A white lab safely paddles through a clean, blue pool in the summer.

When your dog wants to go on a walk, but it’s too hot outside, they typically won’t understand why you’re saying no. Most dogs will need a mix of indoor and outdoor stimulation, and breaking their walk and potty routine may create symptoms of stress and anxiety.

Summer is also the season of the best doggy parties, but even a poolside pup needs to take extra precautions to prevent overheating. 

Your dog will show you if they are getting too hot and start to feel uncomfortable, but the signs may be more passive than an owner would think. Most of the time, overheating doesn’t look serious, but it can easily have dangerous effects on your pup’s health. 

Keep reading to learn more about ways to make sure your dog is as safe as possible during the heat of the summer months. 

How Hot Is Too Hot for Dogs?

When deciding whether or not the weather is too hot for your dog to manage, it is crucial to remember that a dog’s internal body temperature is already higher than a human’s.

The average internal temperature of a dog should be between 101.0 to 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit. Anything much higher can be dangerous.

If your dog’s temperature rises above 104.0 degrees Fahrenheit, the effects of heat stroke can be severe, and at 105.8 degrees Fahrenheit, symptoms can be fatal. 

Also, surface temperatures for asphalt and concrete are hotter than the air temperature during sunny summer days — around 40° – 60° higher, on average. This means on an 80° day, the pavement is likely to be 120° or more: plenty enough to cause burns to sensitive paw pads.

Because of risks like these, outdoor activities should change when the heat starts to pick up in the middle of the year. Instead of playing fetch in a sunny park, try incorporating sprinklers, a doggy water slide, or a pool!

On particularly hot days, play may need to be scheduled earlier in the morning or later in the day when temperatures are lower.

Regardless of how you and your dog enjoy the sunny summers, it is important to constantly assess your dog’s behavior for signs of overheating. Additionally, more frequent but shorter outdoor play sessions are a safer option to halt any risk from long-term sun exposure.

Dogs are just as sensitive to the sun as humans, and long-term exposure symptoms can range from exhaustion to actinic keratosis: a thick and crusty skin lesion that can possibly turn into skin cancer. 

Temperatures above 70° F have the potential to be dangerous for some dogs, but 70° – 80° degrees Fahrenheit is generally considered safe to play outdoors on dirt or grass surfaces.

At 85 degrees, your dog’s paws may begin to swell and blister from the heat, and at 90 degrees, air quality can become extremely dangerous for canines. Some dogs are more sensitive than others, which can make high temperatures even more threatening to a dog’s health. 

Signs of Heat Exhaustion in Dogs

Because we can’t verbally communicate with our pets, dog parents must use more creative ways to assess if their dog is too hot. You know your dog better than anyone, and if something feels off, it may be best to trust your gut.

Most symptoms of overheating aren’t very extreme, but they could be the start of something serious if left unresolved. If you suspect your dog is getting too hot, these early symptoms can help you catch the problem before it gets worse: 

  • Excessive panting
  • Salivation or drooling
  • Bright red gums, and also pale white or blue ones
  • Labored breathing 

Too much sun exposure can lead to severe conditions like heat stroke, and if your dog exhibits a combination of these symptoms after being in the sun, seek medical attention immediately: 

  • Lethargy or unsteadiness 
  • Mucus membranes turning pale 
  • Glassy eyes
  • Elevated heartbeat 
  • Vomiting 
  • Collapsing 

What Do I Do if My Dog Shows Signs of Overheating? 

If you have determined that your dog is showing early signs of minor overheating, taking them to a shaded area and pouring cool water over them may be enough to offset the heat.

If your house is a drastically different temperature than the outdoors, this water trick may help them from being shocked by the temperature change. Most of the time, stopping activity and going inside for a nap will be enough to calm their overwhelmed state. 

If more serious symptoms persist, such as lethargy or vomiting, it may be time to act fast, as heat stroke can set in slowly and then suddenly.

Call your veterinarian to assess whether or not your dog needs medical attention, and consider taking them immediately to a nearby emergency medical treatment center.

Tips for Preventing Overheating in the Summer

Hot weather poses some risks, but keeping your dog locked inside for three or so months probably won’t go so smoothly, either. To keep your beloved family pup safe in the summertime, you can put various safety measures in place before allowing time outside.

Preventative measures are even more productive ways to keep your dog safe because you aren’t waiting for symptoms to appear but instead attempting to stop them from developing altogether. 

Learn How to Protect Dog Paws From Hot Pavement 

Hot pavement can really damage your dog’s paws, leading to intense pain or even nerve damage. Anytime the weather reaches 80° F or above, you should check the pavement to see if it’s too hot for your dog’s paws.

Use the back of your hand and place it on the pavement for 10 seconds, and if you can’t manage the heat, there’s no way your dog can either. 

When it comes to protecting their paws, the solutions are to either not walk on the pavement/asphalt itself, to walk them earlier or later in the day, or to provide them with dog shoes for summer walking.

Make Sure Your Dog Gets Plenty of Water Before, During, and After Outdoor Activities

While your dog is enjoying their fun in the sun, be sure to have cool water on hand for them at all times. Keeping a dog hydrated while they play is just one step, though!

Before they set off for a day of adventures, give them lots of water. A dog should get their morning bowl of water before any outdoor activities, and this should be paired with another opportunity for fresh water when they begin to cool down from running around.

Limit Outdoor Time 

Even with proper hydration, you don’t want to test your dog’s limits and let them overexert themselves. Cutting outdoor time into smaller sections throughout the day will give your dog enough time to cool down and rest in between their outdoor adventures.

If the weather gets above 100° Fahrenheit, we recommend you keep your dogs inside with the exception of brief potty breaks. Anything over their internal body temperature can lead to more-rapid overheating and eventually dangerous conditions like heat stroke. 

Try to Keep Your Dog Playing in the Shade

If your backyard or local park has lots of trees and shaded areas, you’re in luck. Shade can keep a lot of direct sunlight from hitting your dog and even keep the surrounding area a little cooler than everywhere else.

If there isn’t much shade in your dog’s favorite place to play, use what little shade you have as a home base. Keep their treats and water under the shade so they migrate toward the shaded area to cool down. 

Never Leave Your Dog in the Car 

It may seem like a quick trip to the grocery store to you, but it’s an unregulated sauna for your beloved furry friend. Temperatures can rise by up to 20° per 10 minutes, making 70° – 80° weather life-threatening in some instances. 

In certain states, it can be a crime to leave your dog in the car, and at the very least, a first responder may have to damage your car in order to get in. There is no compensation for damages in that situation.

Some cars have adapted to include a pet mode, but in most cases, leaving your dog in the car can have some pretty serious consequences. 

Short Nose Dogs Are at an Even Higher Risk

Brachycephalic dogs are more likely to overheat because of their restricted airflow. The most efficient way for dogs to cool themselves down is by panting, and this is not practical for these breeds on hotter days. 

Brachycephalic dog breeds include pugs, Boston terriers, French bulldogs, and shih tzus; these breeds should be constantly monitored while outdoors and kept inside for hotter days of the year.

You also should use caution when considering sprinklers or a pool to cool these dogs down because their restricted airways make even small amounts of water more dangerous in their canals. 

Beat the Heat With Temperature-Controlled Fun at Greenlin Pet Resorts 

Dogs can stay, train, or simply play when they come to Greenlin. Summer is meant for fun, but some days it can be too hot to roll around in the grass and enjoy the outdoors. That can make energetic pups antsy, and it might lead to feelings of restlessness or boredom. 

Pups at Greenlin never have to worry about getting enough play time, as our facility is thoroughly prepared for all kinds of weather.

If it’s too hot to run around outside, our huge indoor play facilities offer everything a pup needs to stay active. Even aquatic pups can enjoy a dip in a state-of-the-art dog pool created specifically for canine fun. 

To learn more about the amenities at Greenlin Pet Resorts, check out our dog daycare page or contact one of our six Central Pennsylvania locations online.