How to exercise your dog when it’s too hot to go outside

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How to exercise your dog when it’s too hot to go outside - a dog playing with a ball indoors

Exercise is just as important for dogs as it is for their owners. Unfortunately, during the summer, extreme heat waves can make it dangerous to go on daily midday walks. So, how are you supposed to make sure your dog is getting enough activity during the dog days of summer? Read on to learn some creative ways to beat the heat and learn answers to questions like:

  • Does my dog need less exercise when it is hot outside?
  • What can I do to exercise my dog when it’s too hot?
  • Why are high temperatures dangerous for dogs?

Dogs still need exercise when they cannot go outdoors, so pet parents might need to find new ideas and stimulating activities that keep their pets safe and healthy in the heat.

How much exercise does my dog need?

Exercise is important for the health and well-being of all dogs. The exact amount of daily exercise needed varies between individuals. Generally speaking, most dogs should receive a minimum of 30 to 60 minutes of exercise daily. Energetic dogs benefit from more than the minimum amount of exercise and mental stimulation throughout the day.

How can I exercise my dog in extreme heat?

Dogs still need exercise, even on a hot summer day. Daily walks are great but are not the only way to provide physical movement and mental stimulation. There are several ways to exercise dogs away from the heat.

Do physical activities indoors

Staying indoors where there is air conditioning is the best way to prevent a dog from developing heat exhaustion or heatstroke outdoors. Indoor activities, such as games of fetch, hide and seek, and even dancing in your home, are fun ways to get a dog moving. Some cities have indoor dog parks which can provide areas to run and play out of the midday sun.

Go on an air-conditioned walk

You can still walk your dog when it is hot outdoors. Many businesses, such as pet stores and some hardware stores, are dog friendly. Walking through the aisles of these stores provides the same exercise as a walk around your neighborhood while staying in cool air conditioning.

Play in the water

Utilizing sprinklers, kiddie pools, or another body of water can provide plenty of fun physical exercise while keeping cool. Always monitor a dog around pools, lakes, and beaches, and practice good water safety using life jackets in deeper water. Prevent your dog from drinking chlorinated, lake, or salt water to prevent toxicity and illness.

Utilize puzzles and boredom busters

If a dog is used to walking in the middle of the day, they may become bored at home while waiting for cooler temperatures in the evening. Mental stimulation is important and can help tire your dog out at home. Treat puzzles, snuffle mats, and even setting up a simple game using Dixie cups to hide treats around your home can provide fun and stimulating indoor activity for your pooch. Frozen treats and Kongs can also keep them cool and engaged. Be careful with heavy chewers. Ice cubes and other frozen treats can easily fracture teeth if bitten too hard. Always supervise your dog when they have chew toys and treats.

Avoid the direct sun on walks

Sometimes, outdoor walks cannot be avoided and are necessary for the health and happiness of our furry friends. Avoid extreme heat by walking in shaded areas, in the cooler late evening hours, and areas near water. Asphalt and other pavement can become hot enough to burn a dog’s paw pads, so opting for a grassy walk in the shade is much safer.

Acclimatize them to hot weather

While some dogs are more susceptible to heat-related illnesses than others, all dogs can benefit from acclimatizing gradually to the heat. “Dogs who have an opportunity to adapt to heat gradually are much more capable of being outside in it,” explains Vetster Dr. Jo Myers. Slowly increase the time spent outdoors in the heat while keeping a close eye on signs they are becoming hot or tired.

Why is it dangerous for dogs to go outdoors in hot weather?

Heat exhaustion and heatstroke are common in hot, humid weather. Heatstroke is a medical emergency that requires immediate medical attention at an animal hospital. Heatstroke can occur in temperatures as low as 65 F (18 C) for more susceptible dogs, especially in humid areas. Watch for clinical signs such as vomiting, diarrhea, loss of consciousness, and changes in gum color, and seek veterinary care immediately if they occur. Hot asphalt can also cause severe paw pad burns after just a few minutes of walking, even if it doesn’t seem that hot outside.

If you have questions about how to exercise your dog in the summer weather, you can get your questions answered by a veterinarian in a virtual vet appointment.

FAQ - How to exercise your dog when it is too hot to go outside

Do dogs need less exercise when it is hot out?

No. Dogs need at least 30 to 60 minutes of daily exercise, even when it is too hot to be outside. Provide the same amount of exercise your dog usually needs in safer ways by playing indoor games, playing in the water, and avoiding direct sun and the hottest times of day.

How hot is too hot to exercise your dog?

Individual dogs have different heat tolerances based on age, breed, and medical history. Avoid taking your dog out in direct sun and the hottest part of the day whenever possible. Always watch for signs of heat exhaustion, such as heavy panting, lethargy, and an unwillingness to walk or exercise. Go indoors and immediately cool your dog off when they show they are hot and tired.

How do I know when it is too hot to walk my dog?

Generally, if it feels hot to you outside, it feels even hotter for your dog. Keep a close eye on your dog for signs of heat exhaustion in warm temperatures. When they become hot and tired, it’s time to go indoors.

Do dogs act differently in hot weather?

Dogs can become dehydrated and exhausted in a summer heat wave, just like we can. Avoid strenuous exercise and find ways to play and exercise in ways to keep your dog cool to prevent heat-related illness and injury.