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Travelling with your dog in the summer

Travelling with your dog in the summer

While the summertime means longer days and beautiful weather, there are some risks to be aware of when travelling with your dog. Hot temperatures can increase the chance of heatstroke, and busy public transport can be stuffy and uncomfortable for your dog. Being prepared can help you and your furry friend get the most out of your summer adventures.

Whether you’re taking your dog on a trip to the countryside or you’re unsure how to navigate the city in summer, here’s how to beat the heat while travelling with your dog.

Note: Avoid the midday heat and busy crowds by travelling early or late in the day.

Top tips for travelling with your dog during the summer

  • Carry water at all times and offer this to your dog regularly. Collapsible water bowls are useful for being on the go.
  • Consider travelling with a cooling mat so that your dog can choose to lie on this if they wish
  • Never leave your dog alone in the car in the heat
  • Consider having your dog groomed at the start of the warmer season. Regular grooming and a tangle-free coat helps your dog to regulate their own temperature.
  • Check the heat of the pavement before walking your dog on the concrete
  • Carry pet-safe sunblock for dogs that are pale in colour, or have exposed skin. Pet sunblock should not have zinc oxide or para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA)

Walking your dog in summer

Taking a nice stroll in the sunshine with your dog can be the perfect way to get around. However, during midday the temperature is at its highest point. Pavements can heat up and cause your dog’s paws to burn.

In hot weather, dogs should only be walked first thing in the morning and last thing at night. A simple test as to whether it’s safe is to take your own shoes off and stand on the path. If you are unable to keep your feet on the path for five seconds, then it is not safe to walk your dog.

In times of extreme heat, it is not necessary to walk or exercise your dog. Instead, allow them to rest and relax in a cool, shaded area at home.

Note: Especially take care of overweight, brachycephalic and elderly dogs which are at a higher risk of getting heatstroke than other dogs.

Dogs in cars

Most of us will use a car with our dog at some point – however, you should never leave your dog in a cab or car unattended.

Temperatures rocket inside a car on a warm day. When it’s 24 degrees celsius outside, in minutes your car can reach temperatures up to 38 degrees celsius. Dogs cannot sweat in the same way that people can which means they struggle to keep cool. Never leave a dog in a hot car, even for a moment.

There are some other precautions you should take when travelling by car or cab:

  • Make sure your dog is secured by a harness or barrier and that there is plenty of ventilation
  • Sun screens on the windows will offer protection from direct sunlight
  • Air conditioning should be circulating around the car, not just at the driver
  • You can use a misting spray to keep your dog cool, but make sure to avoid their face
  • If you are planning longer car journeys, schedule plenty of stops for rest in a shaded area, as well as drinks of water

Dogs on trains

Luckily most trains have air conditioning which can offer a much needed escape from the heat in the summer. However, if you find that your train doesn’t have air conditioning or is broken, then it may be best to wait for the next train.

Trains can also be a new, overwhelming experience for dogs. Try to avoid travelling during peak times – before 9.30am and after 4.00pm – to minimise stress and overheating.

Dogs on the London Underground

While the London Underground is a great way to get across London quickly, you should avoid travel on the tube at peak times in the summer. Busy tubes can cause stress for dogs, while also feeling far hotter – during hot spells it can reach over 30 degrees celsius.

Peak times on the Underground are between 6.30am and 9.30am, and between 4.00pm and 7.00pm. On weekends, the tube is generally quieter before noon and after 6.00pm.

It is also advised that you use lifts wherever possible, or ensure you can carry your dog up escalators for their safety. Hair can become trapped in escalator steps, resulting in serious injury.

Dogs on buses

Overcrowding on the bus can cause temperatures on board to soar. To avoid your dog overheating, you should try to find a bus that has enough room for your dog to comfortably move around and lie down. During weekdays buses are quieter between 8.30am and 3.00pm, and after 5.30pm. On weekends, they are quieter earlier in the day, and later in the evening.

Dogs on boats

Taking your dog on a boat – such as the Thames Clipper – can be a new, fun experience. You should ensure that your dog is safely on lead and in shelter from the elements. The sun can be particularly strong when you’re out on the water and your dog may not show signs of heatstroke straight away.

Signs of heatstroke in dogs

Heatstroke can be fatal and requires urgent veterinary attention. Look out for:

  • heavy panting or difficulty breathing
  • excessive drooling
  • loss of energy or coordination
  • purple gums or redness of the skin
  • collapse or vomiting

If you recognise these signs then stop, find a shady spot, offer your dog water and wet the coat with tepid water. Contact your vet immediately. Call 999 right away if you see a dog trapped in a car on a hot day.

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