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Have you ever wondered how hot is too hot for your dog?
Generally speaking, most dogs will do OK in warm temperatures up to 32°C.
However, take this as a rule of thumb as it will vary amongst individual dogs.
Think of how elderly humans and those with chronic health conditions suffer from heat waves more than others. It’s similar for dogs.
On top of that, dogs don’t always recognise that they are overheating. They keep going and will often chase after the ball as many times as their owner throws it. Dogs don’t step outside the house and a hot day and say ‘Oh, it’s a bit too warm for me today, I’ll stay home’.
That’s why dog owners need to educate themselves on how they can best protect their dogs from the heat. If you do take your dog outside on a hot day, adjust the outdoor activities to prevent your dog from overheating.
Yes, heat most definitely affects your dog. We, humans, sweat to regulate our body temperature, but it’s different for dogs. They don’t sweat but instead cool themselves primarily through panting.
Exercising your dog with outdoor activities on a hot day will increase their breathing and make it harder for the dog to regulate their body temperature.
As we know, dogs are a social species who love the company of their owners, and heading out for a walk is often the highlight of their day. That’s why in hot weather, it’s best to walk dogs at dawn or dusk when it’s cooler.
Dogs can generally walk in hot weather, but there are some details to keep in mind. If you have a puppy, an elderly dog, or if your dog is suffering from a chronic illness, it’s best to discuss this topic with your vet.
If you have a healthy adult dog, you can normally walk your dog in hot weather, but keep the following in mind:
Depending on the time of the day, even at just 25°C, walking on pavement can burn your dog’s paws. It’s important to understand that different types of surfaces absorb heat differently. Sidewalks get really hot because they not only soak up the heat but retain it as well.
Your dog’s paws can be just as sensitive as your feet. If you’re unsure if it’s too hot to walk your dog on pavement, there’s a simple test that you can do. Hold your hand down on the pavement for a few seconds. If you struggle to hold it down, it’s too hot for dogs to walk on asphalt.
If you find yourself in a situation where the outside temperature isn’t too hot, but the pavement is, you can carry or drive your dog to a natural grass area. Natural grass can be six times cooler than pavement, so it’s better to walk your dog on grass rather than asphalt on hot days.
If you’re wondering at what temperatures you should walk your dog, be cautious if temperatures are above 26°C, as there are several things you should be careful about.
You need to make sure that the surface your dog is walking on isn’t too hot for their paws. Adjust the outdoor activities and don’t play any high energy games with your dog such as fetch.
If you go to the dog park, watch for signs of your dog being uncomfortable and break up games if your dog had enough. Heat can most certainly kill dogs, so if you have an elderly dog, a dog with a chronic illness, or a generally unsure, it’s always best to discuss the topic with your local vet.
Depending on your living circumstances, sometimes staying outside can be better than staying inside if it’s a scorching hot day. If you leave your dog outside, make sure your dog has plenty of access to shade and hot water.
Depending on your outdoor area, you should start being cautious once temperatures are above 24°C. If you have a healthy adult dog who has access to lots of shade and water, there shouldn’t be any issues at up to 32°C.
But if your outdoor area is fully paved and has no shades, temperatures above 24°C can be a problem already. It also helps if your outside area has natural grass, as this will absorb heat better than pavement or artificial grass.
Yes, artificial grass can get too hot for dogs. This is because the surface temperature of artificial grass gets a lot higher than the surface temperature of natural grass. It’s essential to manage this if you leave your dog outside on a synthetic lawn. Note that there are different types of artificial grass, and some get hotter than others.
Dogs can have problems cooling down if they’re exposed to temperatures over 24°C. If your dog is panting excessively, drooling, or has thick, sticky, salvia, it can be a sign that your dog is overheated. If you don’t act on these signs, your dog can suffer from a heatstroke.
Here are some tips to cool down your dog:
Common signs for dehydration are the following:
You can also gently pinch a fold of skin at the top of your dog’s neck. If it is slow to snap back, it could be a sign of dehydration.
You can also tell if your dog is dehydrated by checking the dog’s gums. Lift your dog’s lip and check the colour of his gums. If they’re red instead of pink, it could be a sign of heatstroke. You also want to feel the gums with your fingertips; if they feel dry or sticky, your dog could be dehydrated.
Give your dog access to lots of water immediately. If your dog does not drink, try adding some broth to the water, or try wetting your dog’s tongue. If you’re concerned and none of this helps, take your dog to the vet.
It’s tempting, but it depends. If your dog has a double coat like the Border Collie, Spitz or Terrier types, shaving your dog can make suffering from heat worse instead of better.
Double-coated means that those dogs have to layers of coat. The long guard hairs are on the outer layer and protect your dog from snow, ice and also shed water. The soft undercoat lies close to your dog’s skin and keeps him warm and dry.
During summer, your dog naturally sheds his soft undercoat, leaving only the outer coat, the guard hairs. Their job during summer is to protect your dog from sunburn and insulate him against the heat. If you shave that coat, it will change the coat texture and can really ruin the coat.
If you like having fun in the sun with your dog, you’re probably interested in participating in water based activities. These include swimming in the sea, swimming in lakes, retrieving objects from water, swimming in rivers, or simply biting at water that comes out of hoses.
There are some hazards to keep in mind when participating in water based activities with your dog during the summer, so let’s look at them one by one.
Swimming is a fantastic exercise for both humans and dogs and can be lots of fun. Be careful on hot summer days though, as sand can get extremely hot and uncomfortable. We wear flip-flops for a reason, and if the sand is too hot to walk on for you, it’s too hot for your dog too.
Yes and no, it depends on the precautions you take. Be cautious of rip tides and make sure your dog doesn’t drink seawater as this can cause vomiting, diarrhoea and dehydration. Bring lots of drinking water and provide your dog with plenty of water breaks.
When it comes to dogs swimming in lakes, it is very important that you have researched whether the lake might be affected by Blue-Green Algae. It isn’t always easy to spot with the naked eye but can be fatal for our dogs. This is because dogs don’t even have to drink it to be at risk as it can be absorbed through their pads.
Furthermore, it’s also important to be cautious when you throw items into the lake for your dog to retrieve. Sometimes there’s a risk of hidden branches. This can be dangerous when your dog jumps in a lake only to get stabbed or impaled on an upturned stick.
Dogs Swimming in Rivers
Rivers are a popular destination for dogs that love water. With rivers, the same risks apply to swimming in lakes. Additionally, you should also know that swimming can make dogs tired quickly, so be cautious of currents and steep river banks. It can be challenging for a dog to get back out if they’re already tired from their swim. Tired dogs can easily get swept away and into trouble.
On hot summer days, dogs often like to play with water that comes out of the garden hose. While this activity appears like lots of fun, it’s important to manage the amount of time your dog is doing it. When it’s never-ending, your dog can quickly get over-stimulated, and the increase in adrenaline in combination with hot weather can be a problem for heat regulation.
As dogs get excited, they also bite quicker and harder at the water, which often results in the water stream going straight down their throats. This is a risk for water getting in their lungs and stomach. It’s also a risk of water intoxication.
As responsible dog owners, we have to ensure the safety of our dogs. Managing their comfort in hot weather is down to us. It might feel like we are cruel when we’re limiting the fun they’re having, but sometimes we need to be cruel to protect them.
There are plenty of things we can do to have a fantastic summer with our dogs while preventing our dogs from getting over-heated at the same time.
Keeping our dogs inside when it’s too hot outside, as well as providing them with lots of water and opportunities to cool off is just the right thing to do as a responsible dog owner.