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How Hot is too Hot for Dogs: How to Tell if Your Dog is Overheating

Dogs die in hot cars. That's a fact that's drilled into everyone from a young age, and it's a fact that dog owners seriously need to be careful of in summer. It's not just a problem in vehicles, though, because dogs can overheat outside or in the house. It's incredibly important to know 'how hot is too hot for dogs?'.

Heat stroke is all too common, especially as dogs have only a limited ability to cool themselves down. As a responsible owner, you need to know how to spot the signs of heat stroke and how to cool down a dog. It could save your dog's life!

In this article, we'll answer your questions, and explain how you can help deal with summer heat for dogs!

How hot is too hot?

Dogs have an incredibly different anatomy and biology to humans, so it's important to understand that your idea of hot or cold isn't going to be the same as your pet's.

Different dogs react differently to heat, too. Some have thicker coats, while others are less able to cool themselves down. With that in mind, you need to get to know your dog and how well they cope or don't cope in different environments (the same can be said in winter, too, with colder temperatures). 

Generally speaking, when summer temperatures are starting to reach 80 degrees Fahrenheit, you should start to be actively looking to keep your dog cool or watching out for signs of overheating.

Inside or outside?

However, it's not a simple matter because the temperature isn't the only factor. It's the overall environment that the dog is in, which includes how much shade is available, how hydrated the dog is, and how long they have been subject to hot weather and high temperatures. 

For example, if we take it back to the dog in car analogy, while it might be 80 degrees Fahrenheit outside the vehicle when they are left there, if the dog is inside for even 10 minutes, this temperature skyrockets to 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Within half an hour, the temperature can exceed 120 degrees Fahrenheit - and that's not easy for anyone to endure. 

Dogs don't sweat: signs that your dog is overheating

Dogs are curious creatures, however, and their reaction to heat is very different from how a person reacts. For starters, did you know that dogs don't sweat?

For humans, this seems absurd, because it's sweating that allows us to cool down in hot weather. Even if you left a dog outside all day, they wouldn't drop a single bead of sweat - which is why their temperature control is so important. 

Dogs don't have this ability to cool themselves down through sweating; instead, they attempt to cool themselves down through panting. If your dog is panting excessively, it's the first major sign that they are too hot. Unfortunately, this just isn't that effective a method of temperature control. 

If your dog isn't able to cool itself down and temperatures remain high, then your dog can start showing signs of heat stroke. If you do start to notice any of the following signs or symptoms on a hot summer's day, then you need to cool your dog down or seek veterinary expertise:

Signs of overheating:

  • Excessive panting
  • Drooling
  • Lethargy
  • Red gums
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Stumbling
  • Unconsciousness or collapse

How to keep your dog cool in summer

If your dog is experiencing severe symptoms of heat stroke, such as vomiting, diarrhea, or collapse, then take them to your local vet. If they are experiencing mild symptoms, then hopefully, they will cool down with the help of shade and water. 

If it's going to be a super hot day, though, you can also preempt high temperatures and practice effective summer safety. Here's how you can actively help to keep your dog safe in hot weather:

Don't exercise in the heat

As summer approaches, keep an eye on rising temperatures. You'll already be wondering, how hot is too hot for dogs to walk, or how hot is too hot for dogs to run?

The answer depends on your dog and how they deal with heat, but when temperatures start to rise above 80 degrees Fahrenheit, you need to start being careful about their exercise regime.

On super-hot days, make sure you don't make your dog walk or run when they just want to sit in the shade.

Provide plenty of shade and water

Make sure there's going to be lots of shade and water if you do need to go for a walk outside. Equally, make sure they have lots of shade and water available in your garden. 

Keep their water bowls topped up with fresh water, and take water out with you if you do leave the house for a walk. 

If your dog is panting a lot, encourage them to drink more, and try to keep them in the cool rather than direct sunlight.

Keep the inside of the home cool

It can be very easy to forget that the house heats up just as much as a vehicle, especially if you have no temperature control or air conditioning. 

Keep the home cool by opening windows and doors and allowing air to flow. Make it convenient for your dog to get around the home, too, without overheating. Use  this product  if they want to get up and down on the bed or sofa with ease, for example. 

Use pet cooling items and techniques

You can also use pet cooling items or techniques if they are starting to look overheated. A few ice cubes on their paws can help to cool down their body temperature, or you can spray them with a little cold water.

You can learn how to take a dog's temperature with a thermometer, or you could even leave out a cold water paddling pool in the garden if you have space!

The last word

Don't forget; every dog is different. Every dog reacts differently to heat and different environmental factors. Different breeds cope better in the heat than others, while some pets just prefer being cool, if that's what they're used to!

Knowing how to spot the signs of heat stroke and how to keep your dog cool in summer is incredibly important, so why not bookmark our helpful guide? 

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