While we long for days in the sun with our dog, some summer days can really take it too far and can be too hot to walk our dogs safely. Like us, dogs are vulnerable to heat stroke but can’t regulate their body temperature as well as humans…well, some of us Brits also struggle quite a bit with that. 

With the summer coming along, you probably have a couple of questions: when is it too hot to walk your dog? How will you know? What do you do if your dog gets too hot? Do they still need exercise when it’s baking outside?

No need to stress. In this article, we’ll tell you all about it. We’ll go over when it’s too hot to walk your dog and how to figure that out, why walking your dog in the heat isn’t a good idea, and what happens to your dog when they get too hot. We’ll also give you tips on things you can do with your dog when it’s too hot to walk outside, and how to keep your dog cool in hot weather. 

While you’re reading, why not download the Zigzag puppy training app? You’ll get access to a personalised training programme for your pup based on their age and breed. You’ll also have access to a team of professional puppy trainers who are more than happy to help you with any of your burning questions. Pun intended.

dog lying on decking
Photo by Hans Ott on Unsplash

When is it too hot to walk my dog?

Temperatures above 30 degrees Celsius are not suitable for dog walking, and anything above 20 degrees may also be too hot, depending on your dog’s age, breed, health, coat type, and walking location. There’s a lot to think about when working out if it’s too hot to walk your dog.

When it comes to location, green, shady spaces like forests with access to rivers and streams are a lot more suitable on a 20 degrees day, rather than an open park without any trees for shade.  

If you live in a cool climate, and it suddenly gets very warm, your dog won’t have enough time to get used to such extreme weather – it can actually come as a bit of a shock to them. Brachycephalic breeds such as Frenchies and Pugs, who naturally struggle to breathe, will struggle with extreme heat. Dogs with very thick coats or who are bred to live in cold climates like Huskies won’t find it easy to adapt either.

Why can’t I walk my dog in hot temperatures?

Walking your dog in hot weather can be dangerous as dogs are more susceptible to heatstroke, dehydration, burnt paws, and respiratory problems. Dogs pant to cool themselves down, which is not a very efficient way of regulating their temperature in the first place, and can therefore easily overheat.

When dogs are hot, they typically slow down and become lethargic – think of all the stray and street dogs you see in hot countries. They’re not out playing fetch or running around are they? They’re often just lying on the street, only raising their heads up occasionally. By taking your dog out for a walk, what we’re really asking of them is to exercise when they would ordinarily choose to snooze the day away.

dog laying in field
Photo by Gary Sandoz on Unsplash

What happens if my dog gets too hot?

When a dog gets too hot, they will show signs that they are overheating. 

These signs include:

How should I exercise my dog if it’s too hot?

No walks, no worries! You can still exercise your dog on hot days without sweating them out. Walk at cooler times of the day, use enrichment toys, do positive reinforcement training, puppy parkour, and play games, so your dog gets the mental and physical exercise they need to stay healthy.

The safest time to walk on a hot day is first thing in the morning before the sun has had a chance to heat the ground up. Cooler evenings can also work, but make sure it’s no longer sunny as the air temperature can still be very high, and the pavements very hot to walk on. You definitely want to do what you can to prevent your dog from getting heat stress or heatstroke.

How to keep my dog cool in hot weather

To keep your dog cool in hot weather, the easiest way is to stay out of the sun. If you’re staying indoors, keep a fan or air conditioning running during the hottest part of the day. Here are some more tips on keeping your dog cool when it’s too hot to walk them:

Stay at home

This is obvious really, but when it’s too hot to walk your dog, don’t be tempted to take them out. It’s risky, and you can still have lots of fun indoors. Just walk them when it’s cooler – it’s much better for everyone.

Get a paddling pool for the garden

If you have a garden, a kids hard sided paddling pool can be a lovely place for your dog to have a cooling dip. Just be aware that the water will warm up if in the sunshine, so it’s likely to turn into a bit of a bath.

Stick to the shade

If you’re taking your dog for a walk, and it’s warm (not hot – honestly, just stay inside or at home if it’s really hot!) then opt for a walk in the forest and shady areas, and just sit in the shade and relax. Your dog will still be out and about, learning about the world, without having to march for long periods in the heat.

Go swimming

If you need to get out with your dog, go somewhere that your dogs can also go for a safe dip in a stream or river. Be careful about swimming for long periods though, dogs can swallow a lot of water when swimming, which can be dangerous if taken too far. 

We’ve got plenty of good advice on teaching your puppy how to swim in our article here if you want to know more.

Walk at cooler times of the day

The hottest part of the day is when the sun’s rays are most present – usually between 10 and 4pm. However, it’s likely that the outdoors will continue to get warmer into the evening. It’s just the weird way it works – don’t ask us why. High humidity can also make the air feel hotter, so really the best time to walk your dog is first thing in the morning before the sun has had a chance to warm everything up.

Get a portable air cooler or at least a fan

Aaah – air conditioning. If you live in a warm climate you might already have this, but due to global warming it’s also becoming an issue in more temperate climates when we start to experience more extreme levels of heat (even the UK…can you believe it?). 

A portable air cooler, an air conditioning unit, or at least a fan will allow air to circulate and keep your dog (and yourself) from losing your mind, and staying cool as a cucumber.

Make pupsicles and frozen treats

Cooking for your dog is fun, but in the summer months, let’s go for the cooler option, like pupsicles or frozen kefir treats. Anyone enjoys a cooling treat on a hot day – your dog will too.

We hope that’s helped you figure out the famous summer question: when is it too hot to walk my dog? It’s important to pay attention to the temperature and humidity levels when making up your mind on whether it’s too hot to walk your dog. As a general rule, if you feel hot, it’s going to feel very hot for your dog. Walking in hot temperatures can increase the risk of heatstroke, dehydration, and other heat-related illnesses. Dogs can’t cool themselves down as effectively or quickly as we can, so you have to be extra careful to keep them healthy. 

There are several signs that your dog may be feeling too hot, including heavy panting, excessive drooling, lethargy, reluctance to walk or stopping and lying down on walks. Hot pavements can even cause burns on paw pads. Have you ever felt hot sand burn your feet on a hot day at the beach? It’s kind of like that. Let’s not make them go through it. If your dog shows any of these signs, it’s best not to walk them until it cools down.

When it’s too hot to go for walks, there are plenty of other ways to exercise your dog, such as indoor playtime and games, enrichment and brain games, swimming or finding a shady area for relaxation and downtime.

For more information on things to do with your dog when it’s too hot to walk, check out our puppy brain games article or have a look in our training games library
The Zigzag app also has heaps more ideas for things to do with your dog not only on hot summer days, but year around – especially when it’s pouring outside. This is something we’re much more used to in the UK, aren’t we? It’s all positive reinforcement based as well, so you can be sure you and your dog will be having fun at all times. We also have our team of professional dog trainers, they’ll give you some ideas of fun things to do and help you figure out if it’s too hot to walk your dog. Just drop them a line via our in-app chat and prepare to be surprised at their speedy and knowledgeable responses.