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Is there a general guideline for warm weather activity? I know all dogs are individuals and will react differently to heat, but I've not been able to find a good starting point.

Is there a temperature or heat index above which dogs shouldn't go out for more than potty breaks? A range where moderate exercise (e.g., walking) with water breaks every 15 minutes or so is ok? A temperature below which most dogs should be safe?

My dog starts to pant before we reach the end of the drive no matter what the temperature, so it's hard to judge her comfort.

Thanks!
 

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I cannot give exact temps but can tell you what I do as a general rule.

I do not walk or exercise my dogs in the heat of the day. I do this right before or a bit after sunrise or sunset. I also like cool evening walks in the summer. Hot roads and other hot surfaces can burn foot pads. Dehydration and heat stroke can be life threatening in very hot weather.

I have allowed the dogs to swim in the heat of the day but for short periods of time and then to dry off in the shade and back indoors they go for a bit. I also supply fresh water and keep ice cubes in it as well for we use our deck with an umbrella in very hot weather. I give out ice cubes as treats. I allow the dogs outside 10 minutes at a time whenever it is above 80 degrees. I may be overly cautious ? ......

Dogs without a double coat or shaved dogs can get skin cancer and sunburn as well. I never allow my Schnauzer/Poodles in the direct sun for extended periods of time. Also ... black dogs heat up quickly in the sun.
 

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Is there a general guideline for warm weather activity? I know all dogs are individuals and will react differently to heat, but I've not been able to find a good starting point.
There ARE general guidelines. They are dependent on the heat index - not just the temperature. Although the heat index was set up for humans - who handle heat differently from dogs - it is still a useful indicator. These are the guidelines we follow for outdoor trials,matches, training, etc..

Is there a temperature or heat index above which dogs shouldn't go out for more than potty breaks?
Heat Index of 100F (or higher) is the danger zone for dogs. Keep them in a cool place and avoid all outside activity except for necessary things like potty breaks.


A range where moderate exercise (e.g., walking) with water breaks every 15 minutes or so is ok?
Heat Index 90F- 100F: Extreme Caution even with moderate activity(single trial run, single track, etc). Keep a close watch for any signs of heat stroke.

Heat Index 80F - 90 F: Moderate activity is generally OK but still watch out for signs of heat stroke.

In addition to drinking water - as much as the dog wants - have a spray bottle with you and wet down the dog's chest and muzzle - NOT his back or his head. If a water source is available (hose, faucet, stream, whatever), use it with the same parameters.


A temperature below which most dogs should be safe?
Heat Index (NOT temperature) below 80F - but still provide drinking water - and an occasional wet-down as above if it is in the upper 70's

My dog starts to pant before we reach the end of the drive no matter what the temperature, so it's hard to judge her comfort.
Learn the signs of heat stroke.

Panting is how dogs cool off - it is akin to human sweating (dogs actually do sweat, but very limited). It doesn't mean the dog is overheating.

Aggravating factors (use more caution)

  • Activities in full sun
  • Puppies under six months
  • Older dogs
  • Brachycephalic dogs (pugs, bulldogs, boxers, etc)
  • Dogs with history of airway obstruction
 

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There ARE general guidelines. They are dependent on the heat index - not just the temperature. Although the heat index was set up for humans - who handle heat differently from dogs - it is still a useful indicator. These are the guidelines we follow for outdoor trials,matches, training, etc..




Heat Index of 100F (or higher) is the danger zone for dogs. Keep them in a cool place and avoid all outside activity except for necessary things like potty breaks.




Heat Index 90F- 100F: Extreme Caution even with moderate activity(single trial run, single track, etc). Keep a close watch for any signs of heat stroke.

Heat Index 80F - 90 F: Moderate activity is generally OK but still watch out for signs of heat stroke.

In addition to drinking water - as much as the dog wants - have a spray bottle with you and wet down the dog's chest and muzzle - NOT his back or his head. If a water source is available (hose, faucet, stream, whatever), use it with the same parameters.




Heat Index (NOT temperature) below 80F - but still provide drinking water - and an occasional wet-down as above if it is in the upper 70's



Learn the signs of heat stroke.

Panting is how dogs cool off - it is akin to human sweating (dogs actually do sweat, but very limited). It doesn't mean the dog is overheating.

Aggravating factors (use more caution)

  • Activities in full sun
  • Puppies under six months
  • Older dogs
  • Brachycephalic dogs (pugs, bulldogs, boxers, etc)
  • Dogs with history of airway obstruction

I believe all this information would make a great sticky. :) ... especially for a first time pet owner.

A friend of one of my Sister's did not know better and severely burned his dogs foot pads two summers ago by walking him in the middle of a very hot summer day on asphalt. :/
 

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All very useful information. I have a black dog - should these same guidelines apply or should I be even more cautious?
 

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I agree with Poly in general, with some additions:
1. It is highly dependent on location: 100 degrees in Florida is different than Dallas, which is different than Phoenix.
2. It depends on the dog - both the the breed and the conditioning.

I walk my dog in Texas cold and heat for 30 min. every day. He's an 11 yo Lab mix with a medium coat. He loves when the temperature is below 40 degrees, and he starts to slow down as the temperature rises above 70 degrees. When the temperature is unseasonably warm over 90 degrees in Feb. or March, then he gets tired quickly (read: overheated, but more fatigued than dangerous). However, when it's 110 in August, he's conditioned to the heat and he's fine as long as he can find shade to romp in. Note - 110 in the shade is still 110 ... but it's more than that in the sun.

I judge his comfort by his tongue and his tail. If his tail is up, then he's OK, and if it droops then he's hot. Similarly, if he's panting then he's OK, unless his tongue is spread wide, then he's hot.

This is different for other people and dogs. A Chihuahua may take the heat better (so can a saluki?). And you can't trust a pup (maybe under 2 yo?) to be able to judge when it's getting too hot.

BTW, I don't walk my dog on asphalt, but I do walk him in the hot street. However, he gets 3 or more months to build up his pads. Doesn't seem to be a problem...
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thank you so much! Poly & Hanksimon - That is exactly the kind of information I was looking for. Pardon the gushing, but this place really is the best! I know I can find answers to my endless questions here. :)
 

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this is fantastic, Thank you for this information! What about sunscreen ... I was thinking of posting a thread for it, but Loki only has one coat and is white, you can see his skin for the most part .... does anyone recommend like a kids sunscreen on him on sunny days (we have very little shade in our yard and where we walk) ... or is it like everything else, just pay attention?
 

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Just some follow-up points here:

In case you missed it (I think some of you may have) the guidelines refer to HEAT INDEX, not temperarure. The Heat Index takes into account physiological factors - so a Heat Index of 100F in Miami is physiologically the same as a Heat Index of 100F in Phoenix - or anywhere else.

Dark-colored dogs (and we have two of them) follow the same guidelines, but you will probably find that you will be cooling them off more often.

From people who own them (I don't myself), hairless dogs and dogs with extremely sparse coats like some sighthounds do need a sunscreen. I've never used one on my dogs.

Keep in mind that activity in full sun is an aggravating factor.

An aggravating factor that I didn't mention is strong winds in hot, dry air (santa ana winds, sundowners). We don't get such things in places we frequent, but some places do get them.
 

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Oh man, according to these guidelines my dog won't be allowed outside at all during the summer? Most of last summer our heat index was above 100. :/
 

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Even if it's just 25 degrees, I always let Butters walk on the curbside grass rather than the sidewalk. Their pads just look so sensitive :( Sometimes with asphalt, even if it's not blistering hot, you can still fry an egg on it :S
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Sorry to dredge up an old thread, but I referenced it to plan our evening walk and had a question.

In addition to drinking water - as much as the dog wants - have a spray bottle with you and wet down the dog's chest and muzzle - NOT his back or his head. If a water source is available (hose, faucet, stream, whatever), use it with the same parameters.
Why not wet the back and head? Yesterday, my husband was pouring water over our dog's head and back. I wanted to tell him not to, but knew he'd ask why. I have a few theories, but wanted to check with experts :)
 

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I'm interested in this, too. It's hot 24/7/365 here. But we usually walk in the 90 degree range, humidity is always gigh. No AC, so maybe we all take it better.


Sorry to dredge up an old thread, but I referenced it to plan our evening walk and had a question.



Why not wet the back and head? Yesterday, my husband was pouring water over our dog's head and back. I wanted to tell him not to, but knew he'd ask why. I have a few theories, but wanted to check with experts :)
 

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I would think it's more the coat thickness. Wetting a thicker coat on a dog's back would cause it to be clingy and humid and maybe trap more heat?
 

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... on the other hand, years ago, my Vet recommended that I soak my shirt and head, as well as the entire dog before we go for a walk, and the evaporation would cool us during the dry, 100 degree heat ??? (I've never tried that, doesn't sound comfortable...)
 

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I would think it's more the coat thickness. Wetting a thicker coat on a dog's back would cause it to be clingy and humid and maybe trap more heat?
Exactly.

We're looking for evaporation from the skin, not wet hair. For dogs with heavy, oily coats (Labs, for example), water on the back- where the coat is generally thicker - tends to remain above the skin on the coat itself. Instead of acting for cooling, it actually acts to hold the heat in. Although many dogs will shake a lot of it off, not all of it.

That caution was lifted from advice for Labs in hot weather. Don't know how essential it would be for other dogs, but it certainly wouldn't hurt.
 

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Exactly.

We're looking for evaporation from the skin, not wet hair. For dogs with heavy, oily coats (Labs, for example), water on the back- where the coat is generally thicker - tends to remain above the skin on the coat itself. Instead of acting for cooling, it actually acts to hold the heat in. Although many dogs will shake a lot of it off, not all of it.

That caution was lifted from advice for Labs in hot weather. Don't know how essential it would be for other dogs, but it certainly wouldn't hurt.
Thanks for the explanation!
 

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It is so humid all the time- literally never get a break from it in the Amamzon Rainforest- I'm pretty sure this won't work for us. Nothing dries unless it is in direct sun for hours.

Exactly.

We're looking for evaporation from the skin, not wet hair. For dogs with heavy, oily coats (Labs, for example), water on the back- where the coat is generally thicker - tends to remain above the skin on the coat itself. Instead of acting for cooling, it actually acts to hold the heat in. Although many dogs will shake a lot of it off, not all of it.

That caution was lifted from advice for Labs in hot weather. Don't know how essential it would be for other dogs, but it certainly wouldn't hurt.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Since the temperatures (and humidity) are rising in some areas, I thought I'd bump this post. Lots of great information, especially from Poly and Hanksimon.
 
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