Taking Care Of Dogs In Hot Weather – Summer Dog Safety Tips

Updated: May 7th, 2021

hot weather safety tips for dogs

Summertime is just around the corner and with it come long, sunny days and clear blue skies. But while most people love summer months, surviving hot summer days can be very challenging for dogs and their owners. To help you make the most of this summer, I’ll share my favorite hot weather safety tips for dogs.

Long walks, fun by the pool, or chilling at a barbecue—these are all fun summer activities and great opportunities to spend quality time with your dog. But remember, just because you’re able to withstand the heat and glare from the sun, doesn’t mean your canine companion can, too!

Serious conditions such as dehydration, overheating, and sunburns can strike easily and put your dog’s well-being at risk. Heatstroke is particularly dangerous since it can cause organ damage and even prove fatal if not treated in time.

Keep on reading to discover great heat tips for dogs that will help you and your pooch survive and thrive happily in the hot weather and those dog days of summer.

Hot Weather Dog Safety Tips

We all enjoy spending warm summer days outside playing and basking in the sun with our four-legged best friends. However, being overly enthusiastic in hot weather can put your dog’s health and well-being at risk.

Spending too much time in the heat can cause dehydration, overheating, and heatstroke even in the healthiest of dogs! If not treated in time, heatstroke can be fatal; thus, do everything you can to prevent your dog from overheating.

Check out the best tips for dogs in hot weather that will help you keep your pup safe on a warm day!

1. Know The Signs Of Overheating In Dogs

Know The Signs Of Overheating In DogsThe number one thing to look out for in your dog during hot weather is overheating.

Heavy breathing, panting, increased heart rate, increased salivation, and drooling are all indicators of overheating. More serious symptoms of overheating include physical weakness, stupor, and collapse.

Severe overheating—when their body hits over 104° F—can even cause seizures, bloody diarrhea, and vomiting. Use a thermometer to measure your dog’s body temperature and call your vet right away if you suspect heat stroke.

While even the healthiest of dogs can overheat, heat exposure can prove particularly problematic in older or overweight dogs, as well as those with heart or lung disease. If your dog falls into one of these categories, take extra special care during warm summer days.

Furthermore, dogs with flat faces, such as pugs, boxers, bulldogs, and shih tzus, are more susceptible to overheating and heat stroke since they can’t pant properly. Short-nosed breeds along with elderly, obese, and sick dogs should be kept cool in air-conditioned rooms during the hottest period of the day.

Believe it or not, some dogs can even get sunburns when spending too much time in the sun. You can easily spot sunburns on your dog; their skin will become red and flaky, and hot to the touch. The best way to relieve the burn is to take your dog out of the sun and apply a cool compress to the affected area.

Just like humans, dogs are susceptible to skin cancers and tumors, so do your best to limit direct sun exposure. To prevent these issues, you should put sunscreen on your dog. Dogs with light skin and white coats shouldn’t go outside without wearing sunscreen on the nose, ears, and tummy.

2. Take Your Dog For A Checkup

It’s likely that your dog will be spending more time outside during the summer months, so make sure they’re well prepared and in great health. The best way to do this is to take your pooch to the vet for a spring/summer check-up.

If your pup isn’t on a year-round heartworm preventative medicine get them tested for heartworms. Heartworm is spread by mosquito bites and is a potentially fatal condition if not diagnosed and treated in time. Since mosquitos are on the prowl during spring and summer, ask your vet to prescribe you a regular heartworm preventative medication.

Spending more time outdoors also puts your pooch at a higher risk for coming into contact with fleas and ticks. While not extremely dangerous, fleas can make your dog’s life a living hell and cause issues like excessive itching, scratching, and hair loss.

While less of a nuisance than fleas, ticks are more dangerous and can infect your dog with serious illnesses like Lyme disease, Babesiosis, or Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Luckily, using a good flea and tick preventative can help you avoid all of these issues and keep your dog safe.

There are many highly effective flea and tick products on the market, and your vet can help you decide which will work best for your pooch. Whether you decide to get a dog flea collar, spot-on treatment, or flea pills, do so before summer hits to keep your pooch safe.

Your pup will likely be exposed to more creepy crawlers than normal if you’re spending more time outside walking or near water, so use a preventative treatment.

3. Get A Haircut – If Appropriate

Many owners think that shaving will help keep their dogs cool during summer, but this isn’t really the case. Whether or not your dog can benefit from a new haircut depends solely on the type of coat they have.

Short haired, single-coated breeds such as bulldogs and terriers tolerate hot weather better than double-coated breeds. If you have a long-haired, single-coated dog, a haircut before the hot weather hits is sure to benefit them as they’ll have less insulation to carry about with them.

Perhaps surprisingly, double-coated dogs such as golden retrievers and Labradors should not have their coats shaved. The double coat naturally works to keep them cool, and shaving it off can make your dog more likely to overheat and get sunburns. Please do your research before ever shaving your dog, as some will be worse off if you do.

If you do give your pooch a haircut, (if a suitable breed!), please keep in mind that trimming the coat too much can make your dog more likely to suffer from sunburns. The best length to go for is at least an inch long so there is still some hair protection against the sun’s beating rays.

If you are concerned about sunburns, there are plenty of sunscreens made specifically for dogs. To keep your dog protected, aim for an SPF of at least 30.

4. Be Mindful About Hot-Weather Exercise And Play

Be Mindful About Hot-Weather Exercise And PlayBesides helping your dog release pent-up energy, regular exercise can also improve their health and keep them in good shape. However, you should take care when exercising your dog on hot days and limit their activities to cooler early morning or evening hours.

Vigorous activities outside in the sun can put your dog at risk of overheating and heat stroke, even if they are in excellent shape. Keep your pets cool by installing sprinklers in your backyard and letting them run through them and play in the water.

Avoid exercising and playing with your dog on hot asphalt, pavement, or sand. When too hot, these surfaces can be painful for your dog to walk on and can even injure their paws. Wearing the best dog booties can keep your pup’s paws protected from the heat and prevent painful blisters and burns.

At A Glance: Best Selling Summer Accessories For Golden Retrievers We Recommend:

Make Sure Their Environment Is Right

It’s easy for dogs to suffer in hot weather whether inside or out, so make sure you’re well prepared for the heat regardless of your environment. Here are a few tips for taking care of dogs in hot weather wherever you are:

Inside

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that your dog won’t be affected by the heat just because they’re indoors. Homes can become very hot during the summer, especially if you have a lot of windows or a south-facing home.

Ensure your dog is kept cool with air-conditioning or a fan, and make sure they have access to plenty of fresh water all day. Please note, a deep bowl of cool water will stay fresh longer than water in a shallow bowl. If you have to leave your pooch at home alone, adding ice to their water bowl can keep the water cool for longer.

No matter what, never ever leave your pet alone in a locked vehicle! Even if you leave the windows cracked, the temperature inside the car can rise over 100 degrees Fahrenheit in a matter of minutes. It can take just minutes for a dog or cat to develop heat stroke and suffocate inside the locked car.

Leaving pets inside parked cars is illegal in several states across the US and for good reason! If you can’t take your pooch with you at each destination while you are running errands, it’s better not to bring them with you in the first place. Your pooch will be safe and more comfortable staying at home than they will waiting in a car, risking being cooked alive!

Outside

If you decide to take your dog outdoors in hot weather, make sure there is plenty of shade where you’re going. This way, you can both take regular cover from the sun’s burning rays and prevent dehydration and heat stroke.

Again, you need to ensure that your dog has a steady supply of fresh and cool water  they can drink at all times. Also, don’t over-exert your dog with training, playing, or exercise. Otherwise, they could face dehydration.

Bear in mind that the hottest period of the day is between 11am and 2pm and try to avoid taking your dog outside during these hours, if at all possible. And if you really have to go out, instead of walking your dog in direct sunlight, stick to shaded and grassy areas.

When you’re walking your dog around the streets, try to choose routes that avoid walking on asphalt as much as possible.  

Asphalt and pavement can get really hot under the sun and have the potential to burn sensitive paw pads. Furthermore, all that heat radiating from the tarmac can put your dog at risk of overheating since their body is much closer to the ground.

The general rule of thumb is: Place the back of your hand onto the tarmac, and if you can’t hold it there for 10 seconds, it’s also too hot for your dog’s paws.

Around Water

When the weather becomes hot, many dog owners are tempted to take their furry friends to the nearest body of water for a pleasant, cooling swim. For this reason, accidents and deaths around water rise when the weather really warms up.

While most dogs love to swim, it’s not necessarily a given that your dog will, too, and they should never be left unsupervised around water.

Introduce them to water gradually and arrange for them to wear a flotation device to give you both some peace of mind.

Before letting your pup into the water, remove any collar they are wearing as it could get snagged on underwater objects, putting your dog at risk of drowning.

Finally, avoid any water with even the slightest of currents. Seek out still lakes and ponds if you can, or very gently flowing streams at  most. The last thing you want to see is your dog being carried away in deeper waters by strong currents.

What To Avoid In The Heat

While you’ll be working hard all year round to keep your dog safe, with hot weather comes a new set of challenges and potential hazards to their health and happiness.

Keep a lookout for the following:

Chemicals

If you decide to take your dog swimming in a pool, make sure they don’t drink the pool water as it will probably contain a high level of chemicals, including chlorine, as part of its filtration system, which may upset your dog’s stomach.

The only thing you can do is to offer your pooch drinking water before they go for a dip, in the hope they will quench their thirst before getting in the pool. Don’t forget to rinse your dog after swimming, to remove all the chlorine or salt from their coat.

You should also keep them as far away as possible from pesticides, insecticides, rodenticides, and items like citronella candles. All of these can be harmful to your dog if ingested and are often used in gardens to keep pests at bay during spring and summer.

Flea and tick preventatives too can occasionally be harmful if ingested, so make sure to keep them well out of your dog’s reach. If you suspect that your pooch has ingested something they should not have, call your veterinarian right away or go straight to the emergency vet clinic.

Furthermore, if you use any products on your dog like sunscreen or insect repellent, make sure they are suitable and safe for dogs. Canine skin is much more sensitive than human skin, and any harsh chemicals used in human skin creams can cause an allergic reaction and skin and hair problems in dogs.

Human Food

It’s tempting to let your pup eat ‘human’ food when you take them along to a barbecue or outdoor party in the summer. There’s also a chance that other party-goers may try to sneak a bite or two to your pooch while you aren’t looking.

However, certain human foods can be toxic for dogs, even when consumed in small amounts. Fatty foods for example can cause severe digestive problems or even pancreatitis in dogs and should be avoided at all costs. Any treats given as rewards for good behavior should be specifically made for dogs!

It’s worth doing some reading on the human foods that dogs cannot eat, so you know what to avoid and why.

It’s needless to say, but I’ll do it anyway: Don’t let your dog drink any alcohol! Alcoholic beverages are extremely toxic to dogs and can cause intoxication, depression, seizures, lethargy, and even death.

Balconies

Is there anything better than sitting out on a balcony in the hot weather and enjoying a cold beer?

While it’s easy and fun for us humans to let our hair down in the summer, we have to be careful that our pets don’t fall victim to any drop in safety standards.

During the summer months, there is an increase in the number of pets injured or even killed by falling from high-rise balconies, rooftops, or apartment windows.

If you live off the ground floor, keep all windows and doors closed and tightly secure any screens and safety barriers to ensure your dog’s safety inside your home.

Fireworks

Fireworks are a standard feature of any Fourth of July party celebrations. But although we humans love them, most dogs are terrified of fireworks.

Aside from scaring them with the loud, unexpected noises and blasts of bright light, the fireworks themselves can put your dog in real danger.

Burns from lit and even used fireworks can occur, especially if your dog is frightened by the loud bangs and scampers away for safety.

Additionally, the heavy chemical and toxic makeup of most fireworks certainly isn’t safe for dogs to inhale and can cause breathing difficulties. Some types of fireworks contain chemicals that are toxic to pets, such as arsenic, heavy metals, chlorates, and potassium nitrate.

Instead of taking your pooch with you for a Fourth of July celebration, leave them inside your home where they will be safe from all the noise and commotion!

Video: How To Protect Your Pet From Summer Heat!

In this video from DNews.com, Tara breaks down a few useful tips to make sure that your pet is safe during hot weather!

FAQs About Taking Care Of Dogs In Hot Weather

What Temperature Is Too Hot For A Dog?

Generally speaking, 90˚F is the highest temperature most dogs can bear provided they have plenty of water, shade, and air circulation. However, there are no set rules when it comes to dogs and temperature limits. To be on the safe side, watch your dog for signs of a heat stroke when it’s above 90˚F and consider bringing them inside the house to cool down.

What Do I Do With My Dog When It’s Hot Outside?

If possible, keep your dog indoors in an air-conditioned room when the weather is too hot. You can also offer your dog a wet towel to lay on and rub their body with an ice pack or a damp towel to help them cool down. If your pup is outside in the backyard, add ice cubes to their water bowl and use a tarp to provide access to shade.

How Do I Know If It’s Too Hot To Walk My Dog?

To learn whether or not it’s too hot to walk your dog, place your palm on the pavement and hold it there for 10 seconds. If the pavement is too hot for your hand, you can bet that it’s also too hot for your dog to walk on. Generally speaking, temperatures of up to 68˚F are safe to take a dog of any size or breed out for a walk.

How Do I Know If My Dog Is Too Hot?

Excessive panting, drooling, bright red gums, rapid or irregular pulse, seizures, and collapse are the most common signs of overheating in dogs. Heat exhaustion is a serious issue that can lead to heat stroke and cardiac arrest if not diagnosed and treated in time. Luckily, overheating is easy to spot and you should have enough time to help your pup and cool them down.

Conclusion

While most people love summer months, sunny days and hot weather can be extremely uncomfortable for our canine companions. Dogs have a harder time coping with high temperatures and are at a higher risk of overheating and heat stroke than people.

Keeping dogs safe during hot summer months can be challenging to say the least! You may think that shaving is the best way to keep your dog cool and to avoid overheating, but that’s not true. In fact, shaving your dog’s coat puts them at a higher risk of overheating and more likely to experience sunburns.

To help you avoid these issues and keep your pup healthy this summer, I have shared my go-to hot weather safety tips for dogs. Make sure your dog always has access to fresh and clean water, and don’t take them out during the warmest part of the day. And no matter what, don’t leave your dog alone inside a car, even if it’s just for a few minutes!

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