When is it too hot to walk your dog? London braces for heatwave

Health authorities have issued a heat-health alert for six UK regions  (Dominic Lipinski / PA)
Health authorities have issued a heat-health alert for six UK regions (Dominic Lipinski / PA)

London is set to bake this weekend in a mini-heatwave, with the country seeing temperatures top 30°C in some regions.

Health authorities have issued the first heat-health alert of the year for six regions ahead of a surge in temperatures this coming weekend, with London expecting 29°C weather.

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) and the Met Office said the alert would apply for 72 hours from 9am on Friday.

It will apply to London, the East Midlands, West Midlands, East of England, the South East and the South West.

Saturday will be the warmest day, with forecasters expecting it to reach 27C or 28C, with a small chance of it hitting 29C, north of London.

In a statement, the UKHSA warned of an “impact across the health and social care sector” if current forecasted temperatures are reached.

The health agency urged Londoners to check on family, friends and neighbours who may be at higher risk of becoming unwell during the spell of hot weather.

News of the heatwave comes after Britain recorded its highest temperature of the year, 23.3°C, in Porthmadog, Wales, on Sunday.

By and large, hot weather is a joy, but heat can be hazardous for people and animals; just as we might buy sun cream for ourselves, we should take precautions to protect our pets.

Heatstroke, sunburn, and dehydration can severely harm dogs, even being fatal in some cases. Hayfever is also a concern at this time of year, affecting about 10 per cent of the canine population.

Fresh air and exercise are important, but routines should be adjusted to suit outside conditions, and how your pet responds to the heat.

How hot is too hot?

Walks in hot weather are generally safe in temperatures of up to 19°C; it is over 20°C that care needs to be taken.

Temperatures above 24 degrees can be high-risk for dogs who are large, obese, flat-faced, or very young, while 28°C is dangerous for all, and potentially life-threatening for the aforementioned categories.

Once you surpass 32°C, heat stroke is a major risk. Pay close attention to how your pet is coping, and provide it with ways to stay cool.

You can read our tips and techniques for cooling your dog down.

Should you walk your dog in a heatwave?

 (Gareth Fuller / PA Wire)
(Gareth Fuller / PA Wire)

Use your own body as a measure: if you feel the need to wear a hat, your dog will probably need head cover, too. Instead of buying your dog a proper little bonnet, choose a route that is sheltered and shaded.

Avoid walking in the heat of the day, which peaks around noon. The sun is most intense between 10am and 4pm, so avoiding that timeframe is a good idea if your daily routine allows it.

Think about what is underfoot. Certain surfaces trap heat and can be painful to walk on under concentrated sunshine. Tarmac and sand send us hopping about like popcorn: odds are, your dog won’t like them either.


Hayfever is another increased risk during summer months, when grass and flower pollen are present in the air.

Luckily, protective measures overlap with heat avoidance: walking your dog early in the morning or later at night is ideal for avoiding high pollen counts, as well as sunshine.

Wiping your companion’s fur, skin, and paws with a damp cloth — as well as bathing them regularly — will not only cool them down, but remove excess pollen from their body.

Grooming extracts pollen, and also prevents fur from matting, which can over-insulate animals and cause their body temperatures to rise.

 (Sakchai Lalit / AP)
(Sakchai Lalit / AP)

What should you watch out for?

When it comes to heatstroke, Battersea Dogs’ and Cats’ Home has listed the following symptoms as signs of danger:

  • Heavy panting

  • Glazed eyes

  • Rapid pulse

  • Excessive salivation

  • Lack of coordination

  • Vomiting or diarrhoea

If your dog is suffering from many of these symptoms, you should act fast to cool your pet, for example, with wet towels, ice cubes, and drinking water.

Hayfever causes sinus problems for animals and may require you to take them indoors. Experts at grain-free pet food brand, Canagan, have outlined these symptoms for cats and dogs:

  • Excessive itching

  • Licking or biting paws

  • Sensitive paws

  • Redness of skin

  • Rashes

  • Sneezing

  • Runny nose

  • Watery eyes

Please note, should you have an emergency, you can call Vetfone on 0303 334 0612.