How To Keep Your Dog Cool and Safe During the Summer

by | Jun 27, 2023 | Health & Wellness

Summer temperatures are on the rise. As the weather heats up, being outside with your dog is fun, but high temps can put your pet at risk for overheating. That’s why knowing safe temperatures to walk your dog and how to keep your pet cool in the summer is important. This article will explore essential tips for keeping your dog safe during summer, focusing on hydration, preventing overheating, identifying heat stroke symptoms, and more. 

How to Keep Your Dog Cool In the Summer?

Its important to keep your pet cool in and prevent overheating in the summer.

Dogs are like family. They depend on you to keep them healthy and safe. Here are three simple ways to keep your dog cool and safe in the summer. 

Make Sure Your Dog Has Shade and Fresh Water Available

Provide your dog with some shade on hot summer days. Fill a small kiddie pool with water for your pet to cool off. Most of all, provide your dog with fresh water to drink. 

Check out the helpful blog “Your Guide To Keeping Your Pet Hydrated” for more tips.

Examine the Pavement Before Walking Your Dog

If you’re unsure if it’s too hot to walk your dog, try walking on the pavement barefoot. If it feels too hot for your feet, it’s too hot to walk your dog on the pavement. Walk your dog in the early morning before the day heats up or in a grassy area instead of a sidewalk or street to keep their pads from getting burned or damaged. If you can’t avoid walking your dog on a sidewalk, put booties on their feet to protect their feet from hot surfaces. 

Don’t Leave Your Dog in a Hot Car

Never leave your pet in a car, camper, or outside kennel when it’s hot. Temperatures rise quickly in these vehicles or outside kennels up to temperatures as hot as 117°F. Putting your pet in these could lead to severe damage or even death. 

Control the Amount of Outdoor Exercise

A good rule of thumb is to reduce your dog’s outdoor exercise for that day if there are heat warnings in your area. A basic guide is that in temperatures of 80°F or above with at least 90% humidity, your dog could experience heatstroke. 

Instead, play inside the air-conditioned house with your dog 

Essential Safety Tips for Taking Dogs to the Beach

There are many safety precautions you can take when bringing your dog to the beach.

If you’re headed on vacation, here are a few safety tips for keeping your dog cool in the summer while at the beach. 

  • Provide water-Keep your dog hydrated and cooled off with lots of fresh water to drink. 
  • Pet-safe sunscreen – Yes, you can apply sunscreen to your dog’s ears, nose, and places with less fur or hair, such as their stomach. Places where your dog’s skin is exposed can get the same issues that human skin does in the sun and heat – from sunburns to skin cancer!
  • Stay away from hot sand. If the sand is hot, keep your dog inside for the day. The sand will burn their pads. Some dog parents use summer booties to protect their pads and feet. 
  • Be sure your dog stays in the shade or at the water’s edge to keep cool. 
  • Don’t let your dog eat sand; it’s bad for their stomach and could cause blockages. 
  • Keep your dog out of the waves if they’re too rough. 
  • Keep your dog in the sand if jellyfish or stingrays are in shallow water. 
  • If your dog isn’t a strong swimmer, consider a lifejacket if they are exploring near the water.

Are Dogs’ Ears Supposed to Be Warm?

Warm ears are normal for dogs, but if they're too warm it could be fever or an infection.

Your dog’s ears feel warm; it may be because their body temps run between 99.5°F to 102.5°F. If your dog’s ears feel too warm, it could mean they have a fever or an ear infection. Monitor your pup for other symptoms that could indicate your dog is sick. Signs your dog is sick include:

  • Lack of appetite
  • Urinating a lot
  • Bad breath coming from their ears
  • Aggression
  • Can’t poop
  • Thirsty
  • Lethargic

How to Know If Your Dog Is Overheating?

Excessive panting may be a sign that your dog is overheating.

Summer is a great time to be outside with your dog for walking, playing frisbee, or working on agility training. But summer heat can be hard on your pup. So, how do you know if your dog is overheating? Watch for certain telltale signs your dog is struggling with the heat. These signs include:

  • Excessive panting-panting longer than normal or faster than normal
  • Trouble breathing
  • Signs of dehydration- dry nose, sunken eyes, vomiting, or pasty-looking saliva
  • Excessive drooling
  • Bright red or purple-looking gums

You can find additional information in this article: “Here’s How To Know If Your Dog Is Overheating.”

What Are the Signs of a Dog Heatstroke?

Heatstroke occurs when your dog’s body doesn’t properly dissipate heat when exposed to hot weather or situations that cause them to overheat, such as physical exercise. Heat stroke can cause your dog’s body temps to go as high as 105°F. Signs your dog may have heat stroke include:

  • Collapse
  • Lethargy
  • Signs of shock
  • Mental confusion
  • Disorientation
  • Rapid breathing
  • Seizures
  • Coma
  • Internal bleeding 

What Are the Signs of Burned Paw Pads?

High pavement temperatures in the summer can burn your dog's paw pads.

Dogs’ paws are made to withstand a lot. But the summer heat raises pavement temperatures so high they can burn their pads while walking on the hot surface. Here are a few signs your dog has burned the pads of their feet. 

  • Limping
  • Not wanting to walk on the pavement
  • Licking their pads
  • Their pads are cracked or bleeding
  • Some of the pad is missing
  • Blisters
  • Redness
  • Bleeding

If you think your dog has burned their pads, treat them at home.

  • Wash your dog’s burned pads with an antibacterial soap
  • Rinse with tepid water, not cold
  • Gently pat dry with a towel
  • Apply Betadine or hydrogen peroxide on the burns
  • Let air dry

Routinely use a paw pad wax or balm to moisturize and protect your dog’s paws. If the pads get worse or look infected, contact your vet immediately. 

Is It Too Hot to Walk My Dog?

The ideal temperature for humans and dogs to walk is 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

It’s suggested that the ideal temperature for humans to walk is around 75°. This temperature is also good for walking most dogs, but if it gets hotter, certain breeds are more susceptible to heatstroke because of the shape of their faces, making it harder to breathe in the heat. The dog breeds that are prone to heat stroke include:

  • Bulldogs (including French Bulldogs)
  • Shih Tzus
  • Pugs

Other risks factors that make your dog prone to heat stroke include

  • Obesity
  • High-stress activities like running our outdoor agility workouts
  • Dehydration

If the temperature is at least 80°F with at least 90% humidity, your dog could run the risk of getting heatstroke. Dogs can’t regulate their body temps the way you can. Humans sweat when overheated, but dogs can’t sweat. Panting is their only way to cool off when the temperatures rise. 

If you’re wondering, “Is it too hot to walk my dog?” here are some things you can do to answer this question.

Check the humidity: Take a look at the day’s humidity before walking your dog. It’s unhealthy for your pup to be out in humid weather. High humidity can result in your dog overheating even if the temps aren’t that high. When the humidity is too high,  dogs can’t pant enough to remove the heat from their body. On humid days, take your pet out when it is safe to walk a puppy outside, such as in the early mornings or evenings. 

What is the temperature of the ground?-Another way to decide if you should walk your dog is to check the temperature of the ground. Pavement and sidewalks soak up heat and retain the heat making these areas burning hot. These hot surfaces can burn your dog’s paws and pads. Test the temperature of the ground by walking on it with your bare feet or touching the pavement with your hand. If it feels too hot for your feet, it’s too hot for your dog’s feet. 

How Do I Know If My Dog Is Panting Too Much?

Excessive panting could indicate that your dog is struggling to breathe.

Dogs pant for various reasons. Excessive panting could indicate your dog is struggling. Signs your dog is panting too much include:

  • Open-mouthed breathing
  • Noisy breathing
  • Tongue hanging out
  • Breathing quickly
  • Shallow breathing
  • Change in gum colors to pale pink or even blue color

How Can You Determine Whether Your Dog’s Panting Is Normal or Not? 

Normal panting in dogs is 24 breaths per minute.

Normal panting for a dog is 24 breaths a minute. If their breathing is heavier than this, it’s considered abnormal. Watch for signs of abnormal panting, including.:

  • Noisy breathing
  • Open mouth breathing even at rest with their tongue hanging out
  • Rapid breathing
  • Shallow breathing
  • Blue or pale-looking gums due to lack of oxygen

If you notice these signs, call your vet immediately. 

Why do dogs pant? 

  • Exercise – Whether you are walking, jogging, or hiking with your pup, it can cause them to pant. How long your dog pants after exercise depends on their breed, athleticism, weight, muzzle length, and age. If you have an older or out-of-shape dog, they may pant for longer.
  • Pain –  Panting can indicate that they are in pain or even nauseous. If the panting lasts longer than 15 minutes, even if your dog is rested and watered.  
  • Stress and Anxiety – When your dog is stressed or anxious, it’s common for them to pant. Dogs get stressed from visiting the vet, car rides, bad weather, fireworks, or any other event. 
  • Medications – Certain medications that your vet may have prescribed can cause panting, such as steroids, benzodiazepines, opioids for their pain, or thyroid medication.  
  • Anemia – If your dog has been diagnosed with anemia, it may pant more. Anemic dogs have a lower red blood cell volume which can lead to a lack of oxygen around the body. Panting is a way to speed the oxygen intake.
  • Cushing’s Disease – If your dog has Cushing’s Disease, panting is one of the side effects.  
  • Lung (Respiratory) Issues – Respiratory problems, such as pneumonia, laryngeal paralysis,  and lung tumors, could cause your pup to pant.
  • Heart Issues –Certain heart conditions cause dogs to pant. Panting or heavy breathing could result from heart disease or, more seriously, congestive heart failure.

Supporting Preventive Care and Routine Check-ups for a Healthy Summer

It's important to schedule preventative care and routine checkups for your dog.

Regularly scheduled preventative care and regular health check-ups are important to ensure your dog is ready for the summer heat. Having health insurance and a wellness plan for your dog offsets the costs. 

Odie’s Illness & Injury Plan – Odie’s Illness and Injury plans are affordable and comprehensive. These plans cover both illness and accidents. 

Odie’s Accident-Only Plan – Odie’s accidental-only plan covers emergency vet visits in case your pet is injured. If you’re on a tight budget but want some insurance for your dog, this is the plan for you. Or if our pet is older, this might be your best plan.

Odie’s Wellness Plan – This wellness plan provides for your pet to have regular check-ups. It’s not an insurance policy but helps cover extra costs such as flea and tick meds, microchipping, and vaccinations. 

You can also check this link to learn more about how often you should take your pets to the vet.

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