How To Prevent Your Puppy From Overheating

As a puppy parent, you need to realize that your pup can’t tell you if they are uncomfortable, cold, hot, thirsty, etc. Sure, it’s easy to know if your dog, for example, is freezing if they’re shivering like crazy, but other negative emotions and situations are more difficult to detect.

A good example is knowing how much to feed your puppy every day, including puppy chow, snacks, and treats you give them. Too much food and the result will be an overweight dog that may develop health problems due to their obesity. Too little food can cause them to tear up other things to get the food their body needs or tear up cabinets and doors trying to access their food. Either situation can be damaging to your pup’s health.

One of the most critical conditions to prevent is overheating, which can be especially harmful to a puppy and quickly endanger their lives. Protecting puppies from the heat was on my mind the other day here where I live. I’m in the midwest, where the heat can sometimes be brutal. That got me thinking about something many people ask me: how to prevent your puppy from overheating?

The answer is that there are several methods and solutions to prevent your precious pup from overheating. One of the most important is to ensure they have access to plenty of drinking water, especially when walking on hot days. Depending on where you live and how hot it is, walking your pup in the morning or later afternoon is a good way to prevent them from overheating.

There are several more methods and tips to prevent your pupper from overheating, and I’ve got them for you below. It’s important information, no doubt, and essential for all puppy parents to know and use. Read on to find out more and keep your pup cool as a cucumber on hot days.

Risks of my Puppy Overheating

There are several risks that your puppy faces if they overheat, the worst of which is heatstroke. Heatstroke happens when the temperature outside is equal to, or higher than, your puppy’s body temperature. (Between 101° F and 102.5° F.)

Unfortunately, heatstroke is very common in states where it gets brutally hot in summer. Arizona, Nevada, California, and Texas are a few, and the number of heatstroke cases there is, unfortunately, high. What’s so scary about heatstroke is that it can kill a puppy within 15 to 20 minutes!

Leaving a puppy in a car in summer is one of the biggest causes of heatstroke and happens all too often. Even on a relatively mild day under 80° F and parked in the shade, a car can reach temperatures over 100° F in mere minutes.

Many folks believe that leaving their puppy in their car is OK if they leave the AC running. While that might sometimes be true, there have been numerous reports of a car stalling or the AC failing that have led to the death of a puppy from heatstroke.

Do Puppies Overheat Easily? 

Puppies and dogs, in general, overheat much faster than humans. Puppies, however, overheat even faster. The reason is that their bodies still haven’t gained the ability to self-regulate their body temperature, and thus they heat up much faster.

Several dog breeds have a double coat that helps them regulate their body temperature. Unfortunately, puppies don’t develop their adult coat until they’re older. Combined with their high energy levels, that fact can be a dangerous combination that leads to heatstroke.

Lastly, dogs and puppies have far fewer sweat glands than humans. They rely on panting to cool off, which can’t keep up with the heat on a very hot day. Overheating is an even bigger problem for brachycephalic breeds. French Bulldogs, for example, don’t get as much help from panting due to their flattened faces.

How do I know if my Puppy is Overheating? 

Too much heat is relative when it comes to puppies, as some can overheat more quickly or less quickly than others. For that reason, knowing the signs of overheating are essential. That way, you will be able to spot that your pup is overheating and take the necessary steps to cool them off quickly and safely. The most common signs a puppy is overheating include:

  • Excessive panting and drooling
  • Lethargy or lack of energy
  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Their gums and tongue become  a bright red color
  • They have a greatly increased thirst

Signs of a Dog Overheating to the Point they Need Veterinary Attention

The symptoms of overheating I talked about above will happen quickly if your puppy is in the process of overheating. Cooling them off with water and getting them out of the sun and into a cooler location should be sufficient to bring their temperature back to normal.

The thing is, though, a puppy can overheat very quickly. (Remember, heatstroke can kill them in less than 20 minutes!) The symptoms below will occur if your puppy is to the point where they are near death and need veterinary help immediately, including:

  • Stumbling that makes it look as if they’re drunk.
  • Collapsing on the floor 
  • Seizures
  • They become unconscious and stop moving

How Hot is Too Hot for a Puppy?

Like humans, every dog is different. Some can take the heat of a typical summer day with no problem, while others can suffer from overheating and heatstroke, even on a mildly hot day. The question is, though, what temperature is too hot for most puppies and dogs?

The answer is about 77 to 80° F. At this temperature, most puppies will have a hard time adapting to the heat and keeping their body cool. Also, remember that, as I mentioned earlier, some pups might not be able to regulate their body temp yet due to their age.

Also, keep in mind that the temperature of concrete and asphalt can be 40 to 60 degrees hotter than the air temperature. On a 75° F day, the sidewalk can be 115 ° F to 135° F, enough to burn their paw pads severely in just a few minutes.

Humidity also plays a factor. For example, on a 100° F. day, most puppies will be OK in the shade if the humidity is low. If there’s high humidity, their ability to cool off is greatly diminished. A puppy outside on a hot, humid day can overheat quickly, so be aware and ensure they have access to shade and water.

What are the Treatments for Overheating in Puppies?

Overheating and mild heatstroke can be treated, in most cases, at home, without the need for a vet. Severe cases, however, can be life-threatening and demand veterinary care immediately. 

To reduce your pup’s temperature when they overheat or have mild heatstroke, the following steps are essential, including:

  • Remove them from the heat and bring your puppy inside.
  • Give them cold water, Gatorade, or Pedialyte to drink immediately.
  • Give them some small ice cubes to lick.
  • Turn on a fan to cool them off more quickly.

For severe heatstroke, use the following tips and get them to a vet ASAP:

  • Put your pup in a cold water bath.
  • Wrap your puppy in a cold, wet towel.
  • Place ice packs on their groin and under their arms. That’s where major blood vessels are located. The cooling effect will be transferred to the rest of their body by their blood.

Once you do these things and their temperature begins to drop, it’s imperative you take your puppy to the vet to get examined and cared for properly.

Final Thoughts

The answer to how to prevent your puppy from overheating is a simple one. Keep them out of the heat on very hot, humid days. Make sure they have plenty of shade and water to drink. Don’t take them for walks when the temperature is very hot, as asphalt and concrete are 20 to 40 degrees hotter than the air temperature. 

Lastly, never leave your puppy unattended in a car on a hot day. Even on a relatively cool day, the inside temperature of your car can turn deadly for your puppy. Also, even if you leave the air-conditioning on, there’s no guarantee that it will function perfectly.

I hope this information was very helpful and answered all of your questions on how to prevent your puppy from overheating. If you have more or want to learn more about being a puppy parent, please see my other blogs. They’re filled with valuable, real-world information and advice that can significantly help a new puppy parent like yourself.