It’s a sunny day in Cumbria, sunny and blue skies whilst the country is in lockdown. So many people off work, so many people with little or no safe garden to spend time in. So taking the dog out seems a good idea – but it’s hot enough for heatstroke today, lockdown or not.
In the UK we tend to be a little slow on the uptake of season change. We walk around in coats in the heat for a week, before we even realise it’s summer. We see dogs left in cars in March and April – like we have decided it’s cool enough in the season and the weather must agree.
Dogs are not fans of the heat. Yes they like the warm of the sunshine on their coats, when they are lying still. They enjoy the sun until they pant at home, then move into the shade because their body tells them to. They don’t like being forced to walk or run in the heat – well they are after all wearing fur coats.
Today’s lovely weather has taken us by surprise. Our dogs were heartily panting on their walk and we were home for 10am. At that point more and more people were arriving in the walking area with dogs, and the day getting warmer and warmer. Normally a lot of people would be at work, the dogs would be safe and cool indoors, but dog walking is one of our keys to leaving the house at the moment. I suspect that people will be tempted to take their dogs out a bit more, to take them out at midday when the sun is highest in the sky and to keep them out in that sun for much longer than is good for the dog.
If this is you, or you know someone who might be tempted to do that, be fully aware of the risks. Heatstroke can kill your dog - they might seem like they are heavily panting. They might even look like they are having the best time while panting, but dogs are not safe running around for long in the heat, even leisurely walking under a hot sun can be fatal to a dog if it goes on too long. Heatstroke is often irreversible, it can do enough damage to kill a dog before the symptoms really start to show. It’s that serious.
So if you’re tempted to take your dog out just after lunch, or walk them longer that you normally would, please be aware that you might be putting them in danger. Certainly carry water, go somewhere shady and don’t keep them out too long. Of course most of our dogs would follow us to the ends of the earth – but on hot days, doing that could cost them their lives.