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When is it too hot outside for my dog?

Even on a mild day, even with the windows slightly opened, the temperature inside a parked car can quickly rise over 100 degrees.

When it’s 70 degrees outside, it’s too hot to leave a dog in the car.

Why do dogs get overheated so easily?

Dogs only have two ways to cool themselves, neither is very efficient. Dogs cool themselves by panting, passing hot air from their lungs over their moist tongue, but even this isn’t efficient because the muscle activity involved in panting itself generates heat. Plus, dogs do not sweat like people do, the only sweat glands they have are on the bottoms of their feet.

Does your dog dig holes in the summer?

Some dogs like to dig in hot weather to cool themselves in the cool dirt. If you find your dog is digging more in the summer, she might enjoy a hard sided and bottomed baby pool filled with water in the shade to lay in instead.

Heat exhaustion and heat stroke in dogs

It seems to me, most people know by now never to leave a dog alone in a parked car because of the risk of heat stroke.

What fewer people understand, is the primary cause of heat exhausted dogs presented to the veterinary clinic, is an overweight dog that has been sedentary all winter and into spring, suddenly allowed free exercise in the heat, or left outside in the yard without shade and water.

Clearly, dogs that spend a majority of their day indoors are at higher risk of heat stroke, because they are not acclimated to the heat. No matter how long a dog has lived outside, though, every outdoor dog deserves shelter from the heat and a bowl of fresh, cool water to drink at all times.

When is a good time to walk my dog?

It’s best to walk your dog during the cool of the day, in the early morning or after sunset.

Are there any dogs in particular that are at higher risk for heat stroke?

Short-nose dogs like bulldogs and pugs, and dogs that are older or overweight have an especially difficult time cooling themselves by panting, putting them at higher risk for heat stroke.

What are other heat risks I should be concerned about?


Dogs with pink skin showing through white fur are at risk of sunburn, and should be protected with sunscreen, or left indoors during the heat of the day.


Dogs walked on hot pavement risk serious burns to their pads. If the pavement is too hot for you to walk on with bare feet, it’s too hot for your dog to walk on. Hold your hand on the pavement for 7-10 seconds to test the temperature.

I got it, Dr. Magnusson – overheating is bad! But I’m used to exercising my dog, how do I know when enough is enough?

It’s important to be aware of the early signs of heat exhaustion, which include rapid breathing, weakness and excessive salivation. If you see any of these signs, you need to take your dog into the shade, try offering some cool water, and use that same cool water to douse the dog’s feet. Further signs that you may need to seek veterinary care include pale or dry gums, muscle tremors, disorientation, or staggering.

Do NOT throw your dog in an ice bath, or you risk hypothermia. A slow, steady return to normal body temperature is best. A dog’s normal internal body temperature is between 100 – 102.5F, so if you happen to have a rectal thermometer to check your dog’s temperature during cooling, stop cooling efforts when you get to 103F.

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