Just like cold weather, hot weather dogs prove to be a tricky combinations sometimes. Here in this article we’ve tried to cover everything you need to know about dealing with hot weather as a dog owner or prospective dog owner and some tips on stuff you can buy and do to make things easier for both you and your furry friend.
Should dogs be outside when the weather is hot?
- Should dogs be outside when the weather is hot?
- Why is heat so bad for dogs?
- When not to take dogs outside when it’s hot
- How to cool a dog off
This is one of the most common questions we get asked here at JugDog, especially as spring starts and summer approaches along with “should I walk my dog in hot weather?”. Should dogs even be outside if it’s hot? The shortest answer we’ve got is that its perfectly fine to have dogs outside, whether it’s in the garden or on a walk, when the weather is hot, as long as the right conditions are met and you cater for your dog and not for the weather. This seems very confusing so we’re going to break it down to make it easier to digest.
Why is heat so bad for dogs?
Dogs are a completely different species to us and just because they seem to enjoy being outside like us it doesn’t mean they should be there all day and especially when it’s too hot (see our temperature chart). But the question is, why is it that dogs should avoid heat? The answer to that question lies in their ability to dissipate heat and cool themselves off.
A dog’s biggest enemy on a sweltering day is heatstroke which they could suffer in a matter of minutes if they are caught in a very hot place – think being stuck in cars on a hot day and why there’s such an uproar when people see a poor dog trapped in one without open windows.
Heatstroke is a serious condition and one which is often untreatable for a dog as soon as its happened. Many say once heatstroke is apparent, the damage has been done. Such is the seriousness of making sure your dog never gets too hot. Luckily this whole page is here to help you avoid such a nasty surprise.
Symtoms of heat stroke include
- High body temperature
- Excessive panting
- Uncharacteristic behaviour
If you suspect heat-stroke in your hound then take them to somewhere cooler immediately, wet their coat with cold water and call your vet immediately. Time is of the essence with heatstroke and absolutely no time should be wasted.
Dogs don’t sweat all over
Dogs can only sweat through areas not covered by fur – think paw pads, belly and nose. That’s not a lot of area they sweat with which means that dogs have to pant to let more heat to leave their bodies. In short, dogs ability to get rid of heat is not good. They know this which is why they wouldn’t naturally spend a lot of time in the heat and generally it’s only with human intervention that they could be in trouble on a hot day.
When not to take dogs outside when it’s hot
Let’s start by making things easier – is there a time when dogs should not be taken outside? Yes, there most definitely is. First thing to check is how does your dog normally handle the heat? Are they overweight, particularly full of fur and generally struggle to lose the heat? Here’s a quick list of things to look out for in dogs who may struggle with the heat:
When your puppies are younger than 6 months old
Puppies and adolescent dogs have not matured enough to be as efficient as they could be to dissipate heat and be sensible enough to detect when they’re about to overheat. We recommend limiting hot temperature exposure to young dogs until at least 6 months.
When your dog is sick
It seems too obvious to mention it but we have to do our duty to all our doggy friends out there. Never, ever take a poorly dog out in hot weather. They’re immune system is compromised and many sicknesses can bring on heatstroke quicker due to dehydration. If your dog is ill or on medication (antibiotics, pain killers) then let them out briefly for their business but otherwise keep them in a cool area while they recover.
When you have obese dogs
Obese and overweight dogs will be much more uncomfortable with the heat than fit and healthy dogs, naturally. Obese pooches have a plethora of problems when dealing with the heat such as increased mass, weaker heart, compromised cardiovascular system. If it’s particularly hot then take caution with fat dogs, once the weather is a bit better make sure to exercise your dog more and improve the dog’s diet as obesity is a problem hot weather or not.
When you have dogs with breathing problems
Most dogs can breathe fine but some, especially brachycephalic dogs, have problems breathing in certain conditions – hot weather included. A brachycephalic dog is characterised by short, wide heads, or smushed-faced dogs – think pugs (or crossbreeds of pugs such as jugs), bulldogs and Boston terriers. Dogs with this sort of breathing problems are at a much higher risk of problems in the heat than dogs without. They are certainly not hot weather dogs by any means.
In short, brachycephalic dogs will struggle to breathe in the extreme heat and if it get bad enough could suffocate. This isn’t us saying they shouldn’t be out on a sunny day though, just not for too long and not when it’s too hot and definitely not stuck inside a car or a room in the house with poor ventilation.
When you have dogs with long, thick coats
Dogs built for winter can sometimes come a cropper in hot weather as their long, thick coats hold on to the heat making them overheat easier. If you have one of these dogs then your first port of call is to cut their hair or malt them when possible, otherwise keep hot weather activity to a minimum.
At the hottest part of the day
Avoiding the hottest parts of the day for your outdoor activity can help reduce most problems with overheating try to avoid peak sunshine hours between 12-4. Early morning and early evening are the best times – there should be plenty of light as well with it being spring and summer.
When you have to go via car
We recommend avoiding car trips altogether with your dog on a hot day. Dogs die in hot cars and even when you leave the window open it is still much hotter in there than it is outside. Please, only take your dog out in the car if it’s important and make sure the ventilation is good or the A/C on. Avoid just leaving them in a stationary car at all costs.
How to cool a dog off
As we’ve previously mentioned – we aren’t saying to avoid a nice sunny day at all, in fact we encourage the great outdoors as it’s good for bonding and great exercise (see our best dog trackers if it’s a big trip). However, we’ve thought it would best to list some tips on how to keep your dog cool on a hot day in general. With these tips you can prolong the time you can spend outside and that everyone involved, especially your hot weather dog, are playing in the glorious weather safely!
- Offer access to water at all times
Your dog should have access to fresh water at all times in hot wether. When outside on a walk take a portable water bowl with you. You can even throw in some ice cubes to make it extra cold.
- Offer an area with shade
Your home should have plenty of this but if you’re outside make sure to make regular pit stops in shady areas to cool off
- Avoid walking on hot surfaces such as pavements
Some floors hold on too heat more than others, if you’re at home then floors such as tiles and laminate can be cool, on the outside avoid prolonged exposure to surfaces such as pavements
- Rest easy
Keep activity to a minimum and if there is any activity make sure it’s not strenuous like non-stop running.
Also read: Why do dogs smell when they’ve been outside
Ronnie is the JugDog site editor and a dog expert who has lived and worked with dogs his entire life. Living in St. Helens, UK with his wife son and Jug Dog Jeff Ronnie spends most of time researching the answers to the burning questions of the dog community as well as reviewing the latest and greatest dog products.
Last update on 2020-07-11 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API