Summer Safety: Protect Your Dog as the Temperature Rises

  • This article has been reviewed by a pet health professional. It is not a substitute for professional veterinary advice.

It’s getting hot out there!

Just like humans, dogs get uncomfortable in high temperatures, and untreated heat-related illness can do permanent damage. Learn the most important health concerns to watch out for in your dog this summer, from dog heat stroke to pad burn and dehydration.

Heat Stroke in Dogs

Certain breeds, such as Bulldogs, are more likely to suffer in the heat. Credit: iStock/Ivan Pantic

Just as in people, heat stroke can be deadly to animals. Untreated, heat stroke can also lead to lasting damage in dogs.

Watch out for these symptoms of heat stroke:

  • Pale gums and a bright tongue
  • Disorientation
  • Unusual breathing (rapid and loud)
  • Difficulty breathing
  • High rectal temperature (over 103.5 degrees Fahrenheit, along with other symptoms of heat stroke)
  • Thick saliva
  • Weakness and/or fatigue
  • Frequent vomiting
  • Bloody diarrhea

If your dog is experiencing advanced symptoms such as vomiting, bloody diarrhea, difficulty breathing, or weakness or collapse, it is an indication that the condition is severe, and you should take the dog to the vet immediately. If you’ve only noticed a few mild symptoms, immediately take your dog into an air conditioned house, or a shady area of your yard if you can’t get indoors, and try one or all of these methods to bring the dog’s temperature down:

  • Access to water: Make sure your dog has access to cool, clean water in order to keep your dog hydrated and avoid having heat stroke progress.
  • A cool bath: Be sure that the temperature isn’t too cold as this can be a shock to the system. Run the water over the dog’s head (avoiding getting water in the ears) and down the body to help expedite the cooling.
  • A cool hose: A gentle hosing down in a shady area is a great way to bring down the temperature. Make sure that the stream is gentle so that it falls lightly on the dog. A strong stream could scare and harm your pup.

Pad Burn in Dogs

Pad burns occur on dogs’ paws after they walk on hot pavement or asphalt. They can be extremely painful for your dog and can require immediate medical attention.

To prevent these burns, try walking the dog on dirt or grass paths. Avoid walking your dog on black asphalt, as it is very, very hot and can burn the pads instantly. Test the pavement and asphalt before you let your dog walk on it; if it’s too hot to keep your hand or foot on it for 30 seconds, then it’s too hot for your pup. You can also use puppy boots to keep their feet protected.

Dog hiking boots protect JoJo’s paws from the hot and rocky ground. Photo by Melanie Lewis

Symptoms of pad burns include:

  • Refusing to walk or limping
  • Darker than usual or discolored pads
  • Excessive licking or biting of feet
  • Visible blisters or extreme redness
  • Missing parts of the pads

If you notice these symptoms, seek immediate vet assistance. If this isn’t an option, keep your dog in a cool grassy area to minimize the pain. Also keep a firm eye on the conditions of their pads, as they can easily become infected. Flush the feet with cool water and try to prevent your dog from licking them to minimize infection.

Do not bandage your dog’s paws without consulting a veterinarian, as trapping moisture under a bandage can also lead to infection.

Dehydration in Dogs

Both you and your dog should drink plenty of fluids all summer long. Make sure your dog has plenty of fresh water to drink, especially when it’s hot.

Early symptoms of dehydration include:

  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Dry mouth and gums
  • Drooling

Chronic signs of dehydration include:

  • Sunken eyes
  • Depression
  • Lack of elasticity in skin
  • Vomiting
  • Weak, rapid pulse

If your pet is exhibiting these signs of dog dehydration, offer plain water and seek immediate medical attention.

More Tips for Keeping Your Dog Comfortable During the Summer Heat

  • Walk your dog in the early morning or late evening when temperatures are cooler.
  • Stick to dirt paths or grassy walkways and avoid pavement when walking your dog.
  • Never leave your dog in a parked car. Temperatures can skyrocket and become fatal in as little as 30 minutes.
  • Move outside dogs, into an air conditioned house.
  • If no A/C is available, open screen windows when dogs are inside and use a fan to create a cool cross breeze.
  • Make sure your dog has access to plenty of shade and water if outside.
  • Try DIY frozen treats or a fun ice lick for dogs.

Keep cool out there, and if you have any more tips and tricks for keeping dogs safe this summer, please share!

Further Reading

  • Is My Dog Dehydrated?
  • What You Need to Know to Prevent Heat Stroke in Dogs
  • 4 Ways to Help Dogs in Hot Cars

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