When is it too hot to walk your dog? - Summer dog-walking safety

When is it too hot to walk your dog? - Summer dog-walking safety

It’s hotting up, and you are heading out into the summer sunshine. But when is it too hot to safely walk your dog, and what should you do if you think your dog is suffering from heatstroke?

By Antinol Team

Yes! Summer is here, and it's time to enjoy some sunshine with your pup. But when is the weather too hot to walk your dog? Grab a cold drink and settle in for top tips on walking your dog in the heat and what to do if your dog has heatstroke.

When is the weather too hot to walk my dog?

When is the temperature too high for dogs to walk?

As a rule of thumb, take care with any dog once the air temperatures reach between 20 - 23°C.

The risks of hot temperatures vary from dog to dog. Bigger dogs, overweight dogs, and brachycephalic breeds (flat-faced breeds) are at more risk as the temperatures rise—but you should also think about your dog's energy levels. If they are a high-energy speed machine, like a spaniel, they are also at a higher risk of overheating. 

Temperatures of 23°C and over can be harmful to all dogs, and once you reach 28°C, the heat is dangerous and even life-threatening, so avoid taking your dog outside. 

Does humidity affect dogs?

Yes, because dogs control their body temperature via panting and evaporation from their mouth and paws. When humidity is high, evaporation doesn't happen so quickly, and dogs can’t keep cool. 

Consider increasing the ventilation to aid evaporation. 

When is the pavement too hot for my dog?

When the air temperature reaches 28°C, the pavement temperature will be over 50°C! Hot enough to fry an egg!

Even at 25°C, the pavement will be hot enough for skin damage which will occur in just 60 seconds! 

Use the 7-second rule to test if the pavement is too hot for your dog to walk on.

  • Place your hand on the pavement
  • Wait seven seconds
  • Don't walk your dog if it's too hot to hold your hand there.

Remember! If it's too hot for hands, it's too hot for hounds!

Protect your dog's paws from burns, and stay off the pavement. 

Is it safe to take my dog in the car in hot weather?

Of course! As long as you have the air conditioning on, or the windows open (with your dog safely restrained), travelling in the heat is fine. But never leave your dog in a car in hot weather, even for a short time. Dogs die in hot cars. At 24°C outside, it only takes 10 minutes for the temperature inside the car to reach almost 40°C—hot enough to cause heatstroke.

Overweight dogs in hot weather

We all know that if your dog is overweight, it increases their risk of many medical conditions, but it also increases their risk of struggling in hot weather. 

Extra weight means their bodies have to work harder. They are carrying excess fat, which is insulating them, so they struggle to keep cool. 

Talk to your vet about a weight management plan when the weather is cool enough to increase their exercise. 

Heatstroke and dogs

What is heatstroke in dogs?

Heatstroke is a veterinary emergency in dogs. When your dog can't cool its body enough via panting, their body temperature rises, resulting in heatstroke. It's a life-threatening condition which can result in collapse, seizures and organ damage if you don't spot the warning signs. 

Dogs are at risk of heatstroke once the outside temperatures reach around 26°C and their body temperature increases to 40°C.

What are the signs of heatstroke in dogs?

Excessive panting, difficulty breathing, excessive drooling, increased temperature, reddened or dry gums, lethargy and, in the worst cases, collapse or seizures. 

70% of dogs suffering from heat-related illnesses like heatstroke have been exercising excessively in hot weather. Learn how to keep your dog cool in hot weather here.

What should I do if I think my dog has heatstroke?

Contact your vet immediately and follow any first aid advice they give. 

Cool their body by increasing air ventilation, apply cool water to their ear flaps and paws, or in serious cases, pour cool water over them (but not on their head). 

Lay them on a cold damp towel, cooling mat, or a cool tiled floor. 

5 steps to supporting your dog with heatstroke

  • Call your vet and seek veterinary care immediately
  • Cool the room or car they are travelling in
  • Offer them plenty of cool water to drink
  • Lay them on a cool, damp towel, cooling mat or tiled floor
  • Pour cool water over them (but not their head).

Want to know how to keep your dog safe this summer? Veterinary rehab specialist Dr Leilani Alvarez gives us her top tips.

Is your cat getting hot under the collar? Find summer tips to keep your cat cool here.

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