It's summertime and the temperatures are rising. It may feel good to us but those nice 80º+ days can be a dog's worst enemy. They can overheat easily or suffer from burned paws when they spend time outside. This is why it's super important you pay attention to the temperature outside before you head outside to exercise your dog.
Wondering just how hot is too hot? What temperature is just too much for your dog? Is 80º too hot to go for walk? We share the answers to these questions, as well as the dangers of walking your dog when it's too hot.
Is it safe to walk my dog in hot weather?
So, how do you know if it is too hot to walk your dog? Experts agree that it is generally safe to take your pup for a walk in temperatures of up to 68º, while anything over 77º is considered very risky. This is because even at temperatures as low as 70F dogs can be at risk of developing heatstroke, a high temperature that isn’t caused by a fever. However, deciding on whether or not to walk your dog isn’t only dependent on temperature, but also on humidity and whether or not there's a breeze.
It's also important to note that Brachycephalic breeds such as Boxers, Pugs, Bulldogs, and Boston Terriers have a more difficult time breathing and staying cool in hot weather, putting them at a higher risk of overheating. Dogs who are older, overweight, or have a thick coat are also more vulnerable. If your pooch falls under any of these categories, keep their walks short and add indoor activities to their daily routine to prevent boredom.
Tips for walking your dog in hot weather
Fortunately, there are things that you can do to reduce the risks associated with hot, summer walks for your pup. Here's our top tips for walking your dog in hot weather.
Avoid the hottest parts of the day
Timing is everything! Your safest bet is to walk your dog early in the morning and/or late in the evening when it's cooler. This not only ensures that the temperatures are lower, but reduces the risk of heat stroke and the possibility of burned paw pads.
Check the ground temperature before you go
If you still aren’t sure about the ground temperature, test it with the back of your hand before you head outside. Place the back of your hand against the ground and hold it there. If it is too hot to hold it there for seven seconds, then it is too hot for your pup's paws and could burn them, meaning that you'll need to wait until the ground is cooler before you head out for a walk.
What are the signs of burnt paws? If you've been walking your dog on hot pavement or asphalt, look for the following signs to see if your dog has burnt paws:
Limping or attempting to walk slowly
Licking or chewing of the paws
Darkening of the skin around the paws
Any blisters, peeling or redness
Any other damage to their paws
Excessive amounts of heat coming of their paws (when you touch them)
Adjust your walking route
You may also want to think about adjusting your usual walking route, both in terms of where you walk and how far. When it is very hot, you’ll need to reduce the amount of exercise that your dog is getting which means shorter walks with less intensity. So change up your hilly hikes for gentle strolls along a shady route when the temperature rises and avoid pavement and asphalt – your dog and your body will thank you for it.
Take it easy
Hold off on your plans to run or cycle with your dog; now is not the time for vigorous activities. When temperatures rise, slow and steady is the way to go. Let your pup sniff things during walks—this also gives them a chance to engage in their natural instincts, as sniffing is one primary way our canine friends gather information about the world. In fact, smell is just as important as sight for our dogs!
Always take water with you
If you're heading to the park or hitting up your favorite trail, you should plan to take water with you. It's easy to get dehydrated when the weather is warm, and your dog is no different, so be sure to pack a collapsible water bowl and a bottle of fresh, cool water so you can offer your dog a drink at regular intervals.
Don’t leave your dog in the car
Ideally, you should be able to head out on a walk directly from your home, but if you have to drive somewhere first, make sure that you keep your dog cool while traveling and, if you need to make a pit stop, never, ever leave them in the car, even just for a few moments as it can be fatal.
Know how to spot heatstroke
Heatstroke is a life-threatening condition; signs include but are not limited to heavy panting, excessive drooling, vomiting, lethargy, staggering, collapsing, and a bright red tongue. If you suspect your dog is suffering from a heatstroke, move them to a shaded cool area right away lie them on a cool wet towel or cooling mat. Don't place a towel over them as this can raise their temperature. You can also spray cool water (not ice water) to their ears, abdomen, and paw pads. Temperature needs to be lowered gradually or they can go into shock. Seek immediate advice from your vet.
As you can see, weather plays an important role in a successful summer dog walk. As a pet owner, you'll need to do your part to ensure the safety of your dog. Always remember that if it's too hot for you, then it's too hot for them!