Heat Safety Tips

Heat Safety Tips

June 09, 2020

Heat Safety Tips


Summer is here and it’s time to hit the trails. Before you head out, refresh your heat safety knowledge to ensure both you and your pup enjoy a safe, healthy hike.


Don’t rely on the trail description’s promise of a creek at mile 3, be sure to carry ample water in case the source has run dry or looks stagnant. The baseline rule of thumb is about 1 cup of water per 10 pounds of body weight per day. So, a 50-pound dog needs at least 5 cups just lounging around at home. If you’re out exercising on a hot day, bring double.


Build in breaks for rest and recovery. If you plan to hike above the tree line, a lightweight umbrella makes good temporary sun protection.


Coat color, breed, size, and body condition all contribute to a dog’s ability to tolerate heat. Remember most dogs won’t be as fit on the first big hike of the season as they were last fall.


If the adventure you planned feels like too much, listen to your gut and cut it short; unexpected humidity, tough trail conditions, and getting started too late are all good reasons to try again another day.


Look for signs of heat stress, some dogs will continue to push themselves despite being overheated. Learn to recognize the signs:

  • Temperature over 104°F
  • Excessive panting and rapid heart rate
  • Drooling, lethargy, stumbling
  • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • Darker pink or red tongue and gums.


If you see signs of heat stroke, immediately:

  • Get your dog out of the heat.
  • Decrease their body temperature by submerging in cool (not icy) water, or wetting with a hose. Check temperature every few minutes, your goal is to get down to 103F (but not below).
  • Get to the vet! Even if your dog seems to recover, they may be suffering from dehydration, kidney failure, and other complications, so be sure to get them checked.


Dr. Jenee Daws


Dr. Daws is a veterinarian currently practicing in Bozeman, Montana.

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