How Hot Is Too Hot For A Dog?
If you have to ask, it's hot enough to worry 🥵
Summertime can get brutally hot — to the point where it can actually be dangerous for dogs.
So how hot is too hot for dogs, and how can you know if it’s safe to bring your pet outside or go for a walk?
As a rule of thumb, “If it is too hot for you, it is too hot for your pet,” Dr. Patricia Squillace, chief medical officer at Veterinary Care Group, told The Dodo.
Here’s what you need to know before taking your dog outside in hot weather.
How hot is too hot for dogs, exactly? What temperatures are considered dangerous?
Just like with humans, each dog will have a slightly different tolerance to heat.
“Susceptibility to the heat and heat exhaustion varies from individual to individual,” Dr. Squillace said. “So it is impossible to give a specific number to how high a temperature an animal can support.”
In general, temperatures above 90 degrees Fahrenheit can quickly get extra risky, so try to avoid going outdoors if it’s anything hotter than that.
For temperatures that range from 80 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit, try not to stay out for too long, make sure your pup has plenty of access to water and shade while he’s outside and keep an eye on your dog for early signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke.
As a rule of thumb: If you step outside and it just feels unbearable, maybe think twice before taking your pup to the dog park or for a long walk.
Dangers of hot temperatures for dogs
Dogs aren’t as great at keeping themselves cool as humans are. Dogs don’t sweat as much as we do — they can only sweat through their paws — and panting is their main defense against the heat. So it’s pretty easy for them to get sick quickly if it gets too hot.
“Although dogs do have small sweat glands in their pads, their primary method of thermal regulation is through panting,” Dr. Squillace said. “So if the temperature gets too high, dogs are not able to cool their body effectively.”
That’s a scary thought, especially since dogs, like humans, are vulnerable to several heat-related illnesses that can get really bad really quickly — like heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heatstroke.
“Dogs are subject to heat exhaustion, leading to potential heatstroke as the temperature rises,” Dr. Squillace said.
Heatstroke is a potentially fatal condition where a dog’s internal temperature reaches above 105.8 degrees Fahrenheit (about three degrees higher than normal), which can cause lethargy, weakness, seizure, coma and even brain damage in dogs.
Signs of heat exhaustion in dogs
Pay close attention to your dog when he’s outside in hot temperatures. If you notice the following signs, it’s possible your dog has a heat-related illness, like heat exhaustion.
- Hot skin
- Excessive panting
- Bright red gums
- Vomiting or diarrhea
If your dog shows one or a few of these signs when you’re outside, get him indoors or under some shade as quickly as possible, and make sure he has plenty of access to water to drink. If you’re able to get him wet with a hose or a wet towel, that will definitely help.
If his condition doesn’t improve, take him to a vet or emergency clinic immediately to check him out. And make sure you blast your A/C on the car ride there!
Factors that increase risk of heat illness in dogs
Some individual dogs are more vulnerable to heat-related illnesses because of their physical traits or the physical condition they’re in (or a combination of both).
Things that predispose your pet to heat exhaustion and/or heat stroke include:
- Underlying medical conditions (like cardiac disease)
- Brachycephalic breeds (aka dogs with short snouts — like pugs)
- Strenuous exercise in hot conditions
- Lack of access to shade
- Lack of access to water
- Poor ventilation
But any dog is susceptible, so you should always be prepared.
How to avoid heat illnesses in dogs
Here are some tips from Dr. Squallice on how to prevent your dog from getting too hot.
- Walk your dog in the early morning or later in the evening.
- Avoid excessive play and exercise on hot days.
- Keep him in the shade.
- Provide adequate water.
- Keep him in air-conditioned, well-ventilated rooms in your house.
- Never leave your dog in a car.
Dogs left in cars are a super common cause of heat stroke in pups, since cars can reach dangerously high temperatures in only a few minutes — even if it feels really cool outside. So a trip to the convenience store with your dog left in the car can turn into an emergency situation really quickly.
So, just to be safe, never leave your dog in your vehicle by himself for any reason.
Keeping your dog cool on walks
Your dog still needs to go on walks to use the bathroom outside, even when it’s hot.
So if you need to go outside with your dog, it’s recommended to avoid walking your dog during the hottest times of day (around noon to 4 p.m.).
If it’s still hot out when you walk your dog, there are some products that might make the walk a lot safer.
A dog cooling vest can help maintain your dog’s normal body temperature while out on walks.
Pavement can get even hotter than the temperature outside, so you’ll want to make sure your dog’s paws are protected.
Making sure your dog has access to water on his walks is super important, so consider bringing a dog water bottle with you next time.
If your dog takes a while to cool off after his walk, he might like to chill out on a dog cooling mat.
The bottom line is, if you have to ask the question, “Is it too hot for my dog?” then it probably is — so keep outside trips short, avoid the hottest times of the day and try out some cooling products. Your dog will definitely thank you!
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