Heat Safety for Dogs

June 10, 2022

As we near the middle of the year, Houston’s heat has already begun to leave everyone searching for the closest air conditioned space. Your pup is likely to feel the same about the extreme temperatures, but aren’t able to verbally express their discomfort to you on their daily outings. As dog trainers, we are constantly trying to beat the heat’s safety concerns while effectively working with dogs in public environments. We will share all our tricks to keep your pet active, healthy, and happy as the daily highs continue to rise.

How hot is too hot?

Pavement, sand, and even dirt can hold heat and reach temperatures much higher than the weather reports when exposed to direct sunlight for long periods of time. Some estimates show that asphalt can be almost 50° hotter than air temperatures. The quickest way we can check to see if surfaces are too hot for our dogs is to see if it is too hot for you! Place your palm (or foot) flat on the surface in question. If you cannot keep contact for more than 10 seconds comfortably, the surface is too hot for your dog’s feet. We recommend walking on shaded, touch-tested pavements, or grass as you take your pup out.

How can you tell if your dog is overheating?

dog at Houston park

When dogs are exposed to heat for too long, heat stress or heat stroke can occur if not monitored and treated properly. Dogs will typically begin to show signs of heat stress through body language and certain behaviors, such as:

  • Seeking shade
  • Excessive salivation
  • Panting heavily
  • Sitting, laying down, or otherwise restricting movement
  • Ears, nose, mouth, feet, and other parts of the body becoming more red in color

How do I cool my dog down?

As with humans, it is easier for dogs to stay cool when preventative measures are taken, rather than overheating then trying to cool off.

Know where to go

Before you take your pup out, scope out places that are summer safe! Find a dog park with shaded trails, splash pads, and other water access. If your dog enjoys shopping with you, look into pet-friendly stores to stay out of the sun and remain cool in the AC.

Water, water, water!

Staying hydrated is just as important for your pup as it is for you, but finding a place to let your pup stop and get a drink may not feel as readily available. Doggy water bottles are the perfect solution to make sure your pet can have their thirst quenched anytime! All bottles listed below also reduce wasting water; when your dog is done drinking, the water can be returned back into the bottle to save every last drop.

  • The lesotc Pet Water Bottle has a bowl made of soft material that folds down onto itself for compact carrying and easy use. Just squeeze the bottle to fill the bowl.
  • The PupFlask Large Dog Water Bottle has a stainless steel body with silicon leaf that flips outwards to create a reservoir for gravity to pull water into when turned. This bottle has larger sizes for more carrying capacity, ideal for large dogs who need large amounts of water throughout the day.
  • The PETKIT Dog Water Bottle has a carbon filter built in! Simply unlock the spill-proof bottle by turning the water dispenser and locking button and let gravity filter purified water into the bowl for your pup.

Water isn’t only for drinking!

For times when you and your pup must hop from pockets of shade between longer stretches of sun, pour water over their back, chest, neck and head. Cupping water in your hand before petting and distributing over the body can help dog’s who may shy away from water being poured on them. Re-apply every 5 minutes or as the water starts to evaporate.

Cool down treats

What would a hot summer be without icy snacks? Your pet can enjoy the tasty way of cooling down by eating doggy ice cream or pet safe broth pupsicles! Many pet stores have a frozen section for doggy ice creams with fruity or peanut buttery flavors your pup will love. If your dog loves meaty snacks, the same pet store will likely have broths with low sodium content that can be frozen in popsicle trays. Try out one of the “Summer Treats for Dogs” recipes we rounded up!

Water features, pools and splash pads

If you are not near a park with water features, you don’t have to be left out of the fun splash pads have to offer. Head to a store near you and use a plastic kiddie pool to put in your backyard! Tossing in a few handfuls of ice can also be fun for your dog to go bobbing-for-cubes!

Relax and reenergize

Have a dog who searches for cold tile to put their belly on? These surfaces can now be accessible anywhere with cooling pads. These pads are made with a pressure activated gel that cools when your pet stands or lays on it. The pad can stay chilled for hours, and does not require electricity, water, or refrigeration. It will self charge in times without use!

Being active with your dog in hot and humid Houston can be done safely, you just have to know how your dog prefers to cool off. Try 3-4 of these methods next time you go out and remember that it is possible to have fun in the sun!