Dog Tips

Dogs in Humid Weather – How Does Humidity Affect Dogs?

September 14, 2022

Dogs in Humid Weather

Humidity is something every dog owner needs to pay attention to as it can impact every part of their body. Even if you are actively checking the temperature, you may be surprised to find that it feels much hotter once you step outside with your pet. This is likely because the humidity is making it feel much hotter. The Temperature-Humidity Index (aka the Heat Index) is a term used to express the degree of discomfort caused by the combination of temperature and humidity in warm weather. This index ranges from 43 to 103. When the air is humid, perspiration is unable to evaporate as quickly, making it harder for people and animals to cool down. Even if the air temperature is only at 90 degrees Fahrenheit, the heat index can reach up to 105 degrees Fahrenheit, meaning it feels that warm outside.

This phenomenon is extremely important to consider as dogs are even more sensitive to heat than we are. Their internal temperatures are higher than ours, so ambient air temperatures will feel warmed to them than to us. Our furry friends dissipate heat by panting and sweating through their paws, and that’s it! This makes it very hard for them to get rid of heat. If your dog gets too hot, they can suffer from heat exhaustion, which is when their body temperature reaches a point above their normal range, and they can no longer regulate their own body heat.

At-risk dogs

Susceptibility to heat exhaustion changes based on the individual, so there is no exact measurement we can use to determine how much heat your dog can handle. However, there are factors that increase your dog’s risk of falling ill to heat exhaustion. Those at the greatest risk of heat-related illnesses are:

Preventing heat exhaustion

Prevention is the best way to keep your pet safe when it is very humid. You should use precautions to avoid heat exhaustion if the temperate is above 90 degrees, or if the heat index is greater than 72. The easiest and most effective ways to prevent heatstroke in your pet are listed below.

  1. Check the air temperature and humidity/heat index before letting your dogs outside. Even if the temperature looks low enough, high humidity levels can make it unsafe for your dog to be outside.

  2. Never leave your dog in a parked car, even if the windows are down. Vehicles sitting in the sun can heat up quickly and intensely. With no way to escape, dogs can suffer from heat exhaustion if left in a car for even just a few minutes.

  3. Avoid walking your dog or doing activities requiring strenuous exercise during peak temperatures throughout the day. Instead, walk your dog early in the morning or later in the evening. Bring water with you and take breaks in the shade if needed.

  4. Make sure your pup doesn’t stay outside for too long! Sometimes your dogs want to play outside all day even if it’s unsafe for them to be out there, so it’s your job to monitor them and make sure they’re not in the heat for too long.

  5. Keep your dogs in cool, well-ventilated areas. Use your AC, setup fans, or close the blinds to prevent the sun from heating up the room too much.

  6. Make sure your dog has water readily available and leave it in a shady area. Drinking water is one of the main ways they regulate heat, so it’s very important that their water bowls stay full!

  7. Be aware of your dog’s medical history. If they are puppies, are older, or have conditions like obesity, breathing problems, or heart disease, you need to be even more careful with them in the heat.

Signs of heat exhaustion and heatstroke

Humidity can make dogs unable to cool themselves which can cause their temperatures to skyrocket to dangerous levels very quickly. As a responsible pet owner, make sure to watch your dog for any signs of heat exhaustion whenever it is hot or humid outside. Common signs of heat exhaustion and heatstroke to look out for include:

  1. Excessive panting and/or difficulty breathing

  2. Dehydration (dry nose, visibly tired, excessive panting, sunken eyes)

  3. Fever

  4. Excessive drooling

  5. Color change in gums

  6. Lack of urine

  7. Muscle tremors (shivering or shaking)

  8. Rapid pulse

  9. Lethargy or weakness

  10. Vomiting

  11. Dizziness

Treating heat exhaustion

If you see your dog displaying any of the signs listed above, take him to a cooler area as soon as possible. Put lukewarm water all over him to cool his body temperature. Do NOT use cold water, because cooling your dog too quickly can be just as dangerous. Put him near a fan to dry off and get some air flow and check his temperature with a thermometer every few minutes. Give him small amounts of lukewarm water to drink throughout this process. Once his temperature reaches 103 degrees Fahrenheit, stop applying water and turn the fan off. Even if he seems fine, he will need to be monitored for potential complications that could arise from his heat exhaustion. Make sure to call your vet and let him or her know what happened.

If your dog loses consciousness or becomes very ill, take him to a veterinary hospital immediately.

Key takeaways

The summer months may bring lots of fun in the sun, but it’s important to think about your pet’s health in the heat! Always make sure your pets have ample shade and water when they are outside and keep an eye on them to make sure they’re not showing any signs of heat exhaustion. If you do notice them acting different, take them inside and cool them down. If they are showing any signs of heat exhaustion, give your vet a call!






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