Hot Weather Hazards: How aging affects your dog’s exposure to heat

learn why your dog is panting so much

Summer is a season to get outside and enjoy our pets; it’s when many pet parents take vacations or enjoy slower, longer days outdoors. It’s typical for pets to accompany their caregivers to the lake, cookouts, pools, or parks during summertime. But, high temperatures can make pets uncomfortable, agitated, and at risk for negative health impacts.  

The team at Leap Years® wants to share simple strategies for keeping your dog at a comfortable temperature all summer. To help you avoid heat-related issues in dogs, we outline the signs of heat exhaustion and heatstroke, describe why your dog may be getting too hot, and associated heat risks for senior dogs.  

You may have wondered why dogs pant. Well, one reason is that when they pant, the air passing over the saliva in their mouth (as well as over the mucus in their nose) provides a cooling effect; the lining of a dog’s mouth is an evaporative surface like our skin when we humans sweat. Beyond panting, a dog’s blood vessels in the face, ears, and feet will expand, further dissipating heat in the body. It is important to pay attention to the beginning signs of overheating to avoid prolonged exposure that could lead to heat stroke and even death.  

Know the signs of heat exhaustion/heat stroke 

Heat exhaustion occurs when your dog gets too hot and cannot cool itself down by the normal method of panting. Since dogs cannot sweat to cool off the way we do, their ability to cool themselves is limited. 

Overheating occurs when a dog’s body temperature rises above 104°F, well beyond the normal, average temperature of 101.5°F. A dog’s elevated body temperature can occur due to high humidity, insufficient shade and/or water, or extended exertion in high heat conditions.   

The signs of heat exhaustion/heat stroke are: 

  • Excessive panting  
  • Excessive drooling, accompanied by rapid breathing 
  • Excessive thirst  
  • Temperature over 104°F 
  • Delayed response to your voice 
  • Dry gums that progress to bright red  
  • Nausea 
  • Diarrhea  
  • Accelerated heartbeat 
  • Compromised balance, lethargy or imbalance  
  • Sudden collapse 

Associated risks of overheating and the risks for senior dogs 

A dog’s organ systems are adversely affected by prolonged exposure to high heat, which can lead to many problems. The gut and kidneys are among the first to be affected. Senior dogs may have age-related conditions which make them more sensitive to heat. As dogs age, they cannot regulate their body temperatures like younger dogs and can succumb to heat exhaustion faster. Pet parents should be aware that older dogs may not be able to handle heat like they once did and need to provide ample shade, water, and cooling for senior dogs. 

Heatstroke can be fatal. Overheating can cause weakness, lethargy, collapse, seizure, coma, and brain damage. The signs of heat exhaustion and heatstroke are similar, with the main differentiating factor being the body temperature and severity of signs; heatstroke occurs when a dog’s temperature reaches 105°F or above.  

Heatstroke can be reversed if caught early. If you notice your dog displaying signs of heatstroke, consider it an emergency and seek medical help from a veterinary professional. Once the emergency is identified, you may consider immediately attempting to lower your dog’s body temperature (see below).   

When planning time outside in the summer, pet parents should factor in how the weather can affect their dogs. Activities early or late in the day are best. 

Why is your dog getting so hot and how to help it cool down 

Overheating in dogs occurs for some of the same reasons in humans; not enough water, not enough shade, inadequate cooling after being in elevated temperatures, or being trapped in an unventilated space such as a car.   

First, stop whatever activity is going on, and carry or walk the dog to a cooler area. Then sponge or mist the dog with cool, tepid water, and use a fan to further lower the temperature. Provide hydration (pup popsicles or a few ice cubes in their water bowl). Use a cool (not ice cold) wet towel, and gently apply it to body areas where the hair is sparse (under arms, between legs, to inside of ear flap) and to their foot pads. Other ways to cool down are misters, a shallow dog pool, or a cooling mat. 

Top tips keep your dog cool and safe all summer long: 

  • Never leave your dog in a parked car in the summertime, the interior temperatures of a car can soar to dangerous levels fast. See chart. 
  • When monitoring heat for a dog, it’s important to note the temperature and the humidity levels, the humidity can be what is affecting dogs and keeping them from being able to regulate their temperatures, this causes their temps to rise resulting in overheating which can lead to heatstroke 
  • If you suspect your dog is overheated, take their temperature, the reading should be in the normal range of 100.5- 102.5°F   
  • Be mindful of exercise on hot days, if the heat is high refrain from body heat inducing exercise for your dog 
  • Supply shade and water to your dog often throughout the summer 
  • Old dogs love A/C and a padded bed 


 Vehicle Heat Dangers For Dogs 
  Outside Air Temperature (°F)  
 70 75 80 85 90 95 
Elapsed Time
Inside Vehicle Air Temperature (°F) 
0 70 75 80 85 90 95 
10 89 94 99 104 109 114 
20 99 104 109 114 119 124 
30 104 109 114 119 124 129 
40 108 113 118 123 128 133 
50 111 116 121 126 131 136 
60 113 118 123 128 133 138 
1HR + 115 120 125 130 135 140 


While summer is a great time to make memories with your dogs, pay attention to their activity on a hot day. Note their panting and drooling. Create safe places to cool down and ensure hydration and cool air are available at intervals between time spent outdoors; enjoy the summer with your companion dog! 

When to Consult your Veterinarian

If you do not know your dog’s age, having an assessment done by a veterinary professional will be helpful. Your veterinarian can help you estimate your dog’s age by checking the health of its gums and teeth. The degree of teeth wearing, discoloration, and tartar buildup can suggest certain ages in adult dogs. Other aging markers may be joint health and overall vitality. Your veterinary professional may also check and test for age-related illnesses you may not be able to detect visually.

When should a dog begin to take Leap Years® soft chews?

All dogs can take Leap Years® daily, but those middle-aged or older (estimated 50% or more of their lifespan) see the most benefit. It may also improve the cellular health of younger dogs with chronic diseases.

Leap Years® is a chewable supplement system that works at the cellular level in two ways: to restore cellular health by boosting NAD+ production and clean out damaged cells to make room for new, healthy cells.

While many pet parents turn to Leap Years® for their senior dogs, it is also an ideal supplement for middle-aged dogs. Research shows it is around half of a dog’s predicted lifespan that NAD levels begin declining. For example, if a specific dog breed lives twelve years on average, it would be the right time to start the chews at six years of age.

Incorporate Leap Years® soft chews into your dog’s life to boost NAD and promote increased vitality and engagement.

Try Leap Years® Today And See The Benefits For Yourself.


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