Top Tips for Walking Your Dog in Hot Weather

Published: 7/6/2021
It’s summertime! If you could, you’d stay to stay indoors until autumn to evade the scorching heat, but… your dog still needs to be walked even when it’s hot. Here are eight tips to keep your furry friend safe when stepping outside during warm weather.


#1 Avoid the hottest parts of the day.
Walk your pup early in the morning and/or later in the evening when it’s cooler. Not only is walking at noon or in the afternoon uncomfortable, but it also increases your dog’s risk of suffering from heatstroke and burned paw pads. If your pup is used to walking three to four times a day, replace their midday strolls with indoor activities and make their morning and evening walks a little longer to ensure they still get adequate exercise.


#2 Always take water with you.
Even if you’re going to a park or trail that you know is equipped with a drinking fountain, it’s better to play it safe by bringing your own water. Bring enough for both you and your pup, and remember to offer your furry pal a drink every now and then. You probably want to carry as few things as possible when walking your dog, but trust us—this is something that you don’t want to leave home without!


#3 Seek shady routes.

If your dog’s normal walking route doesn’t provide much cover from the sun, consider changing courses. Try to find a walking trail that’s lined with trees, or plan a new route that includes more shady spots. This is also a good opportunity to switch things up, as dogs can get bored walking the same route day in and day out. So not only do you avoid the sun, but your pooch will also get to experience new sights, sounds, and smells.


#4 Check surfaces.
Before walking your four-legged friend, check the ground with your own hand or bare foot. Surfaces such as asphalt and sand tend to heat up under the sun; if you can’t keep your hand or foot on the ground for more than three seconds, then it’s too hot for your dog’s paws. In that case, postpone the walk to later in the evening when the weather has cooled down.


#5 Take it easy.
Hold off on your plans to run or cycle with your dog; now is not the time for vigorous activities. When temperatures rise, slow and steady is the way to go. Let your pooch sniff things during walks—this also gives them a chance to engage in their natural instincts, as sniffing is one primary way our canine friends gather information about the world. In fact, smell is just as important as sight for our dogs!


#6 Apply sunscreen.
Dogs get sunburned too! While a sunburn may not seem as painful for them, it can lead to more serious conditions such as certain types of skin cancer. Dogs who have very little hair, white or thin coats, and light-pigmented eyelids and noses are more prone to sunburn. Be sure to use a sunscreen that’s made especially for canines; human formulas contain zinc oxide and PABA, which are toxic to dogs when ingested.


#7 Groom regularly.
Grooming your pup regularly helps keep them comfortable in warmer weather. Frequent brushing removes any dead or excess hair and makes their coat less dense, which in turn helps them stay cool. This applies to pups with short coats as well, so don’t furget to give your best friend a good brushing consistently. Do not shave off their coat, though, as doing so will make them more susceptible to sunburn.


#8 Take shorter dog walks for flat-faced dogs.
Brachycephalic breeds such as Pugs, Boxers, Bulldogs, and Boston Terriers have a more difficult time breathing and staying cool in hot weather, putting them at a higher risk of overheating. Dogs who are older, overweight, or have a thick coat are also more vulnerable. If your pooch falls under any of these categories, keep their walks short and add indoor activities to their daily routine to prevent boredom.


#9 Know the signs of heatstroke.
Heatstroke is a life-threatening condition; signs include but are not limited to heavy panting, excessive drooling, vomiting, lethargy, staggering, collapsing, and a bright red tongue. If you suspect your dog is suffering from a heatstroke, transfer them to a cooler environment right away and apply or spray cool water (not ice water) to their ears, abdomen, and paw pads. Then take them to the vet immediately, even if they seem to be getting better.

Walking your four-legged pal in hot weather doesn’t have to be an unpleasant experience. A little extra care and planning goes a long way in helping your pooch enjoy their summer walks!