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How to keep your dog safe from summer heat (and what to do if your dog has heatstroke)

(Editor’s note: The information provided by GoDoggo and Vetster is for educational and awareness purposes only and should not be treated as medical advice. If you suspect your dog has fleas, ticks or has any other medical concern then please book an appointment with Vetster or your local veterinarian.)

The warmer weather is finally here and we can’t wait to get out and explore with our dog by our side. But beware, the summer heat can be dangerous for our dogs because they don’t have the same cooling mechanisms as humans.

It’s clear to see when we are hot - we sweat. But dogs cool down by panting. Although dogs do have a few sweat glands in their paws, these glands do little to help in regulating their body temperature.

How do you keep your dog safe during summer?

These are some common things you can do during the hotter months to help keep your dog safe:

Make sure your dog has enough water

This tip might seem like an obvious one but monitoring your dog and their water intake is important. In heat waves, a good idea is to add ice to the water whenever possible and make sure you change the water often. When you are out, bring a water bottle and a portable bowl with you so your furry companion can have a quick drink whenever they are thirsty.

Hydraton Hack: A hydration hack for dogs could involve making homemade frozen treats using dog-friendly ingredients. These treats can help keep your pup hydrated and cool during hot summer days. Some ideas include freezing low-sodium chicken or beef broth, mixing it with water and pouring it into ice cube trays or using silicone molds shaped like paw prints or bones. You can also freeze pieces of dog-friendly fruits like watermelon or blueberries in water for a refreshing and hydrating snack. Just remember to consult with your veterinarian to ensure the ingredients are safe for your specific dog's dietary needs.

Never walk your dog on the hot pavement

Hot pavement can reach scorching temperatures, especially during the summer months. The sensitive paw pads of dogs can easily burn when they come into contact with hot surfaces. Severe burns can occur, causing pain, discomfort, blisters, and even permanent damage.

Always keep in mind that pavement can become significantly hotter than the air temperature. You can check the pavement temperature by placing the back of your hand on it. If it feels too hot for your hand, it's too hot for your dog's paws.

Limit exercise on hot days

During the warm and hot days of summer, make sure your dog doesn’t overwork themselves. It can be fun to go on a long hike with your pet, but it can also be too much for them especially if there isn’t any shade. On these days, limit exercise to early morning or evenings when it’s a bit cooler and especially be careful with pets with white-tipped ears because this makes them more susceptible to skin cancer.

Never Leave Your Pet In A Parked Car

You should never leave your pet in a parked car – not even for a second. On a hot day, temperatures inside a vehicle can rise rapidly to dangerous levels. On a day that is 30 degrees Celsius, for example, the temperature (even with the windows open) can quickly rise to 40 degrees within 5 minutes. After 30 minutes the temperature can reach 50 degrees. If a dog is exposed to this type of heat, they can suffer organ failure and in some cases even die. If you see a pet left inside a hot vehicle, don’t wait. Call for help immediately.

Keep Your Home Cool

Keep your home's interior temperature within a safe range. Ice packs, damp towels, and fans are excellent tools to help your pup cool down during hot days. Don't be tempted to turn off the A/C to save money when leaving home—just like a parked car, the temperature indoors can quickly soar. Keep the A/C on to create a cool oasis for your beloved pet.

Create a Cool Haven

Enhance your pup's comfort by using blackout curtains to block out excessive sunlight and heat. This simple yet effective method can significantly reduce the temperature and make your home more enjoyable for your dog.

Invest in Paw Care Essentials

Paw care essentials can include things like paw balm, paw wipes, and paw protectors. Paw balm is used to moisturize and protect your dog's paws from drying out or cracking, especially in hot weather or on rough terrain. Paw wipes can be used to clean your dog's paws after outdoor activities, helping to remove dirt, allergens, and other irritants that can cause skin irritation or infection. Paw protectors are boots or socks that provide an additional layer of protection for your dog's paws, especially in extreme weather conditions or on abrasive surfaces.

What is Heat Stroke?

Because dogs often feel the heat more than humans, it can sometimes be hard to tell if your dog is overheated so it’s important to keep a watchful eye on them. Heat stroke occurs when your pet’s body temperature rises above the normal range of 100 to 102.2 degrees.causing your pet’s body to overheat. If your dog suffers from mild heat exhaustion, it can be treated by putting your dog in a cool room. However, a heat stroke means your furry companion will need to be rushed to the veterinarian.

Here are some things you should know and signs of what to look for when it comes to the health of your dog.

What Are The Common Factors For Causing Heat Stroke?

Heatstroke, overheating or heat exhaustion occurs through a number of reasons:

  • Outside temperature (please be aware this doesn’t need to be a sunny day) - anything above 15 degrees celcius/60 degrees farenheit can be dangerous for dogs.

  • High humidity days - even when the temperature is lower

  • Dog has been left in the house all day with no ventilation (open windows/fan) or air conditioning

  • Too much playing and/or for too long

  • Not enough water - either not enough water to access, or not drinking enough

  • Pets left inside of a hot car - cars can heat up to dangerous levels within minutes - never leave your dog in a parked car, even with the windows down, especially on summer days when the air is warm (sunny or cloudy - it doesn’t matter)

What Are The Symptoms Of Heat Stroke?

Heat exhaustion can quickly lead to heat stroke which can quickly be deadly. It’s important to watch for the signs, and if you see any get your dog to the vet immediately.

The most common symptoms of heat stroke are:

  • when a dog pants excessively. (most common symptom)

  • drooling

  • red gums

  • vomiting

  • diarrhea.

In the worst cases, a dog will lose coordination, collapse, or lose consciousness.

What Should You Do If Your Dog Has Heat Stroke?

You should remove the dog from the hot environment immediately and take them to your veterinarian or the nearest emergency animal hospital. On the way to the veterinarian, open all the of your vehicles windows and blast the air conditioning.

Until you can get to the veterinarian:

  • Walk or carry your dog to a well ventilated, cool area.

  • Spray or sponge your dog with cool (not cold) or tepid water especially on the underside.

  • Do not immerse your dog in cold water or use ice.

  • Use a fan to blow cool air on your dog.

  • Give your dog as much cool water to drink as they want but don’t force them to drink.

  • Never give your dog aspirin

How Will A Veterinarian Treat Heat Stroke?

With heatstroke, safe, controlled reduction of your pet’s body temperature is the first priority. Cool water may be poured over the head, stomach, and paws, or cool cloth may be applied to those areas. The dog will likely be hooked up to an IV to replace lost fluids. Sometimes the dog will go on low-concentration oxygen if necessary. Your veterinarian will also likely monitor the dog for secondary complications such as kidney failure, abnormal clotting, and neurologic symptoms.

Final Thoughts

We all love spending the summer outdoors, camping, hiking, and exploring beaches with our furry companions. Because of the increased heat, it’s important to keep your dog safe and healthy during these summer months. If you follow these tips then both you and your dog companion can enjoy the beautiful weather without having to worry about the heat.


More about GoDoggo:

GoDoggo is your ultimate dog-friendly city guide, making planning days out with your pup easier than ever. With 18 different categories ranging from restaurants, coffee shops, breweries to shopping, attractions, gyms, hikes and trails, the app helps dog owners discover and explore places based on their location, read and leave reviews from the perspective of dog owners, and learn more about the dog-friendliness of each location. Soon, the app will also have dog-friendly events. Download the app here.


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