise in hot weather or stand for periods of time in exposed sunlight.  

A lightweight cotton , loose fitting, cooling vest soaked in water and wrung out can help keep your pet cool. Also, a dog proof padding pool placed in the garden in a shady spot, can keep water-loving dog's cool.  

Also, on hot days do check that the pavement tarmac or the sand at the beach isn't too hot for sensitive paws. Test the temperature of the surface with your hand, if it is too hot for you to touch, it is too hot to walk your dog on.    

Keep any heavily coated dogs well-groomed out to help them stay cool and use a pet friendly sunscreen on exposed bare or pale coated ear tips and noses.  

Be aware that all Short-nosed breeds like pugs and Bulldogs find panting less effective as a way to keep themselves cool, and these breeds more so than others can struggle to breathe when overheated. Also, older dogs find it harder to regulate their body heat naturally and struggle in the heat too.  

Always for walks, walk your dog in the cooler times of the day, in the early mornings and evenings, and never in the heat of the day.  Your dog should have access to clean water to drink at all times, so do carry some water and a travel bowl with you on walks.  

Be aware of the signs of overheating in dogs, which include panting, disorientation, excessive thirst, dark gums, vomiting, diarrhoea and losing consciousness. If you are at all concerned, contact a Vet immediately.  Heat stroke is an emergency situation. 

Summer is a time to have fun with your pet, so follow these tips to ensure that this is a happy and healthy summer for all.  


Alison Laurie-Chalmers  

Senior Consultant,  

Crown Vets 


Return to Alison's Articles