While summer brings longer days to play outside with your pet, the heat and humidity can pose dangers for your furry friend. Whether you’re going for a hike together, playing Frisbee in the backyard, or heading to the local dog park, you’ll want to protect them from dehydration, heat stroke, burned paw pads, and even sunburn.
In this guide, we’ll go over how hot is too hot for your pets and how to keep pets cool in summer.
How Hot Is Too Hot For Dogs to Be Outside?
The normal temperature range at which dogs can best maintain their body temperature is between 68°F to 86°F. If you follow the tips in this article, your dog can be okay in up to 90°F (for limited amounts of time only). Anything hotter than that is too hot for your pet to be outside or to take your dog on an active walk.
However, it’s important to remember that certain pets are at higher risk of heatstroke. If your pet is very young, old, overweight, ill, or a breed that has a short muzzle (like a boxer, pug, or shih tzu), you’ll want to be extra careful.
How hot is too hot for pets in the house?
To keep your pets comfortable indoors, try to keep the temperature between 68°F to 78°F. Never set your thermostat lower than 60°F or leave your AC off on a hot summer day while you’re gone (if your pet is home).
You can use the following summer pet safety tips to keep your pets safe and cool during the dog days of summer.
Don’t Leave Your Pets Unattended in a Parked Car
On an 85°F day, the temperature inside your car can soar to 102°F—even with the windows opened slightly—after just 10 minutes. Within 30 minutes, the temperature will reach 120°F, which could mean organ damage or death for your beloved pets. This is why it’s critical to never leave your pets in the car for any amount of time.
Provide Plenty of Fresh, Clean Water
Pets can quickly dehydrate, especially during hot, humid days. Make sure you give cats and dogs in hot weather access to lots of fresh water, both inside and outside the home.
You can also give your pets yummy cooling treats like puppy ice cream and pupsicles. You can buy these locally or try a DIY recipe. (Note that while your pet will surely love a treat, these aren’t replacements for water.)
Pro Tip: Bring a plastic bowl with you for your pets’ on-the-go drinks. Many places (including parks) provide water fountains, so you can fill up the bowl wherever you go. Restaurants that allow animals will fill their bowl for you as well.
Take Note of Humidity Levels
You may also want to limit your pets’ time outside on particularly humid days. Why?
Animals pant to remove moisture from their lungs and draw heat away from their body (aka to cool off). In high humidity, animals can’t cool themselves properly, and their internal body temperature can rise to dangerous levels.
According to the American Kennel Club, a dog’s normal temperature ranges between 99.5 and 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit, so anything above that can be dangerous or fatal.
Provide Ample Shade When You Take Pets Outside
To keep pets cool in the summer, always make sure they can find a shady respite when the sun blazes overhead. In your backyard, that could mean a covered porch, an overhead tarp, or a shady tree.
Pro Tip: We don’t recommend using a dog house to provide shade for your pup. Unless it’s extremely well-ventilated, most dog houses actually trap heat, making it even hotter for your pets.
Exercise During Cooler Hours
Your furry friends need physical activity every day, so don’t skip going outside—just limit when and how you do it. Go early in the morning or near sunset when outdoor temperatures are cooler.
You can also adjust both the intensity and duration of your pets’ exercise session, making sure to include frequent breaks. Don’t forget to give your pets access to fresh water before, during, and after a playful romp.
Avoid Prolonged Exposure to Hot Surfaces
In extreme heat, your dog’s sensitive paw pads can quickly burn and even blister when walking on a hot surface like sidewalks, sand, and asphalt. (Think of the pain you feel when walking across a hot, sandy beach or running to the car barefoot.)
For this reason, pet heat safety includes avoiding hot surfaces and ensuring that there’s grass they can walk on when outdoors.
When is it too hot to walk dogs on pavement?
The best rule of thumb is if the pavement is too hot for your bare hands or feet, it’s too hot for your pet. Hold your hand on the ground for at least 10 seconds to test how hot it is. Asphalt can be 40 to 60 degrees hotter than the surrounding air temperature.
Taking your pets on walks frequently can toughen up their paw pads so that they get calloused. While this can help the paw pads withstand extreme temperatures a bit better, it’s better to avoid hot surfaces altogether.
Know Your Pets’ Specific Challenges
Not all dog breeds are the same, and some respond to summer weather differently.
For instance, short-nosed pets (like pugs and boxers) typically have more difficulty breathing because they can’t pant as efficiently as long-nosed dogs. As a result, these breeds are more susceptible to developing heat stroke.
Consider asking your veterinarian for advice on how to address these challenges year-round for your specific pets.
Apply a Pet-Friendly Sunscreen
Did you know that cats and dogs can get sunburned? Those with white fur, short hair, and pink skin are especially susceptible to sunburn—especially on their ears and nose.
To protect your fur-family, limit your pets’ sun exposure during the day and apply a pet-friendly sunscreen to their ears, nose, and coat if they’ll be going outside for an extended period.
Keep Your Pets Properly Groomed
You may think that shaving your dog will help keep them cool, but it doesn’t actually work this way. Unlike people, dogs don’t cool themselves through their skin but through panting. In fact, shaving your pets can increase their risk of sunburn and heat exhaustion.
To best protect your pets, avoid trimming their fur to less than one inch. A dog’s cooling sweat glands are located on the feet, so you can trim excess fur off the paws to help sweat evaporate. Regular brushing can also help improve circulation and cooling.
Take Water Safety Measures at the Pool and Beach
If you have a pool or take your dog to the beach with you, it’s important to follow water safety as well. Never leave your pets alone by the water in case they fall in or something happens. You’ll also want to be there to make sure they don’t drink any chlorine or salt water.
If your pet doesn’t know how to swim yet, introduce them to water slowly and cautiously.
How Do You Know When a Dog Is Too Hot: Signs of Heatstroke
On hot or humid days, look for these telltale signs of heat exhaustion in dogs or cats:
- Heavy panting
- Difficulty breathing
- Excessive thirst
- Glazed eyes
- Dizziness or lack of coordination
If you notice your pets exhibiting any of these signs, immediately move them into the shade or air-conditioning, provide them with water, and contact your veterinarian. Quick medical treatment can be the difference between life and death.
Wetting a dog can also help cool them down, so you may apply cold towels to their head and upper body or run cool water over them to lower their internal temperature. Just don’t use ice-cold water.
By taking the simple precautions in this article, you can help keep your pets cool in the heat and make the most of the long summer days.