Is it Safe to Walk a Dog in Hot Weather?

There is nothing better than walking your dog on a warm sunny day, but sometimes it can get too hot for our canine companions. You may be wondering if it is safe to walk a dog in hot weather, and today we are going to be answering that question for you.

Ignoring hot weather or hot surfaces such as tarmac can be incredibly harmful to both dogs and humans alike. If your dog is inhaling hot air, then their panting can have little cooling effect and they will rapidly overheat.

While you can’t change the weather, there are things you can change that make both you and your dog’s walks more comfortable. Read on to find out more!

So, Can I Take My Dog for Walks in Hot Weather?

Now, let’s get to the main question “Can you take a dog for walks in hot weather?”. The answer is yes, but you there are some things that you need to watch out for. Let’s check them out below.

The Physical Traits of Your Dog

Some canines are more than happy in hot weather, while others struggle through the summer season. We have listed some of the things below that may affect the way your canine companion handles hot weather during a walk.

Breed and Coat Type

Your dog’s breed and type of coat will have an enormous effect on how they handle heat during a walk. Dogs with longer, thicker coats tend to feel the effects of hot weather more than those with short, thin coats.

Coat Colour

Another trait that can affect the way your dog handles heat during a walk is the colour of their coat. Darker colours tend to absorb more heat than lighter colours, so if your dog has a black or dark coat they will absorb more of the sun’s rays.

Age and Health Condition

The age and health condition of your dog has a massive impact on how they handle hot temperatures during summer walks. Puppies and older dogs are not as efficient at regulating their body temperature when compared to healthy dogs that are in their prime years. If your dog is still a puppy, is old or sick, be more cautious about when you take them for a walk.

Heat stroke is much more likely to occur in dogs that are old or those that have health problems. If your dog starts to show the signs of heat stroke it is important that you try and treat the problem as soon as possible, as the condition can cause permanent damage and possibly even death.

Your Dog’s Tolerance to Heat

Dogs that have grown up and built a tolerance to warm temperatures will feel more comfortable during hot weather walks. If your canine companion has only ever experienced mild temperatures, they will struggle more on hot walks.

The Weather Itself

How hot is hot weather? That depends on where you are and who you are. Some people think that it is hot when it is 25 degrees Celsius (77 Fahrenheit), while others wouldn’t bat an eyelid until it gets to 35 degrees Celsius (95 Fahrenheit).

Your dog will also have their own idea of what hot is too them, so you need to be mindful of that. While you may find the temperature perfectly acceptable, your canine companion may be struggling in the heat. You need to find a time that works for both you and your dog.

What is the Best Time to Take a Dog out for a Walk in Hot Weather?

Going out for a walk in the middle of the day when the sun is at its highest and the temperature is at its warmest is a recipe for disaster. While it depends on where you live in the world, you should avoid taking your dog out for a walk between the times of 11am to around 3pm. If you live in a country with longer days, you may want to extend this period of no walking.

In some extremely hot places (or if the weather is much hotter than usual), we recommend taking your dog out early in the morning or late a night when the sun has gone down.

Watch Out for Hot Asphalt

One of the biggest areas of concern when walking a dog in hot weather is the asphalt or tarmac. Footpaths, roads and driveways can get extremely hot when the sun is at its brightest. This can lead to burnt paws, a major problem for our canine companions.

To check the temperature of the asphalt, touch the back of your hand directly onto it. Hold your hand in that position for about 10 seconds. If you can do that without getting too uncomfortable you should be okay to take your dog for walk. On the other hand, if you find that the tarmac is too hot for your hand it will definitely be too hot for your dog’s paws.

What are the Signs of Burnt Paws?

If you have been walking your dog on hot pavement, look for the following signs to see if your dog has burnt paws:

  • Limping or attempting to walk slowly
  • Licking or chewing of the paws
  • Darkening of the skin around the paws
  • Any blisters, peeling or redness
  • Any other damage to their paws
  • Excessive amounts of heat coming of their paws (when you touch them)
What You Should Do if Your Dog’s Paws Get Burnt

If you notice that your dog’s paws are burnt or that they are in the process of getting burnt, it is important to get your dog to a cool place as soon as possible. In some circumstances you may need to even carry your dog to stop any further damage being done.

Once you have removed them from the hot environment you should run their paws under cool water or use a cold press. However, don’t use ice water as this can make the problem worse. Just use regular tap water. Additionally, do not let your dog lick or chew the pads of their paws.

If you suspect that your dog has burns on their paws, we recommend that you get them to the vets as soon as possible. Burns can become infected if left untreated and they can lead to even more serious issues down the track.

Other Things You Can Do During Hot Weather

Look for Other Places to Go for Walks

While it is important to avoid hot pavement, it is also important to take your dog out for regular walks. If you can only take your dog out during the middle of the day you should try and find a cool place to walk them. Grassy parks with running water are a great place to take your dog for a walk when it is cold, just watch out for the hot tarmac in the carpark or on footpaths.

Try Some Dog Booties

Dog shoes can protect your canine’s paws during walks on hot surfaces. They are also great if you ever have to take your dog anywhere where there are sharp surfaces that could damage their paws. If you have to walk your dog during the hotter parts of the day, we definitely recommend trying them out.

However, while dog booties are great at protecting your pup’s paws, many dogs will find them uncomfortable. Trying to get the booties on can be a real pain, so your mileage may vary with this solution.

If you are looking for some dog shoes, we recommend having a look at My Busy Dog’s Water Resistant Shoes.

Groom Your Dog

Regular grooming can help to keep your dog cool and comfortable when temperatures rise. While you may think grooming is only for long haired dogs, it can also work wonders for short haired canines as well.

However, don’t cut your dog’s coat too short as it can actually have the opposite effect. The reason for this is because a dog’s coat offers protection against the sun and acts as cooling insulation. Removing too much of the coat will leave them exposed to the sun and unprotected.

Unless you are very experienced grooming dogs, we recommend that you take your pup to a professional groomer. This way they can trim your dog’s coat to the correct length.

Use Paw Protection Wax

While we have never personally used paw protection wax, lots of people recommend it. Paw protection wax like the one from Musher’s Secret is an excellent way to protect your pup’s paws from sand, hot pavements, ice and salt.

The wax not only protects your dog’s paws but also moisturises them and helps heal wounds, along with keeping the paws healthy. Apply the wax before you go out for a walk and it should help keep your dog’s paws protected.

What Should I Bring on Hot Weather Walks?

If you are just going for a short walk around the block, we wouldn’t bring anything extra. For those going a bit further, you should bring some extra supplies just in case you or your dog gets too hot.

As dogs can easily become dehydrated in hot weather you should bring some extra water and a foldable water bowl with you during long walks. Dogs are resilient animals and will keep on walking even when they are severely dehydrated and overdoing it. Giving them a drink regularly and walking in the shade should help to prevent dehydration.

What About Dog Sunscreen?

Us humans are always told to apply sunscreen before heading out in the sun, but what about dogs. While you may think dog sunscreen is a bit of a waste of time, it can help protect your dog from the suns damaging rays.

Dogs that have pale skin or fur are more likely to get sunburnt than those with darker skin and fur. Additionally, areas where the is skin showing are much more susceptible to sunburn.

We recommend this one from Epi-Pet.

Other Things to Bring

Along with the above, we recommend that you bring a towel. A wet towel is an excellent way to cool your dog down if they are getting too hot. If you also have some dog sunblock and a pair of protective dog shoes we recommend that you bring these as well.

Heat Stroke During Walks

Signs of Heat Stroke in Dogs?

Dog fur is excellent at keeping your dog warm when it is cold but can cause problems when the temperature gets too high. This is because, unlike humans, dogs shed excess heat by panting (they also have some sweat glands in their paws that remove a bit of heat as well). While panting is usually very effective, it sometimes isn’t enough.

This can lead to overheating, which can be a serious issue if it is not attended to quickly enough. If you notice that your dog is getting too hot you need to cool them down as soon as possible.

Heat stroke is a form of non-fever hyperthermia that occurs when a dog’s heat-dissipating mechanisms cannot accommodate excessive external heat. It is typically associated with a temperature of 41 degrees Celsius or higher and can lead to multiple organ dysfunction.

If your dog is suffering from heat stroke, you need to watch for the following signs:

  • Excessive panting
  • Dehydration
  • Signs of discomfort or distress
  • Hyper-salivation and vomiting
  • Laboured breathing, Weakness or collapse
  • Tongue colour that is dark red to almost purple
  • Irregular heart beat
  • Increased body temperature – above 103° F (39° C)
  • Reddened gums and moist tissues of the body
  • Production of only small amounts of urine or no urine
  • Vomiting blood
  • Seizures and muscle tremors
  • Wobbly, uncoordinated or drunken gait or movement (ataxia)
  • Unconsciousness in which the dog cannot be stimulated to be awakened

What Are the Causes of Heat Stroke?

There are a number of causes of heat stroke in dogs, including overheating. We have listed some of them below:

  • Excessive heat and humidity from either weather conditions or being enclosed in an unventilated environment (car, room, etc.)
  • Excessive exercise
  • Poisoning from various compounds such as slug and snail bait, and strychnine. These poisonous compounds can lead to seizures which can cause your dog’s body temperature to rise abnormally.
  • Diseases that increase the change of developing hypothermia; such as heart disease, larynx, paralysis of the voice box and muscular related disease
  • Upper airway diseases that inhibit breathing.

What to Do if Your Dog is Suffering from Heat Stroke

It is incredibly important that you act as quickly as possible if your dog is suffering from this condition. You need to recognise the signs and the causes of the issue, whether that is too much heat or some other issue. The first step you need to take is to reduce your dog’s body temperature as soon as possible.

If you are out on a walk and you suspect that your dog is suffering from heat stroke, look for places to cool them down. Try to find some water like a stream, river or lake where you can immerse their body. Additionally, if there is a drinking fountain or tap nearby you can splash some water over you do to cool them down.

Another great way to cool a dog down suffering from heatstroke is to cover them in a wet towel. This will quickly and safely reduce their body temperature.

It is important to only use cool water, not iced or very cold water. While you may think that using very cold water is better, it can actually make the cooling process more challenging for your dog. This is because cold water can cause blood vessels near the surface of the body to constrict. Gradually reducing your dog’s temperature is much better than trying to do it suddenly. This also goes for drinking water as well.

Once your dog’s temperature has been reduced sufficiently, you should take them to the vets as soon as possible. Your vet can examine your dog and ensure that their normal body temperature has been reached, and that no permanent damage has been done.

How to Prevent Heat Stroke from Occurring on Walks

As we wrote earlier in this article, the best way to prevent heat related problems from occurring on walks is to take your dog out during a cooler time of the day. However, there are times when things are completely out of your control. If this is the case, there are some things you can do to make the likelihood of heatstroke occurring much less likely. Check them out below:

Keep your dog hydrated throughout the day – Giving your dog access to fresh cool water at all times during the day will help prevent heat related problems from occurring during walks.

Keep them out of the sun – If your dog has been sitting in the sun all day and then goes for a walk, they will be much more likely to overheat. Try to keep them in a cool environment out of the sun both at home and when they go out for walks.

Cool them down with water – If it is really hot you can try and get your dog in some water. Put a wet towel over them before a walk or purchase a paddling pool that they can play in. If you live near a lake, stream or river you can also start the walk off with a swim.

Make some cold treats – Another great way to cool your dog down before a walk is to give them some cool treats. Flavoured or plain ice cubes are an excellent way to cool your dog down. We love to give our dog’s ice cubes with peas or carrot in them. However, if your dog is suffering from heat stroke do not give them ice cubes. You can read more about giving your dog ice cubes at PetMD.

Wrapping Up Can I Take My Dog for Walks in Hot Weather

The simple answer is yes, you can take your dog for walks when it is hot, but you need to avoid the hottest parts of the day. You need to be able to recognise the signs of an overheating dog and watch out for burnt paws. Always check the temperature of any surfaces you and your dog walk on before going out.

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