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, how to cool down a baby or how to get to sleep in the heat. 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 just like it can be too cold to walk your dog, hot temperatures can be deadly to our furry friends. 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 states that once the temperature gets to 25°C, you should not walk your dog. According to Vets Now, 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. 

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

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, 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, 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 - 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, 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, 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 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."

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 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 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. 

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Ellie Hutchings
Family News Editor

Ellie is GoodtoKnow’s Family News Editor and covers all the latest trends in the parenting world - from relationship advice and baby names to wellbeing and self-care ideas for busy mums. Ellie is also an NCTJ-qualified journalist and has a distinction in MA Magazine Journalism from Nottingham Trent University and a first-class degree in Journalism from Cardiff University. Previously, Ellie has worked with BBC Good Food, The Big Issue, and the Nottingham Post, as well as freelancing as an arts and entertainment writer alongside her studies. When she’s not got her nose in a book, you’ll probably find Ellie jogging around her local park, indulging in an insta-worthy restaurant, or watching Netflix’s newest true crime documentary.