Baby, It’s Hot Outside

Tips to avoid overheating your pup this summer, warning signs to watch for and which breeds are most susceptible to overheating

dog overheating san diego

One of the reasons San Diego is called America’s Finest City is because of our temperate climate. Last summer, though, a record-breaking heatwave caused temperatures to soar: 96 degrees in San Diego, 101 in Vista, 112 in Escondido and El Cajon, and 115 in Ramona. Fact is, our average 70-degree day in paradise can’t be taken for granted anymore.

For pet owners, the higher temperatures are something to keep in mind. Even when we are experiencing a normal balmy day, our pets have the potential to overheat, which can have grave, sometimes fatal, results. I see people walking (or even dragging) their dogs on a hot sidewalk while chatting away on their cell phone. They’re oblivious to the hopping and skipping of their Baxter. He is not doing a new dance, but is trying to keep his pads from burning on the searing cement. 

The heat can be hard on your pup whether you are walking him on the sidewalk, playing ball with him on the beach or taking him for a car ride. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), the interior of a parked vehicle can quickly reach a temperature that puts your pet at risk of serious illness and death, even on a day that doesn’t seem that hot to you. And cracking the windows doesn’t help. According to AVMA’s website, the temperature inside your vehicle can rise almost 20 degrees in just 10 minutes. In 20 minutes, it can rise almost 30 degrees…and the longer you wait, the higher it goes. At 60 minutes, the temperature in your vehicle can be more than 40 degrees higher than the outside temperature. Even on a 70-degree day, that’s 110 degrees inside your vehicle!

California and many other states have enacted laws to prevent the tragic deaths of pets left in parked cars. What’s the best solution? NEVER leave your dog unattended in a closed car. When warm outdoor conditions exist, leave your buddy at home in a cool house with the AC on or with a cooling fan. This is the time that saying “love them and leave them” is the kindest thing to do.

Here are some ways you can prevent your pet from overheating this summer.

10 warning signs that your pet might be overheating

1. Excessive panting

2. Difficulty breathing

3. Collapsing, staggering, stumbling

4. Increased heart rate

5. Drooling

6. Elevated body temperature

7. A bright red or blue tongue

8. Vomiting

9. Glazed eyes

10. Enormous thirst

10 tips to help your pup stay cool and safe

dog overheating pets summer hot weather

1. Take walks in the coolest part of the day—usually early morning or at dusk during warmer months—and bring a collapsible water bowl.

2. Don’t walk them on hot pavement.

3. Be careful not to overexert your pets with too much exercise.

4. Provide a cool shelter, like an awning or shaded tree—not a dog house. (If the temperature hits 90 degrees and above, it’s time to bring your dog inside to enjoy the air conditioning or a fan.)

5. Make sure there is lots of water for your dog to drink and have more than one water bowl available. Throw in some ice cubes or give an ice cube as a treat. (Note: Aggressive chewers, however, could break their teeth.)

6. Prepare some frozen treats. Mix your ingredients in a blender, pour it into an ice-cube tray and freeze. (Try baby foods, mashed banana and water, or Schmoozer’s favorite: blueberries and low-fat yogurt.) Frozen peanut-butter popsicles also make a great snack on a hot day. For other frozen-treat ideas, visit, or find inspiration on Pinterest or (Note: You might want to check with your vet before making your own treats for your dogs.)

7. Soak his body with cool water, not cold. Use a hose or wet towels and pat underneath your pup’s front and back legs. Or let him run through the sprinkler or play in a wading pool.

8. Purchase a cool pad or ice pad for him to lie on.

9. Make sure that summer haircut isn’t too short. One inch of length will keep your dog from getting sunburned.

10. If you suspect that your dog is suffering from heat stroke, call the vet.

Cooling Summer Items

There are lots of things on the market designed to help keep your pet cool when temps rise, but there are some basics every dog owner should have if their pup spends significant time outside this summer. Here, a few of my suggestions:

Cooling mats

Sun-protective, lightweight shirt


Pet sunscreen

Sun protection balm for their nose

Breathable mesh dog boots

Cooling vest

Portable pet shade

Dog Breeds Susceptible to Heat Stress

If your dog is overweight or thick-coated it seems obvious that he would suffer more from heat than, say, a dog with short hair. But here are some not-so-obvious breeds that tend to be in more danger when exposed to heat: 

• Short-nosed breeds, like an English bulldog

• Flat-faced toy dogs such as a pug, Pekingese and Shih Tzu

• Akita

• Boston terrier

• Boxer

• Bulldog

• Chow chow

• Mastiff

dogs overheating dog pet pets summer hot weather

Pet Patrol: Getting Your Pets Ready for Summer

Watch our Pet Patrol TV segment with Dr. Ruth MacPete to discuss must-have summer pet products and how to take care of your pets during the heat.

Categories: Pet Patrol