Pawshake Guidelines: Pet Safety During Extreme Heat

Author picture Jessica

How hot is too hot to walk your dog?

At Pawshake, our utmost priority is the safety and well-being of our four-legged companions. As our summer temperatures soar, the risks associated with dog walks and pet care increase. This guide, tailored specifically for Pawshake members, is designed to equip pet sitters & owners alike with knowledge to ensure the safety and comfort of their dogs during extreme heat events.

Puppy on a surf board

Caution with Temperature Thresholds:

The general rule of thumb is to be cautious with walks when temperatures exceed 25 degrees Celsius, and to move walks to cooler points in the day, like the early morning or evening. Indeed this is true of most activities with your pet.

Factors such as breed, age, and health conditions will also play a role in a dog's tolerance to high temperatures. You will need to make an assessment of the pet, in conjunction with veterinary advice about the the time of day that is most appropriate to exercise your dog.

Identifying Signs of Heat Distress:

Walking dogs in hot weather poses not only discomfort but serious health risks. Signs of heat-related distress in dogs includes excessive panting, drooling, lethargy, and vomiting. Being able to recognise and being aware these symptoms is crucial in preventing potentially severe health issues.

Breed-Specific Guidelines:

Different breeds exhibit varied tolerances to high temperatures, and you will need to tailor their exercise accordingly. Brachycephalic or flat-faced dog breeds like French Bulldogs and Pugs and dogs with thick coats are much more susceptible to heat-related issues. They should be kept indoors on hot days.

Pawshake recommends a personalised approach to walking routines, in conjunction with advice from the pet owners and the dogs primary vet, to ensure the dogs safety.

While not an exhaustive list, the breeds more commonly known to be at a higher risk of heatstroke include:

  • Chow Chow
  • Bulldog
  • French Bulldog
  • French Mastiff
  • Greyhound
  • Cavalier Kind Charles Spaniel
  • Pug
  • English Springer Spaniel
  • Golden Retriever
Border Collie plays with tennis ball

Timing and Duration of Dog Walks:

Strategically planning dog walks during cooler times of the day, such as early morning or evening, is a great way to still get that necessary exercise in. Avoiding peak heat hours reduces the risk of heat stress, ensuring a more enjoyable experience for both you and your dog.

Consider the duration of walks, especially on warmer days. Shorter or slower walks may be more appropriate to prevent overheating. Sometimes it may be more appropriate to wait indoors with the fans and air conditioning running.


Always carry a full water bottle and a portable dog bowl during walks. Dogs, like humans, need to stay hydrated, and providing fresh water regularly, especially on warm days, is essential.

A dog drinking

Paws on High-Temperature Surfaces:

While the heat index is easy enough to monitor, an often overlooked aspect of pet care is the potential for overheated surfaces to cause harm to sensitive paws and paw-pads.

Proactive measures such as paw balms or dog booties can help to protect pets from burns on pavement, sand, or asphalt. Conducting a straightforward palm test—holding your palm on the ground for 10 seconds—serves as a practical gauge; if it's too hot for you, it's too hot for your dog.

Choosing Safe Walking Surfaces/Routes:

Selecting safe walking surfaces becomes crucial if you find the asphalt or footpath too hot to continue. Choose grassy areas over roads or pavements, as paved/covered surfaces can retain heat late into the day.

Sticking to shady paths or walking routes is also an effective way to minimise exposure to direct sunlight. Simple measures, such as crossing to the shaded side of the street can make a big difference in the long run.

Alternative Activities on Extremely Hot Days:

Some extreme temperature days may render outdoor walks unsuitable due to the risk of heat stroke. In these cases, alternative activities such as indoor games, water play, or mental stimulation exercises provide a way to keeping dogs active and engaged without exposing them to dangerous heat.

If as a sitter you are booked for a walk on a day with extremely high temperatures, it may be beneficial to communicate with the owner about some alternative routes or activities you can undertake with your guest pet to avoid exposure.

Sun Safety:

The importance of sun safety for pets, just like humans, is especially important for those with white fur or pink skin. Applying dog-friendly sunscreen on exposed areas, such as the nose and ears, protects pets from harmful UV rays during walks in dangerous heat.

While light coloured pets are more vulnerable and may burn more easily, we should be cautious with all breeds and colour patterns and ensure they are protected.

Never Leave Dogs in Cars:

Dogs in cars on hot days can swiftly escalate into a life-threatening situation. With windows cracked open, the temperature inside a parked car can soar to dangerous levels - within mere minutes. This puts dogs at risk of heatstroke, dehydration, and, in extreme cases, death. Never leave dogs or any pet unattended in cars during high temperatures.

A dog at the beach

Keep Learning:

As part of Pawshake's commitment to responsible pet ownership, we encourage you to keep learning. Attending seminars & reading books/blogs by reputable experts will help you in providing the best possible care.

Here are a list of additional resources we recommend for both owners and sitters alike:

By adhering to these comprehensive guidelines, members can confidently navigate the challenges of dog walks in high temperatures.

Want to apply to be a Pawshake Dog Walker? Apply today!

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