School’s out, summer’s here and dogs are begging to play. When temperatures rise, playtime isn’t as simple as letting Cooper into the yard and calling it a day. Even walks can become dangerous on very hot days. So, how hot is too hot to walk a dog? We consulted three vets with expertise in this area. Based on their advice, if it’s over 80 degrees, you should adjust your walk routine. Once it reaches 100, it’s too hot out for most dogs.
How Hot Is Too Hot to Walk a Dog?
Plus products to keep your pup cool and calm
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Meet the Experts
How Hot Is Too Hot to Walk a Dog?
Generally speaking, if it’s over 80 degrees outside, you’ve got to keep a closer eye on your dog and adjust your walk routine. Dr. Lindsay Butzer, DVM and a partner with PetMeds, told us, “If the weather is getting toasty where you live, from 80 to 90, to even 100 degrees, you may want to start going on short walks.”
Dr. Caos, DVM at The Vets, agreed: “If the temperature exceeds 80 degrees (26 degrees Celsius), it may be too hot for most dogs to engage in vigorous exercise or prolonged walks.” Dogs who live in hot climates year-round may acclimate to high heat quickly, while those who spend winters trudging through snow will need more time to adjust.
Midwestern climates known for summertime humidity can make hot days feel even hotter (and stickier). Dr. Grant Little, DVM and an expert veterinarian for JustAnswer, said high humidity “can lead to intense heat for a pet very quickly.” Even if it says 80 on the thermostat, it could feel more like 90 to your dog if the air is thick.
How hot is too hot also depends on your dog. “Determining the specific temperature at which it becomes too hot to walk a dog can vary based on several factors, including breed, age [and] overall health,” Dr. Caos said. “Dogs can be more sensitive to high temperatures than humans. They can quickly become overheated, especially when exposed to direct sunlight or in environments with high humidity.”
How to Walk Your Dog in Hot Weather
Start at a slower pace than normal and take a short route when it’s hot outside. Dr. Lindsay, as she is known on her TikTok and YouTube channels, said a few minutes just to get their business out of the way is good, especially if there’s an unexpected heat wave and you haven’t had time to work up to a lengthy summertime walk.
“If it just started warming up outside or your pets are not accustomed to long walks, then the first few [hot walks] can lead to extreme heat exhaustion until they can build up that stamina,” Dr. Little said, and reminded dog owners not to venture too far, as you still have to make your way back home. Sticking to the shady side of the street is also wise.
Dr. Caos told us that adjusting when and how you walk your dog can help, too. “Consider rescheduling walks for cooler times of the day or providing alternative forms of exercise when the weather is excessively hot.” Peak heat hours are between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. If you can get walks in during the early morning and evening, rather than high noon when the sun is at its hottest, your dog will thank you.
Alternative exercise could mean anything from brain-boosting treat puzzles to indoor play sessions. Do you have stairs your dog is allowed to bolt up and down on? Toss the ball into the basement for indoor fetch. If your dog begs to go outside for playtime, try placing a plastic baby pool full of cold hose water in the yard and filling it with some balls and toys.
Taking breaks is highly encouraged—if not mandatory. Your dog may not signal when they need to rest, so incorporating lots of small breaks into the walk ensures Cooper can catch his breath before moving on. This is also a good time to really check in with your dog to make sure he’s not displaying signs of heat stroke.
Signs of Heat Stroke in Dogs
“Dogs are more susceptible to heat-related issues than humans due to their limited ability to cool themselves down,” Dr. Caos told us. So, it’s up to us, their guardians and BFFs, to watch for signs of heat stroke and exhaustion in hot weather.
Panting is a dog’s primary cooling tool. “Panting allows dogs to evaporate moisture from their respiratory tract, helping to regulate their body temperature,” said Dr. Caos. However, excessive panting is a sign things may be too hot.
“A dog with heatstroke will look distressed, be panting heavily to try to cool themselves down,” Dr. Lindsay said. “Most of the time they will lie down since they are too weak to stand.”
Feel your dog’s ears and skin, as these tend to heat up when a dog’s overall body temperature is too hot (like foreheads and people). Is your dog drooling way more than normal? This could be a sign of heat stroke.
Once you administer some cooling techniques (see below), these symptoms should abate quickly. If they don’t, seek emergency medical attention ASAP.
“Heatstroke fevers can come and go throughout the day!” Dr. Lindsay said. “Pets [with heat stroke] need 24-hour care, IV fluids, oxygen… and possibly antibiotics.” Though on average dogs recover in a few days, severe cases can take up to 10 days to recover from.
How to Keep Your Dog Cool on Hot Days
Keeping your dog cool is very important. If you notice signs of heat stroke or exhaustion, immediately find a shady spot and give your dog water and a cold towel, if possible. (It’s imperative you bring water and a portable bowl with you on all walks on hot days.) Like people, dogs get dehydrated more easily on hot days.
“Cold towels are critical and can be a lifesaver if your dog goes into heat exhaustion and has internal temperatures rising sharply, especially if they were trapped in the heat for too long,” said Dr. Lindsay.
At home, Dr. Lindsay recommends an indoor temperature of 74 degrees or below. If you have A/C, excellent. If not, equip your home with plenty of fans and make sure your dog has a breeze and water throughout the day.
Invest in the following gear to ensure walks and hang time with your pup are cool and safe.
5 Hot-Weather Products to Keep Your Dog Safe
1. Prima Pets Collapsible Travel Bowl with Carabiner
The large version of this collapsible bowl holds five cups of water. Since more water is always better on hot days, go for this budget-friendly big travel bowl! It weighs just a few inches and collapses to half an inch thick, so carrying it around is a cinch. Plus, the carabiner makes it easy to attach to leashes, belt loops or purse straps.
For Avoiding Heat Stroke
2. GF Pet Elastofit Ice Dog Vest
On very hot days, it might seem counterintuitive to put a vest on your dog, but this one keeps their temperature regulated. Simply run it through cold water, squeeze out the excess and put it on your dog. It won’t be snug (buy the right size for your pup), but it will keep them cool and protect them from harmful UV rays. The vest is super lightweight and runs from extra small to 4XL.
For Hot Pavement
3. Wicked Pup Disposable Pet Booties for Dogs & Cats
If the pavement is too hot for you, it’s too hot for your dog’s paws. Protect their paw pads with these disposable booties that are water-resistant, breathable and non-skid. Pro tip: Check out our full list of excellent dog boots and our advice on measuring dog paws.
4. The Green Pet Shop Cool Pet Pad
On especially hot days, carry a self-cooling travel mat with you for your pup to use during breaks (or if he starts to get too hot). This one folds up easily and doesn’t require any accessories to work. It’s pressure activated and comes in many sizes.
5. COOLAROO Original Cooling Elevated Dog Bed
If you don’t have a cooling dog bed, get on it! These are summer essentials you’ll want your dog to have access to on hot days - indoors and outside.