How Hot is too Hot for Your Pet?
Summer is a difficult time for pets and pet owners alike. Although you may want to exercise your pet outdoors or take your furry friend traveling with you, it can be dangerous to let your pet participate in these types of activities in extreme heat.
But how hot is too hot for a pet? Are there different standards for heat tolerance depending on your pet’s intended activities, or on the type of pet you have? We’ll answer these questions and more in the article below, and we’ll help you better understand when you may want to leave your pet at home in the heat, too.
The air temperature refers to the official outdoor temperature at a given time, not including the heat index. If the air temperature outside is at or higher than your pet’s base body temperature, then it can cause your furry friend to experience significant heatstroke or heat exhaustion symptoms in a short amount of time.
Cats typically have a base body temperature of 101 to 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit. Dogs may stay anywhere between 100 and 102.5. Therefore, for dogs and cats both, an air temperature of 100 degrees Fahrenheit (37.8 Celsius) is considered too hot.
The air temperature is only part of the equation. It is also important to consider the temperature of the pavement outside, especially if you have a dog who will be taking a walk with you on any paved surfaces.
Pavement temperatures may be 40 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit hotter than air temperatures. Therefore, if the temperature outside is 85 degrees Fahrenheit, the temperature of the pavement may be upwards of 125 degrees Fahrenheit. Do not walk your dog on paved surfaces if the air temperature is 85 degrees Fahrenheit (29.5 Celsius) or higher.
Vehicle temperature is by far the most dangerous concern when it comes to pets and heat. On a very hot day, pets should never be left alone in a vehicle for any length of time—even if the air conditioner is on, and even if you think you’ll only be gone for a couple of minutes.
At just 70 degrees Fahrenheit of air temperature, the inside of a vehicle can reach 115 degrees Fahrenheit within an hour. At 95 degrees Fahrenheit air temperature, the inside of a vehicle reaches 115 degrees Fahrenheit in just 10 minutes. Never leave your pet unattended in a vehicle.
Humidity plays a part in how hot it feels outside, to you and your pet alike. If the temperature is 80 degrees Fahrenheit with low humidity, your pet can likely keep themselves cool, especially if they have access to shade and fresh water.
However, at 80 degrees Fahrenheit with high humidity, pets do not have the ability to cool themselves down. Temperatures quickly turn dangerous especially for dogs who spend time outside in high-humidity climates, since a dog is unable to cool down by panting in this type of weather.
It may go without saying, but your pet’s activity level during higher temperatures may play a part in their safety, too. If it is 80 degrees Fahrenheit (26.7 Celsius) or higher outside, it is not recommended for your pet to engage in active play or other high-energy activities outdoors.
If you do take your pet for a walk in this type of heat, keep the walk short and provide plenty of fresh water when you get back. Otherwise, keep your pet’s playtime indoors, or let them run around outside in the early morning and late evening instead.
Type of Pet
Finally, the type of pet you have may make a difference when it comes to heat tolerance, too. A cat who spends all their time indoors may be uncomfortable in the heat, but they are not going to be as bothered by it as a dog who likes to take long walks, for example. Different dog breeds may handle heat differently, too. Longhaired dogs and those with thick, curly coats are more likely to overheat quickly. On the other hand, hairless dogs may experience sunburn faster than other dogs. Any brachycephalic dog (with a short, flat snout) may have difficulty breathing in higher temperatures as well.
Keep Your Pet Safe During the Hot Weather
Based on this information, it’s easy to see why so many pets suffer from heat-related injuries during the summer months. You can protect your pet by leaving them safely at home any time you know you’re going to be out in extreme heat conditions.
If your pet does show symptoms of heatstroke, paw pad burns, sunburn, or any other heat-related condition, take them to the emergency vet right away. These conditions are serious and should be treated as such. Your pet may need medical care to help recover and get back to their usual self once again.
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Heart + Paw was founded in 2018 by Chief Veterinary Officer Dr. George Melillo, who currently serves the Mid-Atlantic area. Heart + Paw offers a combination of veterinary care, pet grooming, and dog daycare to help be a resource in your pet parenthood journey.
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