When is it too hot to walk your dog? Plus expert tips to cool your canine down

The current heat wave is dangerous for our furry friends

A dog sat in a field in the sunshine
(Image credit: Getty Images)

As a heatwave sweeps across the UK, with temperatures reaching 40C in some areas, many are wondering if it's too hot to walk your dog.

We're all searching for ways to bear the heat this summer, whether it's how to keep your house cool (opens in new tab), how to cool down a baby (opens in new tab) or how to get to sleep in the heat (opens in new tab). But us humans aren't the only ones who have to deal with the hot weather, we've got our furry friends to think about too.

Although dogs should normally be walked everyday, they can't regulate their temperature in the same way that humans do, so hot temperatures can be deadly. We've spoken to the experts to find out what you should do when it's too hot to walk your dog.

When is it too hot to walk your dog?

Pet Insurance provider The Kennel Club (opens in new tab) states that once the temperature gets to 25°C, you should not walk your dog. According to Vets Now (opens in new tab), even temperatures as low as 20°C dogs can lead them to be at risk of heatstroke.

They add that it's best to take your dog out before 8am or after 8pm, when temperatures cool down, and to offer them plenty of fresh water and choose shaded areas if you can. 

A post shared by RSPCA England and Wales (@rspca_official) (opens in new tab)

A photo posted by on

Dogs are particularly vulnerable if they are overweight, very old or very young (under six months), high energy, have a longer and thicker coat, are a large breed (over 50kg), have pre-existing health conditions or are a breed with a shortened snout, such as bulldogs, pugs and mastiffs.

Dog walk temperature chart

See more

How do I know if it's too hot to walk my dog?

To work out whether it's too hot to walk your dog, you should feel the temperature of the pavement. If it's too hot for you to hold your hand or foot on, then it's too hot for your dog to walk on.

Niki French, professional dog trainer and blogger for Perfect Pet Insurance (opens in new tab), says "Pavements can retain a lot of heat. If you can’t stand comfortably in bare feet for at least 10 seconds, the surface is too hot for your dog’s paws."

Signs that your dog has burned its paws include limping or refusing to walk, licking or chewing at the feet or if their pads are blistered, red, or darker in colour. If you notice any of these signs you should take your dog to the vet.

Laura Steward, head veterinary nurse at Vet's Klinic (opens in new tab), says "Dogs will not suffer from missing a walk for a day or two, instead encourage mental exercise using puzzle feeders or offer frozen treats to occupy them."

Can dogs get heatstroke?

Yes, dogs can get heatstroke. According to Anna Webb (opens in new tab) - a pet expert who regularly contributes across national radio - dogs can get heatstroke in as little as 15 minutes.

Dr Samantha Butler-Davies, veterinary clinical services manager at Vets4Pets (opens in new tab), says "Dogs don’t sweat like we do, they cool themselves down by panting. But on really hot days, panting isn’t as effective and they need some help to cool down.

“If pets get too hot, they could suffer heatstroke, which can permanently damage their health. But there are simple steps you can take to keep your dogs, cats and small furries cool, comfortable and safe when the weather warms up."

According to the RSPCA (opens in new tab), signs that your dog might be suffering with heatstroke include:

  • Heavy panting
  • Excessive drooling
  • Vomiting
  • Collapsing
  • If your dog appears lethargic, drowsy or uncoordinated.

Dr Scott Miller, resident vet on ITV's This Morning and brand ambassador for Barking Heads (opens in new tab) pet food, says "If you think your pet may be in extreme distress from the heat, I recommend contacting your local vet for advice and they can then decide on the best course of action to take for your dog, as it is then a serious situation."

A post shared by The Kennel Club UK (@thekennelclubuk) (opens in new tab)

A photo posted by on

How to keep dogs cool in hot weather:

✅ Keep your dog hydrated by making sure their water bowls are topped up with clean water. Vets4Pets offer a word of caution saying "Gulping down too much water at once can be dangerous for dogs. While a full bowl shouldn’t cause a problem, keep an eye on them if playing in a pool, river, or stream and move them on if you think they’ve had their fill."

✅ Provide plenty of shade. Pet food brand Natural Instinct (opens in new tab) adds that you could invest in a cooling mat or and ice packs for extra comfort.

✅ Try giving your dog an ice cube to chew on or freezing their favourite toy. Vets4Pets says "Always make sure the ice-cube is an appropriate size for the size of your dog and supervise them while they’re enjoying their treat."

✅ Apply dog-friendly sunscreen to the tips of your dog's nose and any other exposed skin

❌ Shave your dogs fur. Dr Scott Miller says "It's very important not to shave your dog's fur as this acts as an insulator; keeping your pet warm in the winter and cool in the summer." However, he adds that regular grooming can help dogs regulate their temperature.

❌ Leave your dog in a car. You should also avoid travelling with a dog in your car on a hot day. Battersea Dogs and Cats Home (opens in new tab) says if you do need to travel with your dog, you should use shade covers on the windows, have the air conditioning on before putting your dog in, ensure your dog has access to water, avoid travelling at hotter times of the day and consider travelling when there is less traffic, so you don’t get stuck for long periods of time. 

Video of the Week

Ellie Hutchings
Ellie Hutchings

Ellie joined Goodto as a Junior Features Writer in 2022 after finishing her Master’s in Magazine Journalism at Nottingham Trent University. Previously, she completed successful work experience placements with BBC Good Food, The Big Issue and the Nottingham Post, and freelanced as an arts and entertainment writer alongside her studies. In 2021, Ellie graduated from Cardiff University with a first-class degree in Journalism.