Heat stroke, or hyperthermia, is not uncommon for our furry friends in the summer months. You might think it won’t happen to your pup, especially if they’re acclimated to the outdoors, but unfortunately it does happen. If dogs are left outside or in a hot car for an extended period of time, no amount of panting can cool them down. So, how much summer heat can a dog tolerate?

How Hot is too Hot?

In general, with plenty of water, air circulation and shade, most dogs will probably do okay in warm temperatures up to about 85˚F. However, there is no set in stone rule about a temperature limit.

Dogs do not sweat like we do. They can only sweat through their paw pads which means that their primary means of cooling themselves off is through panting, but this can be difficult for certain breeds or obese dogs.

The chart below will help you decide if it’s safe for your pet to spend time outside in the summertime.

Note: This chart is not to determine if it is safe to leave your dog in the car. The temperature in your car is not the same as the temperature outside. Never leave a dog unattended in a vehicle.

Which Dog Breeds Can’t Tolerate Heat Well?

Brachycephalic dog breeds cannot cool themselves as easily through panting. A brachycephalic dog is one that has a flattened face and a shorter nose. The skull abnormalities cause the nasal bones to be extremely short, or even absent, which results in breathing problems.

Examples of breeds that are brachycephalic include bulldogs, boxers, Boston terriers, pekingese, pugs, lhasa apsos, shih tzus, and bull mastiffs.

Dog breeds that originated in cold climates typically have a harder time adjusting to the heat. These dog breeds include malamutes, huskies, newfoundlands, bernese mountain dogs and leonbergers.

Until you know your own dog's tolerance to heat, you should avoid leaving him/her unsupervised.

How Can I Cool My Dog Down?

There are several things you can do to keep your dog cool in the summertime:

  • Add ice cubes to the water dish.

  • Offer an ice pack or wet towel to lay on.

  • Purchase a cooling dog bed.

  • Offer access to a wading pool with shallow, cool water.

  • Offer access to cool shade.

  • Bring a water dish on your walks.

  • Replace a portion of their regular diet with canned food (it has a higher water content).

  • Avoid walking on hot pavement. Early morning or evening playtimes, exercise, and walks are best.

  • Make your dog some homemade frozen treats.

One of the most important things to do is to observe your dog during the hottest times of the day. If any signs of heat stroke or other illness appear, contact a vet right away. Remember to take the proper steps to keep your dog safe all summer long.

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