Protect pets from heatstroke during hot weather

Dogs left in cars on hot days can quickly overheat.

Dogs, cats and other pets need to be kept safe from the sun over the next few days, as a heatwave is expected to hit the Channel Islands.

The GSPCA has issued advice on how to protect your animals from overheating and potentially dying.

The charity says it can get unbearably hot in a car on a sunny day, even when it’s not that warm. 

When it’s 22°C/72°F outside, the temperature inside a car can soar to 47°C/117°F within 60 minutes. Today temperatures are expected to reach 33 degrees.

The GSPCA says its had a number of reports from concerned members of the public that have seen dogs locked in cars, dogs being walked on hot pavements, animals in direct sunlight and it wants to remind all pet owners of the real dangers to their pets.

Dogs pant to help keep themselves cool. In a hot stuffy car, dogs can’t cool down – the GSPCA says leaving a window open or a sun shield on your windscreen won’t keep your car cool enough and that dogs die in hot cars.

Some dogs are more prone to heatstroke. For example, dogs with short snouts, fatter or heavily muscled dogs and long-haired breeds, as well as very old or very young dogs.

Dogs with certain diseases are more prone to heatstroke, as are dogs on certain medication.

If dogs are unable to reduce their body temperature, they will develop heatstroke.

There are some signs to look for:   

  • heavy panting 

  • profuse salivation  

  • a rapid pulse 

  • very red gums/tongue  

  • lethargy 

  • lack of coordination  

  • reluctance or inability to rise after collapsing 

  • vomiting  

  • diarrhoea 

  • loss of consciousness in extreme circumstances.

  • Heatstroke - first aid

If your dog shows any symptoms of heatstroke, move him/her to a shaded, cool area and ring your vet for advice immediately. Heatstroke can be fatal and should always be treated as an emergency.

Dogs suffering from heatstroke urgently need to have their body temperature gradually lowered:

  • Immediately douse your dog with cool (not cold) water, to avoid shock – you could put your dog in a shower and run cool water over him/her, or use a spray filled with cool water and place your dog in the breeze of a fan.  

  • Let your dog drink small amounts of cool water.

  • Continue to douse your dog with cool water until his/her breathing starts to settle – never cool your dog so much that he/she begins to shiver.

  • Once you have cooled your dog down you should take him/her straight to the veterinary surgery, but call first to find out their current intake procedures and so you can warn them you are on route

Top tips for warm weather:

  • Your dog should always be able to move into a cooler, ventilated environment if he/she is feeling hot. 

  • Never leave your dog alone in a car. If you want to take your dog with you on a car journey, make sure that your destination is dog-friendly – you won’t be able to leave your dog in the car and you don’t want your day out to be ruined! 

  • If you have to leave your dog outside, you must provide a cool shady spot where he/she can escape from the sun at all times of the day.  Please remember that shade cover can move during the day.

  • Make sure your dog always has a good supply of drinking water, in a weighted bowl that can’t be knocked over. Carry water with you on hot days and give your dog frequent small amounts. 

  • Never leave your dog in a glass conservatory or a caravan. Even if it is cloudy when you leave, the sun may come out later in the day and make it unbearably hot.

  • Groom your dog regularly to get rid of excess hair. Give long-coated breeds a haircut at the start of the summer, and later in the season, if necessary. 

  • Dogs need exercise - even when it is hot. Walk your dog early in the morning or later in the evening. Never allow your dog to exercise excessively in hot weather.

  • Dogs can get sunburned too – particularly those with light-coloured noses or light-coloured fur on their ears. Ask your vet for advice on pet-safe sunscreen. 

  • Make an ice lolly or ice cream dog treat for your dogs to crunch and chew to cool down.

  • Please be mindful of the other pets in your care and where you keep them and ensure they don’t get trapped in places such as greenhouses and conservatories. 

The GSPCA can be reached on 01481 257261.