All dogs love their walks! But what about walking dogs on hot days? How hot is too hot and what are the risks involved?
In this article, we will give you the best tips on walking dogs in hot weather, including how to avoid the dangers and keep your dog cool!
How to Know if it's Too Hot to Walk Your Dog?
First of all, how do we know how hot is too hot for our four-legged besties? The general guideline is that no dog should experience prolonged exposure or do vigorous exercise in temperatures around or above 90°F, as they run the risk of getting heatstroke and/or getting dangerously dehydrated. Walking on hot pavements can also cause serious burns on dogs’ paw pads.
That said, some dogs are vulnerable closer to 70°F. This includes puppies, elderly dogs, ill dogs, smaller breeds, and those with thicker coats. This is because puppies, older dogs, and sick dogs have more compromised immune systems, and smaller breeds & dogs with thicker coats conserve more body heat. Ask your vet for advice if you’re unsure.
A good rule of thumb for checking whether it’s too hot for your dog to go for a walk or not is the pavement test. Hold your hand palm-down on the pavement. If you can’t keep it there for seven seconds, it’s too hot for your dog to walk on.
How to Excercise Dogs on Hot Days?
So, what should you do when it’s too hot for a walk? Check the weather forecast and look for the times of the day it will be coolest. This will typically be early in the morning and later on in the evening. Try to walk them on the grass and stay in the shade as much as possible. Always take a cold bottle of water with you to keep your dog hydrated, and avoid taking the car to your walking spot. If you do, never leave your dog in the car on a hot day.
Alternatively, if you can’t walk your dog during these times or you still feel it’s too hot, play with them indoors or use your garden if you have one. Play games such as fetch or hide-and-seek, so that your dog can still get some exercise. And make sure he has constant access to clean, cold water.
Lots of dogs enjoy playing in the water, as well. If your dog does, play a game with him using the garden hose or make/buy him a dog pool to play in. This will help him to stay extra cool whilst still getting some exercise. And you will have lots of fun too! To make your dog a pool, find a box big enough for him to splash around in and fill it with cold water from a garden hose.
Heatstroke in Dogs
When a dog gets too hot – or too cold – the internal mechanism that regulates their body temperature stops being able to work properly. A dog’s body temperature only has to rise or fall by a few degrees for this to happen. When this occurs due to heat or hot weather, it is called heatstroke. To prevent heatstroke, never exert your dog in temperatures of around or above 90°F.
A dog’s normal body temperature should be between 101°F – 102°F. If it rises above 104°F, they are at serious risk of heatstroke. Between 107°F – 109°F, their organs will begin to shut down. Signs of heatstroke include excessive panting, drooling, an upset stomach, redded gums, uncoordinated movement, mental dullness, and eventual collapse/unconsciousness.
Heatstroke is a medical emergency and must be treated by a vet as soon as possible. Until they can be seen, they should be taken to a shaded area, given sips of cold water, and cooled down with flannels soaked in cool (not freezing cold) water. Veterinary treatment includes gradual body cooling using water and ice, IV fluids, and sometimes oxygen therapy. The vet will also monitor your dog for secondary complications such as organ failure. The prognosis depends on the extremity of the dog’s temperature.
Dehydration in Dogs
Dehydration occurs when someone’s body loses more fluids than they take in. Exposure to heat also makes dehydration much more likely due to the natural sweat process. To prevent dehydration, make sure your dog has constant access to clean, cold water, and always take a bottle on walks.
Signs of dehydration include panting, a dry nose & gums, thick saliva, tiredness, weakness, and in severe cases, sunken eyes, loss of skin elasticity, vomiting, and eventual collapse/unconsciousness. Dehydration can be very serious and can lead to organ failure. Dehydrated dogs should be offered regular sips of cold water. Those showing signs of severe dehydration should be taken to see a vet immediately.
Veterinary treatment includes rehydration with water, electrolytes, and sometimes IV fluids. Vets will monitor patients for signs of further problems, but the prognosis is generally good with treatment.
Paw Pad Burns
When dogs walk on pavements that are too hot, they can burn the pads on their paws. Never make your dog walk on a pavement that you can’t touch yourself for more than 7 seconds. Signs of burns include limping or refusing to walk, whining, panting, licking, red pads, pads with missing skin, blisters, and blood.
If your dog burns their paw pads, make an appointment to see your vet for examination as soon as possible. The vet will likely prescribe an antibiotic to prevent/treat infection & promote healing, and depending on the severity of the burns, in-depth cleaning/removal of dead tissue under anesthetic may be necessary.
In the meantime, It’s important to cool them down for your dog’s comfort and to keep them clean to reduce the risk of infection. Before taking them to the vet, you should bathe them in clean, cold water, ideally mixed with some antibacterial soap. Next, apply a dog-safe antiseptic cream to their paws, such as Sudocrem, if you have any. Lastly, cover their paws with bandages or clean socks to protect them and stop your dog from licking off the cream.
Walking Dogs on Hot Days – FAQ
Most dogs should be okay going for walks in temperatures of under 90°F. Never exert a dog in temperatures of over 90°F. Some dogs, however, may start to feel uncomfortable closer to 70°F. This includes puppies, elderly dogs, ill dogs, smaller breeds, and those with thicker coats.
There is no universal rule for how long you should walk your dog in warmer weather because all dogs have different needs depending on their size and breed.
That said, dogs don’t typically need as much exercise in the heat as they do when it’s cooler. So when you take them out, keep an eye on their body language. When they start to slow down and pant, head back home.
Check the weather forecast and take your dog on walks at the times of day when it is going to be the coolest. This is usually early in the morning and later on in the evening.
Try and stick to grass areas, shaded areas, and avoid taking the car. Always take a bottle of water with you on walks to keep your dog hydrated and never leave a dog in a hot car!
When it’s too hot to take your dog out for a walk, play games with them indoors, or in your garden if you have one. Make sure he has constant access to clean, cold water.
Many dogs love playing in the water, too. So if you can, play a game with him using the garden hose or make/buy him a dog pool to play in.
To test whether or not the pavement is too hot for your dog to walk on, place your hand on it. If you can’t keep it there for seven seconds, it’s too hot.
Those are the dos and don’ts of walking dogs on hot days. Does your dog enjoy the summer heat? If not, how do you cope? Share any tips you have with us down in the comments below!