Summer is the season best spent outdoors: out in the sun, lounging by the water, or hiking in nature. Of course, all these outdoor activities are also great ways to spend quality time with your pup. But for all the fun you’ll be having in the sun with your dog, it’s also incredibly important to know the dangers hot weather can pose. Summer heat can cause dogs to dehydrate, but it can also make pavement and asphalt scorching hot, which can seriously injure your dog’s paws.
While that sounds like a bummer, your dog can still have plenty of summer fun. It’s just important to be mindful of your dog’s needs so you can keep them at their healthiest and happiest.
How to Keep Your Dog Cool in Summer Heat
Dogs need extra care when it comes to hot weather. Unlike people, who get to sweat all over their body, dogs pant to stay cool. When a dog pants, their saliva evaporates off their tongues, the inside of their nose, and even the lining of their lungs. As this moisture evaporates, air circulates through their bodies, which is what cools them off.
While it works to a degree, it’s also not exactly the most effective way to stay cool, which is why it’s so easy for dogs to overheat (and why you should never, ever, leave a dog in a hot car). However, there are plenty of ways to make sure your dog is staying cool this summer.
- Limit Your Outdoor Activity
While it may seem obvious to say that staying indoors— with the air conditioning and fans and cold water— is less risky, it’s worth mentioning that dog owners should carefully consider just how often their dogs are outside. Even dogs that spend all day outside typically could overheat very quickly during a heatwave. So during temperature spikes like that, keep your dog’s outdoor time limited to an hour or two max, and try to get them outside during the mornings or evenings, when it’s slightly cooler.
- Plan Ahead
Of course, your dogs need exercise, and keeping them cooped up inside all day isn’t much fun. So pay close attention to the forecasted weather, and try to fit in most of your outdoor activities on cooler days.
- Be Mindful of Hot Surfaces (Especially Pavement)
Not only is the sun’s heat dangerous directly, but it can also cause problems indirectly. On incredibly hot days, the sidewalk and pavement can get incredibly hot. At temperatures of 87 degrees Fahrenheit, pavement that’s been exposed to the sun for hours can reach up to 143 degrees! That’s more than enough to burn your dog’s paws. On these days, it’s best to walk your dog in areas you know well: places that tend to get a lot of shade or have little in the way of pavement. The safest bet is to stick to the grass until you know things have cooled down.
- Try Dog Booties for Outdoor Activities
Some owners drag their feet on these, either because they look silly or their dog refuses to wear them. But they’re worth the effort (and style faux pas). Dog booties can protect against hot surfaces (not to mention other issues like ticks).
Specifically, you want dog booties for hot pavement (or dog shoes for hot pavement) that can help protect their sensitive paws. If you’re good with your hands, there are even DIY dog booties you can make.
- Keep Them Hydrated
Water is always important, but monitoring your dog’s water intake is critical on hot days. Make sure you have a supply of drinkable water handy. On hikes, that means bringing alone bottled water and a portable bowl. If you’re staying local, ensure your dog’s water bowl is outside and topped off.
- Set Up a Shaded Outdoor Area
If your dog generally stays outdoors, set up an oasis for them. Beach umbrellas and plenty of water can do wonders. Your dog must have a space they can retreat to that’s out of the sun. If your dog is spending a hot day outdoors, make sure you’re in a position to check on them frequently.
- Try Dog Cooling Gear
There’s plenty of gadgets to help keep dogs cool in the summer. Everything from vests to fans designed for crates to special beds can help keep your dog cool and comfortable. This gear is great for everything from long hikes to ensuring they’re sleeping well.
- Pay Close Attention to Their Behavior
Watch for behavior changes, especially panting or weakness (more on those signs below). Your dog should not be left alone on hot days, even if you typically let them play outside. Check-in with them often, and make sure they have plenty of cold water available.
What to Do if Your Dog Has Overheated
If your dog is spending time outdoors, keep a close eye on them, and note any changes in behavior. Potential signs of overheating include:
- Excessive panting
- Shortness of breath
- Excessive drooling
- Bright red or dark red gums (as opposed to pink)
- Elevated body temperature
- An increase in heart rate
- Excessive thirst
- Confusion or disorientation
- Weakness or lethargy
One or more of these signs could mean your dog is suffering from heatstroke, which can quickly lead to organ failure and death. In these instances, you should immediately get your dog out of the heat and somewhere nice and cool, ideally an air-conditioned room. Wet several cloths or towels with cold water and place them on your dog’s neck, armpit, and behind their hind legs. You can also apply cold water to their ears and paws. Make sure your dog has cool, drinkable water available, but do not force them to drink.
As always, in these situations, Pet Plate recommends taking your dog to the vet. Your dog’s vet can give a better assessment and provide further treatment if necessary.
Keep Your Dog Healthy and Cool This Summer!
You know your dog better than anyone. Some dogs may have had enough sun after 15 minutes, while others are perfectly content to spend hours outdoors. Don’t keep your dog outside for longer than they can handle, and make sure to have plenty of water on hand. As long as you’re being cautious and making sure your dog can take breaks and cool off, you’ll have a great summer together.
And of course… for more great dog tips and important information, subscribe to the Pet Plate newsletter!