Ahh, summer! Whether you’re enjoying the dog days of summer, planning a road trip, a picnic, or planning a sweet pool-filled getaway with your dog, summer is definitely the TIME to go outside to make memories with your families and pets.
But sometimes, the heat can be too much for our furry friends. Much like how sunscreen is part of our Summer Safety 101, dog owners should also know how hot is too hot for a dog. Make recognizing the signs of overheating part of your 101 kit too.
Also, be sure to check out my cold weather guide to learn how long you should walk your dog in winter too!
- General Guidelines
- Too Hot to Walk Infographic Guidelines
- Recognizing Signs of Heatstroke in Dogs
- Factors that Impact Whether it is Too Hot For Your Dog Outside
- Walking on Pavement, Asphalt, or Concrete? It’s a Lot Hotter for Your Dogs Than You Might Think!
- What about walking your dog on other surfaces like grass and soil?
- What if I only walk in the shade?
- Humidity Can Increase Overheating in Dogs
- When Is it Too Hot for Brachycephalic or Short-Nosed Breeds?
- When Is it Too Hot for Double-Coated Dogs?
- Finally, Your Dog’s Age and Health Matter Too!
- Putting It Altogether
- 7 Dog Summer Safety Tips to Keep Your Dog From Overheating This Summer
- 1. Walk in the early morning or late evening when it is cooler
- 2. Choose shaded trails or trails with water
- 3. Bring water – no matter how short your walk is
- 4. Take shorter walks more often
- 5. Have your dog wear cooling clothing
- 6. Avoid standing in one place for too long – especially on pavement
- 7. Protect the paws from heat
- Sources and Extra Reading
- Other Posts You May Enjoy
This post contains affiliate links to products. We may receive a commission for purchases made through some of the links on this post.
Please note that I am not a veterinarian nor am I an animal health care professional. This blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional veterinarian advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian with any questions you may have regarding the condition and/or the safety of your dog.
What temperature is too hot for dogs? For any dog, 32° C / 89.6° F is considered too hot. At this temperature, your dog is prone to heat stroke, regardless of its breed or health.
In a perfect world, the best temperature to walk your dog is between 12° C – 15° C / 53.6° F – 59° F.
But what about in between these two temperature ranges? Well, it depends! Factors like the terrain, breed type, and even where you walk can impact whether it is too hot for a dog.
Too Hot to Walk Infographic Guidelines
Here is an easy-to-use chart that most dog owners can follow to determine if it’s too hot to walk your dog.
Recognizing Signs of Heatstroke in Dogs
Your dog may be overheating if you see:
- Frantic/excessive panting
- Excessive drooling
- Changes in gum colour (bright or dark red)
- Dry nose
- Excessive thirst
If you notice any of the above symptoms and signs of disorientation, stumbling or weakness, seek veterinary care immediately.
Factors that Impact Whether it is Too Hot For Your Dog Outside
Did you know that there are plenty of other factors that can drastically change how easy it is for your dog to overheat?
Much like how we feel temperature, how hot it feels to a dog can be impacted by factors including:
- The types of surfaces your dog walks on
- Whether you’re walking in the sun or shade
- Humidity levels
- Your dog’s breed
- Your dog’s overall health
Let’s take a look at each factor in more detail to see how these different factors can impact our dog’s health and safety.
Walking on Pavement, Asphalt, or Concrete? It’s a Lot Hotter for Your Dogs Than You Might Think!
If you’ve ever walked in the city in the summer, you’ll know that asphalt, pavement, and concrete surfaces just LOVE to retain heat.
These heat-loving surfaces can become life-threateningly hot for our dog’s paw pads on warm days.
How hot can it get? Well, imagine accidentally scalding yourself in a hot shower. Ouch! Now imagine applying that same temperature or hotter to your dog’s feet when you take them out for a walk. Double ouch!
Just so we all understand exactly how painful that can be for dog’s paw pads, here are some temperature facts for more context:
Here’s another fact:
The maximum temperature for our showers is part of our building regulations. This means that this rule is enforceable by the law, to protect us from severely burning ourselves in the shower.
Okay, you might be thinking to yourself:
“Maria… fact #2 is SO RANDOM. Why are you talking about showers when I’m just here to learn more about when it’s too hot to walk my dog?”
And… I’ll have to agree with you! The temperature fact is out there – but just take a look at how just how hot asphalt can get in the sun:
|Air Temperature||Asphalt Surface Temperature |
(Under Direct Sun)
|25° C / 77° F||52° C / 125° F|
|30° C / 86° F||57° C / 135° F|
|31° C / 87° F||62° C/ 143° F|
Isn’t it absolutely CRAZY that at just 25° C, walking on asphalt can feel hotter than taking the absolute hottest shower in Ontario?
We have literal regulations to protect people from burns, yet asphalt can EASILY scorch past that temperature on a kind-of-warm day.
So what’s the key takeaway here?
Because of how hot asphalt, concrete, and other paved surfaces can get in the summer, your dog’s paw pads can easily burn even if it’s only 25° C / 77° F outside.
What about walking your dog on other surfaces like grass and soil?
So now that we know just how hot asphalt can feel on our dog’s feet, you might be wondering – what about other surfaces? What if I walk my dog on just grass? Will their feet still burn?
Luckily, we have a study done in Turkey, that can help us answer this question! They compared the surface temperature of asphalt concrete, soil, and grass on sunny days. Here’s what they found out:
- On average, the grass was 11.79° C cooler than asphalt concrete
- On average, the soil was 5.3° C cooler than asphalt concrete
This means that outside of walking on water, the grass is the coolest surface for your dog to walk on during the summer, followed by soil, and then asphalt.
Putting this information together, here’s how the surface temperatures could feel on sunny days at different temperatures for your dog:
|Air Temperature||Asphalt Surface Temperature|
|Soil Surface Temperature|
|Grass Surface Temperature|
|25° C / 77° F||52° C / 125° F||47° C / 117° F||38° C / 100° F|
|30° C / 86° F||57° C / 135° F||52° C / 126° F||45° C / 113° F|
|31° C / 87° F||62° C/ 143° F||57° C / 135° F||50° C / 122° F|
- Grass won’t burn your dog’s paw pads even if you decide to go out on a sunny 30° C day – but it’ll still be uncomfortably hot and may be painful!
- Having your dog walk on soil on a sunny 25° C probably won’t burn your dog’s feet but it’ll probably still feel hot on your dog’s paws. At 30° C+, you may need to watch out for potential paw pad burns.
What if I only walk in the shade?
Okay, so we ALL KNOW that staying in the shade feels so much cooler on a hot sunny day. Even though the temperature doesn’t change, it feels cooler because we’re not absorbing heat directly from the sun.
But did you know that shade has a HUGE impact on reducing how hot the surfaces feel on our dog’s feet?
If we take some of the findings from this study done in Australia, we can see that shade can provide up to 10° C to 25° C reduction in surface temperature when compared to the same surface in the blazing sun.
This is how various asphalt, soil, and grass will feel to your dog’s paws if they’re walking in the shade at various temperatures versus in the sun:
Asphalt Surface Temperature in the Sun vs. Shade
|Air Temperature||Asphalt in the Sun||Asphalt in the Shade|
|25° C / 77° F||52° C / 125° F||31° C / 88° F|
|30° C / 86° F||57° C / 135° F||36° C / 97° F|
|31° C / 87° F||62° C/ 143° F||41° C/ 106° F|
Soil Surface Temperature in the Sun vs. Shade
|Air Temperature||Soil in the Sun||Soil in the Shade|
|25° C / 77° F||47° C / 117° F||25° C / 77° F|
|30° C / 86° F||52° C / 126° F||30° C / 86° F|
|31° C / 87° F||57° C / 135° F||35° C / 95° F|
Grass Surface Temperature in the Sun vs. Shade
|Air Temperature||Grass in the Sun||Grass in the Shade|
|25° C / 77° F||38° C / 100° F||19.5° C / 67° F|
|30° C / 86° F||45° C / 113° F||26.5° C / 80° F|
|31° C / 87° F||50° C / 122° F||31.5° C / 89° F|
Isn’t it so incredible to see such a dramatic change in surface temperature just because of shade? I think it’s amazing!
- Walk in the shade as much as possible
If you must walk your dog in the heat, walk in the shade as much as possible. Although the risk of paw pad burns is significantly reduced, you’ll still want to keep an eye out for signs of heat stress, heat stroke, and overheating in your dog.
Temperatures between 16° C to 31° C (61° F – 90° F) can be too hot for some dogs – like obese, short-nosed or double-coated dogs!
Humidity Can Increase Overheating in Dogs
There are three ways that dogs can cool down:
- Sweating through their paws
- Vasodilation – bringing hot blood closer to the surface of the skin to release heat
However, the primary way for dogs to stay cool is by panting. When a dog pants, moisture from the tongue and their breath evaporate, taking some of the heat away with it too. It’s similar to how sweat on the human body keeps us cool.
But on humid days, moisture on their tongue and their paw pads are unable to evaporate, making it incredibly hard for dogs to cool down.
With no way to cool down, a dog’s body temperature can rise very quickly on a humid and hot day.
On a humid day, use the ‘feels like’ temperature (I use the Weather Network for this all the time) instead of the actual temperature when deciding when and how long you should take your dog out for.
When Is it Too Hot for Brachycephalic or Short-Nosed Breeds?
Pugs, Shih Tzus, Chihuahuas, Boxers, and other brachycephalic dog breeds (dogs with a “shortened head”) have an even tougher time staying cool because they can’t pant as well as other dogs.
When Is it Too Hot for Double-Coated Dogs?
Double-coated dogs (like the Golden Retriever, Husky, and Chow Chow) are dogs with two different types of fur on their body:
- An outer coarse fur – also known as guard hairs, and
- An insulting soft undercoat
The insulating soft undercoat of double-coated dogs keeps dogs warm in the winter while it keeps dogs cool in the summer. Together with the guard coat, this double-coated system can not only help regulate a dog’s body temperature but also prevent sunburns too.
Unfortunately, double-coated dogs will still overheat faster than single-coated dogs in the summer.
Note: Please do not consider shaving your double-coated dog in an attempt to keep them cool in the summer! Shaving your dog’s fur can result in uneven fur growth and even crowd out the guard hairs resulting in poorer insulation, and a change in the texture and colour of your dog’s fur.
Finally, Your Dog’s Age and Health Matter Too!
Your dog’s age and health can also influence how easily they overheat too. Overweight dogs or dogs with any compromised health condition are more prone to overheating – even in cooler temperatures.
Energetic puppies are more prone to overexerting themselves from enthusiasm and also have more sensitive paw pads that can burn more easily than older dogs.
Senior dogs, on the other hand, have more trouble regulating their body temperature from panting – many senior dogs tend to be less hydrated and cannot rely on panting as well as younger adult dogs in the heat.
Putting It Altogether
Determining whether it’s too hot for a dog to go outside depends on more than just the temperature on the thermometer.
While all dogs should avoid going out when it’s 32° C / 89.6° F or above, dogs can also overheat or hurt themselves at cooler temperatures too:
- Depending on a combination of external environmental factors and your dog’s breed and health, dogs can start overheating in temperatures as low as 20° C / 68° F
- Surfaces are almost always hotter than the actual temperature
- Asphalt can start burning paw pads on sunny days in temperatures as low as 25° C / 77° F
- Surfaces can become 6° C – 25° C / 43° F – 77° F hotter than the actual temperature when it’s sunny
- To avoid paw pad burns, walking in the shade, especially on shaded grass, is the best
- Dogs can overheat at lower temperatures if there’s a higher humidity because it is harder for them to pant effectively.
- Brachycephalic or double-coated breeds can start overheating in temperatures as low as 23° C / 75° F
- Puppies, senior dogs, or dogs with compromised health issues are also more prone to overheating at lower temperatures too.
7 Dog Summer Safety Tips to Keep Your Dog From Overheating This Summer
While I spent most of the article talking about what makes it too hot for dogs, that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t take them out the entire summer!!
The reality is, there will be days when we will end up taking our dogs outside in the heat – whether it’s because we need to take them on their daily walk, visit friends, or head to the vet.
So here are 7 tips that you can use to help keep from burning their paws and overheating this summer:
1. Walk in the early morning or late evening when it is cooler
Try to walk either before 8:00 AM in the morning or after 8:00 PM in the evening. Not only will it be cooler, but the pavement and sidewalks will be too.
2. Choose shaded trails or trails with water
Shade can help dogs absorb less heat on their fur while also providing a cooler surface for their paws. Similarly, choosing trails with a water source and allowing your dogs to enter is a great way to keep the heat at bay.
3. Bring water – no matter how short your walk is
Even if you’re going for a ten-minute walk, I’d recommend bringing along some water for your dog to keep them hydrated and cool. On extra hot days, the extra water can also be used on their bodies to help release some of the body heat too.
4. Take shorter walks more often
Much like how you can shorten your walks in the winter when it gets too cold, you can shorten the duration of your walks in the summer. Opt for a higher interval (i.e. more frequent walks) and shorter duration to keep your dog from overheating.
5. Have your dog wear cooling clothing
Have you heard of cooling clothing for dogs? You can either soak these types of clothing in water and let evaporation do its work to cool dogs down, or even opt for reflective material to keep your dog from absorbing heat (kind of like a car shade!).
On hot and dry days, soaking evaporative cooling clothing in water is a great way to keep your dog cool. Nowadays, you can find soakable clothing in the form of bandanas, vests (this one by Hurtta comes highly recommended by various dog blogs), and hats too.
On hot and humid days, opt for a reflective summer coat – while the jackets don’t cool your dog down, these jackets help keep your dog from absorbing even more heat by reflecting the sun’s rays away from their bodies.
6. Avoid standing in one place for too long – especially on pavement
Remember that at 52° C / 125° F, it takes just 2 minutes for us to get seriously burned. This could happen to our dog’s paws too – so if you’re out on a hot day, try to keep your dog’s paws moving to minimize contact time with hot surfaces.
7. Protect the paws from heat
If your dog doesn’t mind wearing booties and you live in a concrete jungle, consider getting some summer booties for your pup. I’d recommend looking for booties made in breathable, lightweight materials like these dog booties from Muttluks that were designed specifically for the summer.
Note: If you use paw balms in the winter, you may assume that it’d protect your dog from the heat in the summer too – but most end up melting from the heat so they don’t offer much protection! However, they’re great for post-walk care to moisturize and heal dry, cracked paws!
Sources and Extra Reading
If you want to fact-check or learn more about some of the information used in this post, here are the links to the articles and posts I referenced while researching this topic – I hope you find them useful too!
- Heating and pain sensation produced in human skin by millimeter waves: comparison to a simple thermal model (Abstract)
- Weather Safety Scale developed as part of Tufts University’s Animal Condition and Care Scales
- Ontario Building Regulations
- Children at risk for accidental burns from hot tap water (Abstract)
- Determination of temperature differences between asphalt concrete, soil and grass surfaces of the City of Erzurum, Turkey (Paper)
- Temperature Reduction in Urban Surface Materials through Tree Shading Depends on Surface Type Not Tree Species (Paper)
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