When temperatures start getting very hot, it’s important to consider how warm summer weather can affect your dog.
Hot temperatures can pose a significant health risk to pets, especially Labrador Retrievers, who are active and athletic all year round.
So how do you protect your dog from high temperatures and keep your dog cool in the summer?
We’ll go over five tips to help your Labrador deal with hot weather and the best ways to keep them cool and happy all summer long!
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How Heat Can Affect Labrador Retrievers
Labradors have a thick double-coat that provides a tremendous amount of protection in cold weather, and especially while working in cold water. But how does their coat perform in hot weather?
While the Labrador double-coat serves them well in cold weather, it can give them too much insulation in hot weather and allow them to take longer to cool themselves down.
Labs will shed much of their excess coat in late spring in preparation for the warmer summer months. Labradors also don’t need a haircut, or to ever be shaved of their coat, as it provides protection from sunburn in the summer sun.
Labs are also extremely active and playful dogs, which will also raise their body temperature and make them more prone to overheating.
Labs should not stay outside for extended periods of time when temps are in the high 80 degrees F or above, especially if you live in an area of high humidity.
We do not recommend you let your Labrador live outside all the time, as it can be harmful to them to be primarily an outside-only dog. We suggest you keep your Labrador inside your home throughout the year, with plenty of supervised exercise and play outside as well.
Be sure to watch for any signs of heatstroke in your dog, including excessive drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, lack of muscle coordination, and collapse.
Now that you know the risks of high heat and summer temperatures to your dog, let’s go over 5 tips to keep your dog cool in the summer.
1. A Hot Car Can Kill Your Dog
One of the greatest dangers of overheating for your dog and heatstroke in dogs is being left in a hot car.
Temperatures in a car in the hot summer sun can rise very dramatically and quickly, and your dog will be at risk of illness or death.
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, temperatures in a hot car can rise 20 degrees F in just 10 minutes, and 30 degrees F in 20 minutes. Leaving the windows down is not a safe solution either, because it doesn’t cool the car as much as necessary to save your dog from harm.
Leaving your dog in your car for just a few minutes can raise the temperature so quickly and to such a high degree that your dog could suffer from heatstroke and die before you even return to your car.
Please don’t leave your Labrador, or any other pet, inside your car in warm or hot temperatures, even if you think it’s just going to be for a minute!
Sometimes people think their dog will be happier if they take them along on their errands, but only do this if you’re headed to a place where you can take your dog inside with you, such as a pet store, doggie daycare, or home improvement store that allows dogs.
Otherwise, your dog will be happier, cooler, and safer at home, hanging out on a cool floor inside your home, or on the sofa basking in the air conditioning.
If you’re planning a trip with your dog, make sure you check out our guide to the 8 Best Hotels for Labradors & Big Dogs so you find a great place to stay and keep your Lab cool on your travels with you!
2. Change the Timing of Your Walks
Your dog might benefit from a change in the timing of your daily walks or other exercises to coincide with cooler temperatures of early morning and late evening.
Labrador Retrievers are a high-energy, active dog breed, and though they may not do well in excessive heat, they still have energy to burn off every day. It’s important to keep them on a schedule of exercise, but adjust it to make it safer for your dog when hotter temperatures become normal.
Keep your dog on a routine of walks or play, including games of fetch, but modify the times you take them out by moving their walks or high-exercise time to several hours earlier or later in the day.
3. Watch Out for Hot Pavement
As temperatures heat up throughout the day, you might not notice how hot the pavement gets if you’re wearing shoes. But for your dog, that pavement can be especially harsh on their delicate paws and the pads of their feet.
You can do a simple check to see if the pavement is too hot for your Labrador’s paws by putting your hand on the ground for about 5 seconds. If it feels too hot to hold your hand there, it’s too hot for your dog too.
Be aware that blacktop pavement will absorb more heat due to its darker color, and will likely be hotter for your dog to walk on than cement or concrete. We can tell a noticeable difference in the temperature of the blacktop path near our home versus the concrete sidewalk that runs along the road nearby.
If possible, avoid blacktop driveways and paths, and choose a lighter-colored concrete surface, always checking the temperature before you begin.
Another option is to skip the pavement or concrete surfaces completely and stay on the grass, mulch, or other soft surfaces when taking your walks.
If you have a cooperate Labrador, you can also purchase “dog booties” that you can put over your dog’s paws to protect them from hot surfaces on their walks. These work similar to winter booties that protect their feet from harsh conditions and cold temperatures.
Make sure you take the ground surface temperature into consideration before you head outside with your Labrador, especially if you’re venturing out for a walk.
4. Cool Off in the Water
Playing in the water can be one of the best ways for both humans and dogs to cool off in the hot summer sun.
Labrador Retrievers are known as excellent water dogs, and generally love to swim and play in the water. They have been bred as outstanding performers in water retrieving, and their playful, athletic personalities are typically very adventurous in the water.
If your dog is new to being around water, don’t overwhelm them with too much water activity at first. Read our guide about swimming and Labradors found here for more tips on how to help your Lab love the water and become a great swimmer.
If your Lab is already comfortable around water, you can run a sprinkler in your yard, or purchase a baby pool for about $10-$15 that will give your Lab a place to splash and cool off outside without needing to use much water at all.
You can also move bath time for your Lab outside, and utilize the baby pool for outdoor bath time for your dog, getting them clean and cooling them off at the same time.
If you don’t have a yard, or want to head further outdoors for a longer adventure, you can explore lakes, creeks, or the ocean for plenty of places to play with your Lab in the water. A dog beach or dog park can also be a great location for your Lab to run off energy while cooling off in the process.
5. Find a Refreshing Treat Indoors (And Plenty of Water to Drink)
Labradors need access to plenty of water, and this is especially true during the hotter summer months. Always make sure your Lab has clean, cool water available to them for drinking, and check it frequently throughout the day to make sure they don’t run out.
You might find your Lab increases the amount of water they drink during hotter temperatures, so their water bowl might run out faster than normal in the summer. This is also true for outside water bowls, which are susceptible to evaporation (and heating up) in the hot summer sun.
You can also give your dog special treats in the summer, including homemade “Pupsicles” or other frozen treats you can create with just a few easy ingredients.
Another great way to help keep your dog cool in the summer is to stuff a Kong toy with things such as peanut butter, unsweetened plain yogurt, or bananas, and freeze the Kong for several hours. This is a great way to cool them off while also stimulating them mentally with the challenge of getting the tasty treats out.
We also love another free treat for our Labradors found at Starbucks locations, the Puppuccino! You can get the Puppuccino all year round, but it’s especially refreshing for your dog in the hot summer temps.
For more information about how to order a free Puppuccino for your dog the next time you head to Starbucks, check out our article here.
Summary – 5 Tips to Keep Your Dog Cool in the Summer Heat
Now that summer 2021 has officially arrived, it’s important to know how hot weather can affect your dog in a significant way.
Labs can overheat and face a risk of death when exposed to high temperatures, especially in confined locations like inside a hot car. Never leave your dog inside a car during warm or hot weather, even if you only think it will be a few short minutes.
At home, you’ll want to change the timing of your longer walks to coincide with cooler temps in the early morning and late evening, give your Lab cool and refreshing treats to help conquer the heat, and keep them inside in air conditioning whenever possible.
Watch out for hot pavement on your walks no matter what time of day it is, and let your Labrador play in the water to cool off when possible.
By taking these steps, you’ll keep your Labrador safe, cool, and happy all summer long!