As the weather here in Richmond warms up, it feels so great to get outside, especially since we have all been stuck at home. So long as you are avoiding crowded areas and keeping your distance from other people, get out there! But don’t forget that there are some safety considerations when it comes to dogs and warm weather.
Heatstroke can happen very quickly depending on the temperature and the breed of your dog. Brachycephalic, or squishy faced, breeds are much more likely to overheat, even when it doesn’t seem that hot to a human. This is because dogs use their respiratory system to cool themselves down, and short nosed breeds don’t move air as easily. To avoid heatstroke, plan outdoor activities in the early morning or later in the evening on very hot days. Watch for continued panting, very red gums or tongue, vomiting and collapse. Heatstroke is a life-threatening emergency.
Never leave animals in cars on warm or hot days. Even on 60- or 70-degree days, cars can reach dangerous temperatures in a short amount of time. Check out this YouTube video of a vet sitting in a hot car to show how bad it can get:
Asphalt and concrete can reach dangerous temperatures on warm, sunny days. Remember dogs don’t have shoes to protect their feet, so hot pavement can lead to foot pad burns. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association demonstrated that in air temperatures of 77 degrees, asphalt temperatures can exceed 125 degrees, which is hot enough to cause 2nd degree burns. A good rule of thumb is if you can’t hold your hand on the asphalt for more than 7 seconds, it is too hot for your dog.
Spending time outside is a great way to maintain your dog’s mental and physical health. But be sure to take a moment to think about your plans and make sure you are keeping both humans and dogs safe in the warm weather.