Summer Heat Dangers for Your Dog

By Sarah Hinds Friedl on June 25th, 2020

Every summer, dog owners grapple with some common misconceptions around summer heat dangers. For instance, how does your dog really feel about that big fuzzy coat? How worried should you be about dogs in parked cars? And are the dog owners who put booties on their dogs overreacting?

In this BreezeGuard blog installment, we’re going to talk all about the risks of summer heat for your dog. We’ll cover the hot car debate, pavement problems, and how to identify heat exhaustion symptoms. Then, we’ll share the fun ways that you can keep your dog cool and comfortable this summer.

So, blast the air conditioner, and let’s get started!

How dangerous are hot cars really?
Sadly, the danger of leaving a dog in a parked car is not a myth. And, some dog owners with good intentions will still make the mistake of leaving their dog in a car that is too hot. 

The reality is, even if you park in the shade or crack a window, that indoor temp can rise fast. In fact, the AKC reports that on a mild summer day of around 70 degrees, the inside of a parked car can reach 100 degrees in 20 minutes. Having a cracked window doesn’t significantly impact that temperature increase. 

The risks are so high for pets in parked cars, that 31 states have passed laws to protect them. Some of these laws prohibit leaving pets in cars that would endanger their health, and others protect bystanders who rescue pets in need from being sued.

How about other summer heat dangers?
While parked cars are a huge area of concern for pet health, dogs can also suffer from other summer heat risks. 

Hot pavement, for instance, can be painful and dangerous for dogs. Because while those paw pads are pretty tough—designed for a variety of terrains and shock absorption—they are still vulnerable to burning.

Again, even on mild but sunny days, pavement can reach temperatures of 60 degrees hotter than air temperature. Once the floor temperatures exceed 125 degrees, which can occur when the outside temperature is just 70 degrees, your pup may be at risk.

Hot climates in general are another danger for our doggos, and here, we can use ourselves as a pretty good guide. Just like we may start to suffer as temperatures top 100 degrees, dogs are also at heightened risk for heat exhaustion, especially at temperatures of around 103 to 106 degrees. 

Do all dogs experience heat exposure the same way?
Some dogs are more vulnerable to heat exposure than others. Brachycephalic breeds—the ones with scrunched snouts such as Bulldogs and Boxers—tend to suffer more from heat exposure than other dogs. This is because they have a harder time circulating air through their snouts, making body temperature regulation more difficult.

In addition, senior dogs and dogs with respiratory conditions may also be more vulnerable to heat exposure.

Now, how about the fluffier doggos? They must be hot! Contrary to popular belief, dogs with thick coats don’t necessarily suffer more from heat exposure than other dogs. In fact, in most dog breeds, that long coat serves a pretty clever purpose during the summer, keeping heat and UV rays away from their skin and allowing wind to filter through their fur fibers. While common sense might say that we should shave our dogs during the summer, most experts suggest that your dog’s coat is a pretty good temperature regulator. 

What does heat exhaustion look like in dogs?
Of course, regardless of how effective a dog’s coat is at regulating body temperature, all dogs can experience the negative effects of heat exposure. If your dog is suffering from heat exposure, you might not immediately recognize their discomfort. Here are some of the most common warning signs to know when it’s time to get your pup out of the heat:

  • Listlessness, lethargy, and lack of responsiveness
  • Glazed eyes or unfocused gaze
  • Increased heart rate 
  • Excessive panting and drooling

If symptoms are not too severe, remove your dog to a cooler area and allow their body temperature to lower slowly.

On the other hand, if a dog is suffering from heat exhaustion or heat stroke, they may experience fainting, diarrhea, vomiting and color change of the tongue and gums. They should receive medical attention as soon as possible.

What can you do to keep your pet cool this summer?
Now that you know about some of the summer heat hazards and the early warning signs, how can you make sure that your pup is comfortable when temperatures rise? Here are a few ways to have a fun and safe summer with your dog:

  • When driving around with your pup in the backseat, roll those windows down for a fresh breeze! Of course, you’ll want to keep your dog from sticking their head out of the window, so make sure that you have your BreezeGuard screens installed! 
  • Look for pet-friendly establishments in your area so that you can avoid leaving Fido in the car.
  • If you’re running errands with another person, have them stay in the car to regulate the temperature and turn on the air conditioning as necessary.
  • Avoid walking on pavement that has received direct sunlight, or check the ground temperature with your hand before having your dog walk on it. Even then, give your dog the chance to walk on grass or dirt if that’s available.
  • Invest in some dog booties to protect their paw pads from hot pavement.
  • Always leave the house with water for your dog. You might use some of this water to splash directly on your pup or wipe them down with a wet towel.
  • Speaking of water, if you’re wondering how to provide your dog with enough exercise this season, make sure that water is involved! This might mean a trip to the lake or a game of fetch in your backyard blow-up pool. 
  • Consider scheduling your walks and other outings during the cooler times of day, like early morning or evening.
  • If you’re leaving your furry friend at home, set the thermostat at a comfortable temperature.
  • Make some tasty dog popsicles (or should we say pupsicles?) Blend their favorite treats or dog-safe vegetables with a bit of water, pour the mixture into ice cube trays and freeze. Your pup will love these frozen treats on warm days.

These simple steps will ensure that your dog is cool and safe this summer season. That means more fun playtime with your furry friend!

And if you’re looking for more info on dog care, make sure to visit our BreezeGuard blog!


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