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Summer Sun

Like most people I know with a canine member of the family, it won't be long before we are all headed out for the great outdoors.

It is worth remembering that our four legged friends can be susceptible to injury and illness in the warmer weather. These can include; sunburn, heatstroke, burns to the foot pads and deydration.

Careful planning and being prepared can help keep our dogs safe and ensure that the whole family can have fun in the sun.


Just like us humans, dogs can suffer with sunburn especially when they have been exposed to the sun for prolonged periods of time. This is particularly important for dogs with light coloured fur over the ears and nose or have parts of the body with little or no fur covering.

Symptoms can be:

  • Red inflamed skin

  • Pain and swelling of the skin

  • Scaly skin

  • Hair loss

To help prevent this, apply a pet friendly sun cream. If you are not sure on what to buy , contact your vet who will be happy to advise.


Heatstroke or nonpyrogenic hyperthermia (a temperature not caused by a fever) occurs when a dog can no longer self regulate and keep its body temperature at a normal level. All dogs are susceptible to heatstroke, but some more than others. These include: dogs which are overweight, have a thick fur coat, older/younger, short nosed (brachycephalic) or any suffering from any medical conditions.

Causes of heatstroke can be:

  • Hot/humid weather

  • Left in a hot car

  • No access to shade

  • No access to water

  • Poor ventilation

  • Being exercised in the heat

  • Inadequate cooling off after excercise

  • Being kept near an area which reflects the heat

Symptoms of heatstroke:

  • Excessive panting

  • Rapid pulse/heart beat

  • Body temperature of 40oc +

  • Dehydration

  • Drooling

  • Vomiting

  • Lethargic

  • Dark coloured gums/tongue

  • Little or no weeing

  • Signs of discomfort

  • Uncoordinated

  • Seizures

  • Unconsciousness

How to treat heatstroke

  • Remove the dog from the heat source immediately and call a vet

  • Apply cool (not cold) water to the dog's paws, chest and mouth. Wetting a towel or blanket and allowing the dog to sit or lay on it is better than covering a dog with a wet towel/blanket as this may eventually dry out and trap heat

  • Place the dog in front of a gentle fan

  • Allow the dog to drink small amounts of cool water

  • Transport to a vet as soon as possible

  • Make sure the vehicle you are travelling in is not too hot potentially raising the dog's body temperature again

  • REMEMBER: Prevention is better than cure!

Tips on how to keep your dog cool in the warmer weather

  • Fill a kong or similar toy with healthy treats and pop this in the freezer

  • Add ice cubes to drinking water

  • Provide plenty of shade if outdoors, even in your own garden

  • Be aware, if your dog lives outside, dog kennels can become a heat trap

  • Provide access to water at all times. Do not wait for your dog to ask for water

  • Only walk your dog at the beginning and the end of the day when it is cooler

  • A small paddling pool can provide great fun for your dog as well as helping to keep them cool

Burns to the pads

Dogs' paw pads can be just as sensitive as humans' feet. If you are taking a walk on tarmac, concrete, metal or even sandy surfaces, each can reach temperatures high enough to cause intense discomfort, pain and even burns. Remember that in extreme heat, surfaces can retain heat for a number of hours.

Burns can affect all four feet making it incredibly difficult for a dog to walk for many weeks until the skin has fully healed.

REMEMBER: The pavement rule. Place the back of your hand on the ground. If you cannot leave your hand in place for 5 seconds, then it is too hot for your dog.

Signs that a surface is too hot for a dog to walk on:

  • Unusual gait

  • Tentatively walking

  • Reluntance to walk

  • Whimpering/crying

  • Excessive licking of the feet

How to prevent burns to the pads

  • Walk at the coolest parts of the day

  • Try and avoid man made surfaces, grass is much cooler

  • If walking on hot surfaces cannot be avoided, consider canine footwear. These are specialised boots made for dogs offering protection

Treating burnt pads

Prevent the dog from walking further on the hot surface

Apply cool water/compress to the affected pads

Seek veterinary advise as soon as possible


Dogs, just like humans require water to ensure their bodies function correctly.

Water is so important that, essentially all bodily functions require it to remain healthy and operational. If your dog loses more water than they are taking in, they will begin to dehydrate and their health will eventually deteriorate.

Your dog's normal activities, such as panting, breathing, urinating, and defecating, as well as simple evaporation through their paws, can all cause your dog to lose fluids throughout the day. When your dog eats and drinks, the lost water is replaced.

However, if your dog's water intake becomes less than what they are losing, dehydration will begin. This causes a reduction in bodily fluids which in turn reduces their blood flow and the delivery of oxygen to their vital organs and tissues.

Symptoms of dehydration:

  • Loss of elasticity in your dog's skin. To test this, simply pull lightly on their skin on the back of the neck. If it doesn't return to its original position quickly, your dog is potentially experiencing dehydration.

  • Xerostomia. This is the loss of moisture in your dog's gums, causing them to become dry and sticky with thick saliva.

  • Excessive panting

  • Decrease in urine output

  • Passing dark urine

  • Strong urine odour

  • Lethargy

  • Loss of appetite

  • Dry nose

  • Sunken eyes

  • Collaspe

  • Shock

Preventing dehydration

  • Always have ample fresh water readily available. This may mean topping up more often in the warmer weather. Place out of direct sunlight

  • Take a water supply with you when out walking

  • Clean water bowls regularly. A build up of Biofilm (a build up of slime on the surface of the water) will put a dog off drinking from the bowl as well as being bad for their health

  • Exercise in the cooler parts of the day

  • Encourage picky drinkers to drink little and often

Treatment dehydration

Encourage drinking water little and often but for more severe symptoms, consult your vet.


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