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When is it Too Hot to Walk a Dog?

Updated: Jul 9

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Worryingly, heat stroke in dogs can be fatal in as little as 15 minutes. So don’t take the risk and make sure you know how to prevent your dog from overheating this summer.


Although dogs can sweat through their paw pads, they're unable to sweat through their skin to cool themselves down. Instead, they breathe rapidly (pant) to push warm air out of the body and replace it with cooler air from outside.


Unfortunately for our four-legged friends, this isn't a particularly efficient cooling method, so heat stroke is a very real threat during the summer months.


Terrier dog walking on the sand in the summer

When is it too Hot to Walk my Dog ?


Ok, so most of us know not to walk dogs when it's too hot, but what exactly is too hot ?


It's generally considered that for most dogs, under 20C, is an ideal temperature range for walking or hiking. The truth is, that surprisingly for some dogs, anything hotter than 20C can cause heat stroke.


Those at particular risk are flat faced breeds, obese dogs and puppies. Flat faced breeds have short snouts and a poor panting ability. They struggle to breath and pant efficiently in the heat, this results in less efficient cooling and breathlessness. So if you have a Pug, Bulldog or Boston Terrier be extra careful when the temperature gauge rises.

Infographic outlining temperatures and heat stroke in dogs
image:vetsnow.com


How to Check if it's Too Hot to Walk your Dog


Other than watching the weather forecast or checking the app on our phone, most of us are guessing the temperature each day, so is there a simple and efficient way to determine whether it's safe to walk our dogs?


It's not just the air temperature we need to worry about but the ground temperature too. Unbelievably, the pavement, sand or concrete can get to 60°C higher than the air temperature and their paws are indirect contact with these surfaces.


If you want a quick and easy method of working out if it's simply too hot to walk your dog, do the '7 Second Pavement Test'.


The Dogs Trust charity recommend that you place the palm of your hand on the pavement for 7 seconds - if you can't hold it there for the full 7 seconds, then it's too hot for your dog.



What to do if you can't Walk your Dog


A dog has never died from missing a walk in the heat, but they have from walking in the heat.


During the summer, it is generally best to walk before 8 in the morning and after 8 in the evening. This allows you to exercise your pup without worrying about any potential health risks.


Of course this can mean that your dog might be getting less exercise each day. Don't worry, less exercise is preferable to heatstroke. One way of increasing exercise during the summer is to have fun with indoor dog games.

Dog playing an indoor dog game

Dog games are great for strengthening your relationship which in turn decreases your stress levels and amazingly your dog's too.


Learning new commands and games keeps their canine minds active as they channel their boundless enthusiasm during the summer months.


Take it slowly, keep it as simple as possible to start with and only build in more difficulty when you are sure your dog is ready (always set them up to win).


We take a look at some fun indoor games you can play with your dog when the weather is simply too bad or too hot to go outside - Dog Games to Play Indoors



When you Simply can't Avoid the Heat


There will be occasions that you find yourself out and about during the day, so make sure you're prepared. Take lots of cold water bottles and travel bowls to help your dog stay hydrated.


Try to walk near water or under a canopy of trees. If this isn't possible stay on the shaded side of the street.

cooling dog bananda

If you dog is unlikely to walk slowly off lead, keep them on lead and allow lots of 'sniffing' time.


There are various products including cooling vests, beds and bandanas which help to lower your dogs temperature whilst they're on the move.


We look at 5 of the best products on the UK market this summer in How to Keep your Dog Cool



How to keep your Dog Hydrated


Like most people, odds are you try to drink more water. You know that staying hydrated is vital to staying healthy. The same holds true for your dog. It's crucial that you make sure your dog has easy access to clean, fresh drinking water 24/7.


If you are concerned that your four-legged friend isn't drinking enough, why not try different bowls around the house and garden, adding a splash of carrot juice, chicken broth, or pieces of a favourite fruit to encourage drinking. Some dogs enjoy a few ice cubes in their water dish or even to play with.



Thanks for dropping by and we hope that you've found this article helpful.



Stay safe in the sun - If you suspect your dog is suffering from heat stroke or dehydration, call your vet immediately. For any health-related questions, always consult your vet as they have examined your dog, are aware of the health history, and can therefore make the best recommendations.