When is it too Hot to Walk A Dog?

It may come as a surprise to learn that even at 20°C, a dog can suffer from heatstroke on a walk. But when is it too hot to walk a dog? Let’s look at the best times of day to walk a dog in summer, which dogs are more at risk from overheating, warning signs and top tips to keep them safe in the summer.

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When is it too hot to walk a dog?

There are two factors that make it too hot to walk a dog; the air temperature and the ground temperature. Walking dogs in high temperatures can be incredibly harmful and even fatal, making it essential to know what to check for when the weather gets warm.

1) Air temperature

This may come as a surprise, but walking a dog in any temperature over 19°C can carry risks. Even on a gentle stroll, a temperature rise to just 20 degrees can be too much, as dogs are susceptible to heatstroke. This is why stray dogs in warm countries naturally tend to sleep in the shade during the day.

When is it too hot to walk a dog? Here’s a scale to help you decide if it is safe, or whether you should wait for it to cool down.

Temperature Heatstroke Risk level Advice
12 – 15°C No reported cases This temperature is perfect for walking dogs, usually found early in the morning or in the summer evenings.
16 – 19 C Low risk There is a low risk at this temperature, however you should monitor behaviour in older dogs, puppies, obese and brachycephalic dogs.
20 – 23 C Medium risk Stick to low intensity exercise. Lead walk to avoid dogs being tempted to chase or run, giving them plenty of sniffy time (Dog enrichment ideas).
24 – 27 C Very High Risk This temperature is dangerous for all dogs. Take dogs for walks when the temperature is cooler instead, for example, before 8am or after 8pm if the temperatures are low enough.
28 – 31 Extreme caution. High risk These temperatures are dangerous for all dogs. Only take your dog outside for a walk if the temperatures drop down to safe levels.
32 C Extreme High Risk In these temperatures, you should not venture out, regardless of the breed, age or health of your dog or puppy.
When is it too hot to walk a dog? Our scale will help you decide

2) The surface temperature

It’s not just the air temperature you need to consider, but the temperature of the ground too. The pavement, sand or concrete can get up to 60°C higher than the air temperature. The rule of thumb is that if you are unable to comfortably hold the palm of your hand down on the ground for 10 seconds, the pavement can burn and blister your dog’s paws.

Check the pavement temperature with the palm of your hand, as dogs’ paws burn easily.

Consider the different surfaces that you intend to walk your dog on and if there’s any risk that it could be too hot, you should wait until it is colder to walk them.

6 summer dog walking tips

These tips will help you to keep your dog safe in warm weather:

  1. Plan your walk times carefully
  2. Check the temperature before you set off
  3. Make sure the ground is not too hot
  4. Consider a more shaded, flat or short walk
  5. Bring a collapsible water bowl and fresh, cool water for regular drinking
  6. Look for signs of your dog overheating and monitor them in warmer weather 

The best time to walk your dog in summer

When it is too hot to walk your dog during the day, change your routine to go for a walk in the early morning or late evening, when it’s cooler. The best times are usually before 8am and after 8pm, however there may be days where it is still too hot at these times, in which case, it is best not to go for a walk.

Did you know? Your dog does not have to go for a walk every day. Your dog may actually prefer to laze about. Take note of wild dogs and street dogs in hotter climates, they sleep and laze about all day, gently exploring in the evening.

Where to walk your dog in summer

Choose early morning to late evening walks with your dog when its hot

Even when the temperature drops to safer levels, there are certain places that you can walk a dog to make it more comfortable for them. As well as making sure pavements are cold enough and taking dogs on a safe, slow and steady walk, you can walk dogs in the following places:

  • Near water
  • Under a canopy of trees
  • On the shaded side of the street
  • On the grass, in the shade

Which dogs are more at risk?

Pregnant dogs, puppies & seniors

While all dogs are at risk of overheating when it gets too warm, those that are elderly, pregnant, overactive, puppies, or those with underlying health conditions are more prone to suffering in warm temperatures.

Gardens are ideal spaces for dogs to relax in, allowing them to laze around in the shade and potter around. This means they can have short toilet breaks and stay safe by resting in the hot weather.

For other ways to keep dogs cool in the summer, consider taking them for a paddle in the river, a splash in the paddling pool, or even a lie down on a cooling mat.

Brachycephalic (short-nosed) dogs

Certain breeds are more susceptible to overheating in the summer heat. Bulldogs struggle more than most breeds, because the blood vessels in dogs’ snouts typically enlarge to transfer heat.

Where bulldogs have short snouts, this makes them less efficient at cooling themselves, as well as being unable to breathe and pant as easily, which causes more difficulty in the heat.

Signs your dog is overheating

Heat exhaustion, heatstroke and sudden death are all too common in the summer months. Dogs don’t sweat like humans, so they rely on being kept cool during the warmer weather. It can also take dogs around three months to adapt to warmer weather, so care should be taken.

To keep your dog safe in summer, it is vital to know the signs that your dog is not coping well with the heat.

Signs that your dog is too hot include:

  • Fast, noisy breathing and panting
  • Excessive drooling
  • Bright red or blue gums
  • Vomiting or diarrhoea
  • Collapse or convulsions

Now you know when it is too hot to walk your dog in summer, please remember that if you aren’t sure if it’s too hot or not, do not walk your dog. Rest assured that down days and lazing about in the shade is not only good for our dogs’ physical and mental health but also great for ours.

Ready for a relaxing summer with your pet?

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