Dogs can be very sensitive to temperatures, and certain breeds are even more so than others. Regardless of what kind of dog you have, it’s important to be aware of how your dog is acting on cold and hot days. In this blog, we will discuss some things to avoid and what steps you can take to keep your dog safe.
First, we need to talk about temperature itself. Humidity, windchill, and cloud coverage can all make temperatures feel much higher or lower than than it actually is. For example, anyone who has spent time in the north knows that it doesn’t feel that bad when it’s 32˚ F. But when you throw in that windchill it makes 32˚ F feel like it’s 25˚ F, and that makes a big difference. And the same goes for humidity. If it’s 85˚ F degrees with 80% humidity, the air feels thicker and causes you to get hotter faster. For a dog, covered in a thick coat, it is worse. Their inability to sweat means their bodies cool down by panting. But when the air is heavy with humidity, their lungs fill with hot air, often deeper and at an increased rate as they try harder to cool themselves. This is even worse for short-nosed dog like pugs and bulldogs because of their shorter, narrower nasal passages.
So with that in mind, it’s best to be conscious of the temperature and humidity levels that your dog will be the most comfortable in. When it comes to humidity, the safest level for dogs is 30-70% humidity. And as far as temperature guidelines, the most comfortable indoor setting for dogs is 65-75˚ F. But pups should never stay outside for more than four hours if temperatures dip below 50˚ F or rise above 85 ˚ F. And although these guidelines are considered the safest levels in humidity and temperature for our furry friends, always consider that your dog’s personal comfort levels and sensitivity to temperatures may differ. Keep an eye on their energy levels, differences in behavior, and any changes in their breathing or panting.
Depending on their breed and personal health, dogs not only handle the cold better than us, but enjoy those brisk snow days. But it’s when the thermometer dips to 32˚F that winter often starts to cause problems for those smaller and older pups, and even those with thinner coats. Be extra cautious because they get much colder, much faster. Those especially cold-adverse dogs may even begin to feel uncomfortable at 45˚ F. But it’s when the temperature hits 20˚ F that all dogs run the risk of frostbite and hypothermia. To avoid running those risks during the winter months, only walk your dogs during the warmest hours of the day and never let them walk on ice--the extra cold shards can increase frostbite risks and cut their footpads. Additionally, because dogs burn more energy during colder months in an effort to stay warm, they need a bit more food than during those warmer months.
One of the most important things to remember about summer (or any warm day, for that matter) is to never leave your dog in a car. Even if the outside temperature is only 85˚ F, the temperature inside a closed car can rise to over 102˚ F in as little as 10 minutes, and more than 120˚ F in only 30 minutes. It is never ok to leave a pet unattended in a parked car. Anything could happen in the two-minutes you think it will take to dash into the store. Why take such unnecessary, and possibly deadly, risks when it comes to your pets.
While summer can be a great time for you and your dog, but it can also be dangerous during the season’s hotter days. Especially if you’re not paying attention to your dog’s behavior and any potential warning signs he exhibits. Know how your dog’s panting sounds after normal exertion or playtime in the sun. Pay attention to any differences and listen for distressed or difficult breathing or wheezing. Always keep water nearby and take them inside to cool down after any periods of play or exercise in hot weather. Taking your dog for a walk in the early morning or late in the evening when the temperature has dropped will dramatically decrease the risk of your dog suffering a heatstroke. And remember, humid days make breathing more difficult, so limit your time outside. Also, as with cold weather, short-nosed dogs are more sensitive to the warm weather and on hot days (85˚ F+), a breed like the English Bulldog should be spending most of their time inside, regardless of the humidity.
To help keep your dog cool during the summer, provide them with shaded areas and cold water. Dog lovers will also use kiddie pools or make ice cube treats out of pumpkin or chicken broth as a fun way to keep their dogs cool. For some breeds, it is okay to shave down some of their coat so it’s not as thick during the summer. But always check with your vet first--some dogs should never be shaved, while others are more susceptible to sunburns and even skin cancer. Although a fan is a great way to cool yourself during those dog days of summer, fans don’t offer the same relief for dogs. So while they may enjoy the breeze blowing on their fur, never rely on a fan when you are trying to lower your dog’s temperature.
Dogs are fun-loving, affectionate companions and keeping them safe and healthy should be an owner’s top priority. So most importantly, always remember that dogs should never be in temperatures lower than 50˚ F or higher than 85˚ F for more than 4 hours, and always provide them with shade and water, and never leave them unattended in closed cars. By following our safety tips and avoiding those dangerous situations mentioned above, your dog will thank you for taking the right steps to keep him safe and by your side for many seasons to come.
Buddy Gate is another great way to keep you dog cool during the summer by providing a cool, shaded space. We recommend getting an outdoor thermometer for the garage so you know if it gets too hot or cold and have an extra bowl for fresh water.