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When Is It Too Hot to Walk Your Dog? (You’d Be Surprised)

Most of us already know that dogs have trouble dealing with heat. They can’t sweat, so their ability to cool off is limited. Panting does little to cool them off if they’re exposed to the heat and direct sun. While sweating can be a nuisance for humans, it goes a long way toward keeping our bodies cool in even brutal heat.

However, our ability to stay semi-comfortable in the summer heat can mean we overestimate what our dogs can take. So, when is it too hot to walk your dog? We’ll answer that and a few other questions.

What’s “Too Hot”?

Most will agree that temperatures above 70F are simply too hot for your dog to walk for long. Does that seem low to you? If so, take into account your dog’s body language the next time you go for a walk. If they’re panting excessively, then they’re already overheated.

Because dogs can’t perspire, they can’t control their internal temperature as well as we do. When we get hot, we produce sweat, which evaporates on the surface of our skin and cools us off. Dogs, on the other hand, will suffer from hot weather with little recourse. Yet, the temperature isn’t the only thing to think about.

Heat Isn’t Everything

We want to emphasize that the outside temperature isn’t the only contributing factor to your dog’s comfort on a summertime walk. You should also take the following into account:

  • Is there any wind? A breeze can help keep dogs cool. Although, not as well as with people due to your dog’s inability to sweat.
  • How high is the humidity? If the humidity is above 50%, then both you and your dog will have trouble keeping cool even on a short walk.
  • Is there any shade? A walk through the woods with plenty of shade is much different from a walk on the sidewalk right under direct sunlight.

Ensure the Ground isn’t Too Hot

One thing many dog owners forget to consider is the temperature of the ground their dog is walking on. Black pavement and even concrete can absorb the sun’s heat and make it very uncomfortable for your pup’s paws.

We suggest placing the backside of your hand on the ground. The sensation you feel when you do this is similar to how your dog will feel when his paws touch the ground. Does it feel too hot? You might want to skip the walk and let your dog run in the grass for a few minutes instead. You could also consider dog booties, but if the ground is hot to the touch it typically means the temperatures are soaring as well.

What Breed is Your Dog?

Not all dogs are created equal when it comes to heat resistance. Brachycephalic breeds, short-nosed breeds like pugs, bulldogs, and boxers, are extremely susceptible to hot weather due to their inability to pant as effectively as long-nosed breeds. Furthermore, dog breeds suited for cold temperatures like huskies and Akitas have fur that is much too thick for hot weather. With these breeds, we recommend you keep them out of the sun.

Be Mindful in the Summer

The biggest risk of a summertime walk with your dog is heatstroke. Heatstroke can cause dehydration, and may even cause brain damage if severe enough. These are the signs of heatstroke in a dog:

  • Excessive panting
  • Lethargy
  • Fever
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Rapid Pulse

So, how do you get your dog outside in the summer? Be wary of the weather, and be smart when you do take your dog out. We suggest the following:

  • Take walks in the morning or at night when temps are at their lowest
  • Have fresh water accessible
  • Look for shaded walks and keep them short
  • Take a walk near a body of water where your dog can splash and cool off
  • Forgo strenuous games like fetch and keep running to a minimum
  • Take it slow

With this advice, we hope you can have some summer fun with your dog, and if you feel like they are suffering from a heat-related illness, contact an emergency vet immediately.