Tips on keeping your dog cool in summer

One of the best things about holidaying here in the UK is the opportunity to bring along your four-legged friend. Dog-friendly cottages come in all shapes and sizes, so whether you choose a cosy, romantic cabin in the mountains or a family-friendly home by the beach, your Great British Summer should include your whole brood.  

In the peak months of July and August, the temperature in the UK is often scorching
. This hot weather is fatiguing for humans but can be fatal for dogs who find it difficult to regulate their heat production, and are therefore at a higher risk of heatstroke. 

While you’re enjoying time in the great outdoors; whether in the mountains or sunbathing at the coast, trying to find an emergency vet is the last thing you want to do. Keeping your dog cool from the outset will avoid any nasty surprises on your holiday. And the first step in prevention is knowing what to look for.

What are the signs of heatstroke?

Dogs can’t sweat like humans can and once they start getting hot it can be difficult for them to cool down. When a dog produces more heat than it is able to lose, through dehydration, excessive exercise, or a hot and unventilated environment, this can lead to heatstroke. The damage that heatstroke can cause to a dog’s internal organs is severe and often fatal. But how to spot it? 


There are a few telltale signs that you could be looking out for:


  • Increased panting 

  • Drooling or foaming at the mouth

  • Bright red gums

  • Dizziness and staggering

  • Extreme lethargy

  • Vomiting and diarrhoea (sometimes with blood)

  • Seizures

  • Shaking or weakness


If you think that your dog may have heatstroke, quick action is key. Call the vet immediately, get your dog on a cool, wet cloth or a cooling mat, and help the dog to drink small amounts of water while their temperature lowers.


Ultimately, the aim is to prevent heatstroke from happening in the first place, so let’s take a look at some of the ways that you can keep your pooch from overheating altogether.

Whilst en route to your holiday

1. Make sure your dog gets used to car journeys

If your dog doesn’t regularly travel in the car, try and get them used to it before your trip. This can prevent any natural temperature rises due to stress or travel sickness. 

2. Keep the car at a comfortable temperature

Make sure that the windows are open or that the air conditioning is on in the car, particularly in the boot area, and ensure you’ve packed a water bowl for them to keep sipping throughout the journey. Not a fan of putting an open water bowl in the back of the car? Try a non-splash travel bowl to keep your boot dry. 

3. Take regular breaks

It’s essential to make stops during the drive, not just to let your dog stretch their little paws, but also to top up water and take a convenience break. 

4. Get creative with car treats

In the run-up to the holiday, why not stuff a kong with your pooch’s favourite treats and put it in the freezer? By putting this in the back of the car, it will keep Fido entertained and cool for a good portion of the journey.

5. Dog’s die in hot cars

It goes without saying that the number one rule of travelling is never, never leave your dog inside the vehicle when you’re not driving. Even if the windows are left ajar, or you tell yourself that it’s only for ten minutes. Those ten minutes are enough to cause some serious damage. 

6. Think about a trip to the hairdresser

While more of a ‘pre holiday’ tip than advice for the journey, number six is no less important. A dog’s coat can be instrumental in protecting them from the elements, including the hot summer sun. However, while you should never shave your dog completely, certain breeds can benefit from a little haircut before the holiday; you can discuss this with your vet pre-travel. 

At your holiday cottage

1. Create a cool indoor space for your dog

On a warm day, your pooch might prefer to stay indoors. Why not set up a cold room for them in your cottage? Tiled or stone flooring is ideal, as it will help your dog to feel nice and cool as they lie down. Close the curtains or set up a fan to hit them with cold air as they chill out

2. Ensure there is plenty of cold water on tap

As we all know, hot pipes can lead to unappetising warm water, so think about keeping a jugful in the fridge, and top up your doggo’s bowl regularly throughout the day.

3. Keep an eye on any outdoor time

Ensure that your dog is never left outside alone for too long. Although it can be tempting to let them run around your cottage’s safe, enclosed garden, it’s a good idea to keep an eye out on hot days to make sure that they don’t over-exert themselves or laze around in the sun for too long.

4. Beware of the conservatory

Never keep your dog in the conservatory when it’s hot. The greenhouse effect is real!

5. Create a homemade swimming area

If your pooch is a fan of splashing around, you might want to consider packing a doggy paddling pool to keep in a shady part of your cottage garden. Filled with cool water, it will keep your dog entertained and refreshed while you’re dining al fresco or playing outside with the kids.

While out and about 

1. Change up your walking routine

Consider walking your dog during the cooler parts of the day. Early morning or late evening are generally the best times to avoid the hot sun, for both you and Fido.

2. Have a bank of indoor games ready to go

If your dog is bursting with energy and you’re unable to do a good long tramp, keep their brains engaged with fun training, inside games or playtime in a shady part of the garden. Try hiding treats in the house for them to find or tempting them into a shaded swimming pool with toys and games.

3. Keep off the tarmac

When you are walking your dog, take care of hot pavements. Imagine going for a barefoot walk in 35-degree heat. Transfer those images of your burnt tootsies to your poor pooch’s inflamed paws

4. Take care around water

If your dog loves swimming outside in the sea and in rivers, make sure you treat them with as much care and attention as you would your children. Rip tides, dangerous algae and jellyfish are all lurking in the depths! 

If you do send Fido for a swim at the beach, bring a brush to get rid of the salt water, which can irritate their skin. And make sure to bring cold drinking water, as salt water can make your dog sick. With fresh water swimming, check the colour before diving in; certain types of algae are toxic for our four-legged friends

5. Use dog-friendly SPF

Think about using a pet-safe sunscreen if your pooch has very light-coloured fur and skin. Coating the tips of their ears and nose will prevent them from burning in the hot sun

6. Investigate the perfect doggie day trips

If you’re heading out on day trips to beaches, beauty spots, castles or other dog-friendly attractions while away, try moderating the amount of time that you spend there. Head out early so that you can leave before the heat of the midday sun; or go in the afternoon as the sun starts to cool. Check beforehand to see if your chosen day trip can offer you any perks; think a cafe with doggy ice cream, an air-conditioned indoor space that welcomes dogs or on-site wooded nature trails where your dog can roam in the cool.

The consequences of heatstroke are severe. But with our guide, you should be able to prevent this and have a fabulous holiday with your loved ones. Just keep in mind that prevention is always the first step. Keeping your dog cool in summer is just as important as wearing sunscreen. Or eating ice-cream. So go out there and enjoy it!

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