Record Hot Weather Doesn’t Mean Dogs Have to Suffer


You can’t exactly control the weather or literally beat the heat, but you can insure your dog is safe in hot weather. Here are 8 tips:

  • Dogs they aren’t as capable at self-regulating their body temperatures as we humans. Panting – how dogs cool themselves – isn’t a particularly efficient way to keep cool. Sweating, which is – of course – is what we do and works much better. Dogs do sweat some from their paw pads, and if you note little footprints it means your pup is either really hot or really nervous or both. Many dogs – especially large dogs – do better in the winter, as they are always wearing a winter coat. However, they can’t remove that coat in the summer. The bottom line is if you are hot, your dog (especially if it is a larger dog or a brachycephalic breed) is even more hot.
  • Brachycephalic breeds – those are dogs with “pushed in faces” and limited airways also have a limited ability to keep cool. So for the Boston Terrier, Boxer, Bulldog, Chow Chow, French Bulldog, Japanese Chin, Pekingese the Pug, some dogs referred to as pit bulls and others, a 75 degree day that feels comfortable for us, may be stifling for them. Imagine what it feels like to these dogs when it’s over 90 degrees. It literally may be hard to breath. And these dogs, in particular, are prone to heat stroke. Even a two-block walk at 90 degrees of sunshine and high enough humidity can be grueling. Bring water on any walk if the temperature is even 80. While this is all true, according to a recent study it’s more active dogs who are more likely to have heat stroke because Golden and Labrador retrievers will continue to run and chase the ball even if they are over-heating.
  • Just as we are spoiled by air conditioning, so are our dogs. They may not be as acclimated to extreme temperatures as our great granddaddy’s dogs were. It’s unfair to expect dogs to sit in a backyard when it’s 90 degrees out if they are not accustomed to those temperatures. And, if for any length of time a dog is forced to hang out in the yard without shade and water is downright inhumane and potentially dangerous, and may even be considered animal abuse.
  • Of course, for your comfort as well as your dog’s, walks and definitely runs should be early in the morning or after sunset. Be sure to bring water.
  • Just as swimming pools are appealing to us when it’s really hot outside, the same is true for dogs. Do consider that Pugs, Bulldogs, Pekingese and others are likely to sink like a rock should they jump or fall in. Lifevests for dogs might be a lifesaver, and so is adult supervision. Even the Michael Phelps of the dog world, like Labradors or Newfoundlands, can’t swim forever. Insure they have an easy route to get out of a pool. Beware of the dangers of blue green algae in lakes, ponds and rivers.
  • One totally safe way for dogs to keep cool are kiddie pools filled with about 8-inches of water. No dog can drown, yet they can lie down if they want or splash about. Periodically add some ice to keep the water cool. (However, really cold ice water is a bad idea.)
  • When it’s 85 degrees and sunny, midday asphalt can exceed 150 degrees.  Of course, given a choice dogs will avoid walking on a surface that hot. However, being a leash, we don’t always give them a choice. If you can’t keep your hand, palm-down, on the asphalt for around three minutes, it’s too hot. When dogs “dance” on hot asphalt, it’s not to entertain us – they can burn paw pads. Sometimes minor burns can’t be easily seen by non-professionals.
  • People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals notes since 2019 at least 70 animals have died in a hot car. No doubt that number is likely higher, as not all instances are reported. On a 90-degree day, a car will heat up to well over 100 degrees in 10 minutes, even with windows open a crack. That’s a death sentence. Even at 80 degrees out, hitting 100 only takes 15 minutes. It’s not a myth – dogs do die in hot cars, and it continues to happen far too often. I leaned what it feels like to be a dog in a hot car.

Your dog is safe in hot weather – that is the goal.

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Steve Dale is a certified animal behavior specialist who has been a trusted voice in the world of pet health for over 20 years. You have likely heard him on the radio, read him in print and online, and seen him speaking at events all over the world. His contributions to advancing pet wellness have earned him many an award and recognition around the globe.

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