It is important for all dog owners to understand how summertime and hot weather can affect dogs, and the potential dangers the heat can pose to dog’s health. More or less all dog owners know that leaving a dog alone in a car can be lethal and that dogs shouldn’t be walked in the middle of the day when the weather is hottest, but there are also a lot of misconceptions that dog owners have about dogs and hot weather too, which can be dangerous.
Read on to learn five misconceptions that people often have about dogs and hot weather, and the truth behind them.
First of all, it is certainly true that dogs don’t sweat in the same way that humans do; and in fact for us people, sweating is the main and most obvious way in which our bodies work to cool us down.
However, dogs do sweat to an extent, just not from their armpits and most of the other places that we do. In fact, dogs can only sweat from two areas of their bodies, which are the pads of the paws and to a lesser extent again, the surface of their noses.
Even the sweat that dogs produce on their paws is very minor, and so sweating isn’t useful to dogs in terms of it being able to help them to cool down in any meaningful way.
However, it is a myth that dogs don’t sweat at all!
If you spot a dog with a very long or thick coat in the height of summer, said dog is probably moving as little as possible and potentially wilting a little in the heat, as is the case for most dogs!
It might seem obvious too that dogs that have coats like this, which usually hail from colder climates where they need coats of this type to survive in harsh winters, are going to suffer significantly as a result of such coats in the summer.
This means that many people who own dogs with dense or long coats get them clipped in the summer, to reduce the amount of fur they have and so, to help to make them more comfortable and reduce the risks of them overheating.
But should dogs with very thick or heavy coats be clipped in the summer and does this really help them? Well, not necessarily. Dogs are used to the respective coat types that they have, whatever it is, and their bodies regulate their internal temperatures with this factored in.
A very long or thick coat can also in some cases insulate a dog against excess light and heat, rather than causing them to overheat; and if a dog suddenly goes from having a thick coat to a shaved coat, their bodies may not be as capable of doing this, plus it may place the dog at risk of sunburn from the newly exposed skin too.
Also, dogs whose coats are very thick and that have undercoats generally shed heavily as the weather heats up, naturally removing the bulkier part of their winter coat to help them to cope in the summer.
Clipping a dog with a very thick or heavy coat can be a good idea for some dogs; but it is not a blanket rule that this is the best approach to summer for all dogs!
Dogs can overheat due to hot temperatures and also due to excessive exertion, which can be a problem for very lively breeds that are very one track minded, like the Border collie. Many people assume that when a dog starts to get too hot or is in danger of overheating or dehydrating, they will stop what they are doing to rest and cool down, which makes sense – but is not always the case.
Some dogs will continue to run and exert themselves if the opportunity is there, even when they’re uncomfortably hot. For instance, if someone keeps throwing a ball for the dog to the point of exhaustion and overheating, not all dogs will stop. So it is very important for dog owners to monitor their dog’s exertion and how hot they’re getting, and to call breaks and avoid exercise when the dog is getting too hot or tired.
Dogs can overheat or develop heatstroke from exercise even in the winter, and whilst the outside temperature is a factor and hot weather will make dogs overheat more quickly, it is entirely possible for dogs to overheat on any regular day.
There is no safe temperature below which overheating and heatstroke are not potential threats to dogs, so bear this in mind.
Wrong. Dogs can get sunburn surprisingly easily, particularly if their coats are light coloured and/or fine, and their skin is pink. Dogs of any colour are more at risk of sunburn on bare areas of skin, like the nose and tips of the ears.
Dogs can even get sunburn inside of your home if they’re in full sun, and sunburn in dogs can happen quite quickly. This is both painful for your dog, and increases the risk of more acute problems long term, like the development of skin cancer.