As warmer weather approaches, many people will be spending more time outdoors with their friends, family, and pets. While it may be fun to relax in the heat, it’s important to be aware of how hot is too hot for your dog. Heatstroke can be a very serious concern not just for people, but for your dog as well and can lead to death if ignored or left untreated. It’s best to take precautions and know when it is too hot outside for your dog’s safety.
What Temperature Is Too Hot for Dogs?
As the weather warms up, dog owners will need to be more aware of the temperature outside so that their dogs can remain safe in the heat.
How hot is too hot for dogs?
Just like humans, dogs are able to adjust to higher temperatures over time, but whenever it’s over 77 degrees Fahrenheit, you’ll want to keep an eye on your dog. Pavement temperatures can be significantly hotter than the air outside if it’s in direct sunlight—especially on days with no wind and low humidity.
Your dog has sensitive foot pads that can be easily burned even if the air outside doesn’t feel that hot to you. Sometimes the pavement temperature can be anywhere from 40-60 degrees hotter than the air temperature. If your dog stands on these parts of the ground it can cause burns on its feet in as little as 60 seconds.
Aside from pavement temperatures, it’s important to be aware that anything higher than a dog’s body temperature short-term can be an issue for your dog as well. A dog’s body temperature is normally between 100 and 103 degrees. Any time that the outdoor temperature exceeds this amount, problems can arise quickly within your dog. But it’s not just high temperatures that can be dangerous, even on days where the temperature is below 100 degrees but there are high humidity levels, it can feel too hot for your dog.
How hot is too hot for dogs when it comes to humidity? High humidity levels can prevent your dog from being able to cool off efficiently.
Dogs would normally do this through panting, but the high humidity can make it hard for your dog to cool itself this way. If temperatures are in the 80s and 90s with high humidity your dog is at risk for heatstroke and other heat-related illnesses—especially if your dog is getting exercise or playing a lot outdoors. Basically, the higher the humidity is, the lower the heat has to be in order for it to negatively impact your dog.
Your dog may be able to withstand hotter temperatures if it’s just sitting outside but if it will be going with you on a walk or run, you’ll want to closely monitor whether or not it’s doing well in the heat. A good indicator is that if it’s too hot for you to comfortably withstand the sun, then it is definitely too hot for your dog. Remember, when the weather is warmer, we can dress appropriately for the temperature. A dog cannot remove its fur to cool down. Long-haired dogs are especially susceptible to higher temperatures.
How Do I Know if My Dog Is Too Hot?
There is no exact way to pinpoint exactly how hot is too hot for your specific dog, but there are ways that you can become more well-versed in being able to tell if your dog is overheating. There are specific symptoms to look out for if you suspect your dog is overheating. They are as follows:
- Excessive panting
- Increased thirst
- Bright red gums and tongue
The above symptoms are usually some of the first signs you’ll notice if your dog is too hot. As their body temperature continues to rise, you may notice more severe symptoms including; stumbling, collapsing, unconsciousness, and even seizures. If any of these things happen to your dog, seek veterinarian care immediately.
Keeping a watchful eye out for these symptoms can make all the difference when it comes to keeping your dog safe and healthy in the heat. If you start to notice some of the less severe symptoms taking place, you should get your dog into a cooler environment as quickly as possible. Providing your dog with water and plenty of shade while it’s outside can help prevent your dog from overheating.
If you’ve looked out for these symptoms and you still aren’t sure if your dog is overheating, you can always check its temperature just to be sure. A digital thermome
ter can be purchased from a pharmacy or drug store and can be used to see what your dog’s rectal temperature is. If its temperature is over 104 degrees then you should get your dog somewhere cooler and seek veterinarian assistance immediately.
Do Some Dog Breeds Have a Higher Risk of Overheating?
Unless you have a giant breed like the Giant Schnauzer or the Giant Schnoodle, the size of your dog does not typically play a major role in whether or not it can withstand hot temperatures, but there can still be small effects. Surprisingly, smaller dogs are usually able to tolerate higher temperatures better than their larger counterparts, but there are a few exceptions.
If a dog of any size is obese, elderly, very young, or is of a brachycephalic breed, then it may have a harder time dealing with the heat. This is true regardless of its size. In addition, dogs with thicker coats may have a more difficult time staying cool during hot weather when compared to a dog that has short or thin fur.
What Can I Do to Prevent My Dog From Overheating?
There are many things you can do to help reduce the risk of your dog overheating when it’s hot out. Consider taking some of the following measures to reduce your dog’s chances of suffering from heat exhaustion or other heat-related illnesses.
Take Your Dog For Walks When it’s Cool Out
Dogs love to go on walks with their owners. During the summertime, you might live in a climate that sees very high temperatures for months on end. This doesn’t mean that you can’t take your dog out for walks. What you’ll need to do is adjust the time you would normally take your dogs for walks if your schedule will allow it—this might look like taking your dog out before the sun rises or shortly after it sets.
During either of these times, both the air temperature and the pavement temperature will be significantly cooler than they were during the heat of the day. This eliminates the risk of your dog burning its paws on the hot concrete. Pets can sometimes be quite stoic, so it can be hard to tell when they are in pain or discomfort. That’s why it’s up to us to proactively avoid putting them in situations where they would be at risk for harm or injury.
Limit Your Dog’s Outdoor Exercise
The intensity and the duration of your dog’s exercise will need to be adjusted during warm weather depending on the day’s conditions. On days when it is particularly hot, this may mean avoiding any amount of outdoor exercise. What you can do instead is have some indoor activities for your dog to participate in. You can play games with your dog indoors or provide it with interactive dog toys to keep it busy and entertained. You could also utilize this time indoors to practice training methods you might want to implement to improve your dog’s obedience. Whether your dog is exercising outdoors or indoors, it’s always important to make sure that your dog’s water bowl is filled with clean, fresh water at all times.
Keep Your Dog Cool
Any time that your dog is going to be outside in the heat during the warmer months, always be sure that they have a safe comfortable spot to lay in that’s not in direct sunlight or out in the heat. This could be something like a tree that provides a good amount of shade, an umbrella, tarp, or dog house. You can also try adding ice cubes to their water bowl to keep the water cooler for longer if it’s going to be sitting outside for an extended amount of time.
Another thing you can do to keep your dog safe is to use a cooling vest. Cooling vests are vests that your dog can wear to help it keep cool in the heat. they are ideal for going on walks, or for lounging outdoors on a hot summer day.
Keep Your Dog Hydrated
Water accounts for about 60% of your dog’s body weight. Making sure that your dog gets enough water each day is very important—especially on hot summer days. In general, a dog will need about 1/8th of a cup of water per pound of its body weight every day. When it’s hot outside, constantly monitor your dog’s water bowl so that you know when it needs to be refilled.
Your dog can also get some of its daily hydration from wet food if that is a part of its diet. Keep in mind this might slightly reduce the amount of water it needs each day, but this doesn’t mean you should provide any less water for your dog. On the other hand, if your dog’s diet consists of primarily dry dog food, it might need to have more water, as the dry food can be dehydrating.
The photo featured at the top of this post is © Firn/Shutterstock.com
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