Dogs need to exercise even when it’s hot outside. Exposing dogs to a hot environment can be extremely dangerous as it increases the risk of heatstroke. You can reduce the chances of this happening by learning some safety tips you can apply when walking your dog in hot weather.
When is it too hot to walk your dog?
It’s generally safe to walk your dog when the temperatures are up to 68°F. However, temperatures that are higher than that can pose a threat to a dog’s well-being. Even at temperatures as low as 70°F, there’s a risk of dogs suffering from heatstroke.
One of the biggest concerns about walking your dog in hot weather is the asphalt temperature that can reach more than 100°F and burn your dog’s paws. To check if the pavement is safe for your dog to walk on, try the 5-second test. To do this test you simply need to hold your hand down on the pavement for 5 seconds. If it’s too hot for you, it’s too hot for your dog’s paws.
Some common signs that a dog has burned its pads that you should look out for are:
- Refusal to walk
- Licking or chewing the paws
- Pads with a darker color
- Blisters or redness in the pads
Common signs of heatstroke in dogs
As mentioned before, hot temperatures increase the risk of heatstroke which means that dogs aren’t able to self-regulate and keep their body temperature at a comfortable level. This means that their body temperature is too high without this being caused by a fever. Any type of dog can suffer from a heatstroke. However, certain breeds are more prone to it such as brachycephalic or flat-faced breeds.
Identifying early signs of heatstroke is key to helping your dog before it becomes an emergency. Severe cases of heatstroke can endanger a dog’s life. Common signs of heatstroke in dogs include:
- Heavy panting
- Excessive drooling
Whenever dogs show these signs it’s important that dog owners act fast by helping dogs lower their body temperature (such as providing shade and fresh water) and contacting the nearest vet.
5 safety tips for walking your dog in hot weather
Fortunately, there are several things dog owners can do to protect their dogs from heatstroke while still being able to provide them will all the exercise they need to be happy and healthy.
- Plan your walks for cooler periods of the day: avoid walking your dog during the peak of the heat by preferring walking your dog early in the morning or late in the evening. That’s when the temperatures are cooler which reduces the risk of heatstroke.
- Be mindful of your dog’s age and fitness and health levels: dogs that are older, overweight, and have breathing difficulties tend to have a higher risk of suffering from heatstroke. Keep an eye out on your dog and restrict your dog’s exercise in extreme conditions. Too much exercise can trigger a heatstroke.
- Adjust your walking route if possible: as mentioned in the previous tip, you should restrict your dog’s exercise and that can mean changing the length of your walk or choosing an easier path avoiding hills, or anything that can make the walk challenging. You’ll also want to pick a route with plenty of shade to avoid direct sunlight as much as possible and with a pavement that doesn’t heat up as much as asphalt.
- Pack up the essentials: if you’re planning on walking more than just around your block, be sure to pack the right equipment. During extremely hot weather, dogs can easily get dehydrated so packing a collapsible water bowl and bottle of fresh water is a good idea.
- Use sunscreen: not only on yourself but on your dog as well. Yes, dogs can also get sunburns. That’s why it’s good to have some pet-safe sunscreen around the house. Apply it on exposed parts of your dog’s skin such as the tip of the ears and nose. This becomes more important in dogs that have white or light-colored fur and skin that is more vulnerable to sunburns. Ask your vet for help with choosing a good sunscreen for your dog. Whenever using a new product on your dog’s skin make sure it doesn’t develop any skin allergies.
Making sense of it all
Hot weather is hard enough on humans and we don’t have any fur covering our bodies. So if you’re having a hard time with the high temperatures, your dog is feeling it as well. However, no matter how hot it is, your dog still needs to go outside for walks. Not having a plan for your walks can dangerously increase the chances of your dog suffering from a heatstroke which, in severe cases can lead to death. Following the tips described above is key to ensure that your dog is happy, healthy, and safe during your summer walks.