News | 20 December 2023
Share on social

Tips to keep your dogs safe over summer

While hoomans and doggos alike love to bask in the sun, the hot summer months can present some challenges for our furry friends.

A dog chasing after a ball on the beach.

Here are our tips on how you can keep your dogs cool and safe over the summer from our Wellington City Council dog experts!

Dogs walking on the concrete.

Check if it’s too hot to trot

When you plan to take your dog for a W-A-L-K, strategically plan your outings around the cooler parts of the day as strenuous exercise on hot days is one of the main causes of heat stroke. Think about walking your pet early in the morning or later in the evening, to lessen the risk of your doggo overheating. 

Be cautious of hot footpaths too – if you can’t put the back of your hand on the ground for longer than five seconds then it’s too hot for your dog’s paws.

You can also take your pets to an area with shade, or even take them to a swimming spot where they can cool off. Bring a dog-friendly water bottle along as well, so they can always access fresh water.

A white dog eating a popsicle.

Keep it cool

On a scorching hot day, you can set a few things up at home to keep your dog happy and cool. Why not half-fill a shallow children’s paddling pool for your dog to bathe in, so they can hop in and out easily. You can also purchase cooling mats to place inside their beds, or you can use it as a crate liner. Or, you can get cooling bandannas and jackets.

Plus, ice blocks aren’t just a treat for humans! You can give ice cubes to your pup to munch on, keeping them cool and hydrated on a hot day. Or you can get really fancy and freeze some of their favourite foods. Some ingredients that you can make into an ice lolly fit for a doggy are: yoghurt, peanut butter, bananas, and low-sodium stock. Make sure you consider their dietary needs as well—check with your vet before dishing up anything that you’re unsure of. 

If you’re worried about ice being a choking hazard, supervise your pooch while they’re digging in. Smaller ice cubes are best, but you can also blend up these icy treats and serve up a slushie instead of beef stock on the rocks.

Three Kings Charles Cavaliers sleeping together

Leave them at home, not in the car

The next time you plan on heading out, have a plan for what you’re going to do with your dog instead of leaving them to wait in a hot car. On a warm day, the inside of a car can reach an internal temperature of almost 40 degrees after just 10 minutes. 

Dogs only sweat a small amount through their paws and rely on panting to cool down. In a hot car, even with the windows slightly open, panting is not enough to keep your dog’s body temperature within a safe range. A dog can withstand a body temperature of 41°C for a short amount of time but will quickly suffer irreparable brain damage and even death. 

Please don't leave your dog unattended in a car at any time of the day. If the purpose of your trip is not to take your dog somewhere, leave them at home.

If you find a dog locked in a car that seems to be in distress, call the Police on 111 or your local SPCA immediately. Do not smash the windows, as this could put both you and the dog at risk.

Karaka berries.
Karaka berries.

Watch out for karaka berries

Did you know that karaka berries and dogs are a deadly combination? Whether the ripened berries fell 10 minutes ago or have spent weeks lying around on the ground, they can be just as toxic. The kernel inside the berries are the most toxic part. They are normally abundant from January to April, but the dried-out husks left around for months afterwards can still do damage. 

Signs of poisoning may be delayed by 24-48 hours, but if you think your dog may have eaten a karaka berry, take them to see your nearest vet immediately. 

How to minimise the risk of your dog eating karaka berries:

  • Walk them in areas that do not have karaka trees.
  • Keep your dog on a short lead and watch your dog while near the trees.
  • Distract them while walking past the area with a treat or toy.
  • Do not walk them directly under the trees.
  • Make sure anyone who may walk your dog knows to avoid the karaka trees.
  • Familiarise yourself with what karaka berries and husks may look like.
A white dog with a stick in its mouth playing in a river.

Check swimming sites are safe before you go 

Toxic algae can cause serious harm to pets, and the warm and dry weather in summer means that algae is able to bloom well in rivers. When ingested, a piece the size of a 50 cent coin is enough to kill a dog. Dogs are most at risk of accidentally consuming it, as they like the smell and taste of dried toxic algae. Pay particular attention to any algae mats, or sheets of algae that float on top of water, that may wash up onto land.

If you are heading to a river or lake this summer, check the LAWA website before you leave to make sure it’s safe for your pup to swim. 

If you are out and about and concerned that your dog may have eaten toxic algae, take them to the nearest vet immediately. Toxic algae can affect dogs within minutes in extreme cases. Make sure to tell your vet that you think it may have ingested toxic algae, so that they can give it the best treatment as quickly as possible.

For more information, you can visit the SPCA website.