When the weather is nice, the last thing your dog wants to do is sit inside. Dogs love the sunshine just as much as humans, and can spend hours and hours outside. Parks, lakes, oceans ― there’s just so much to see and explore! Keeping your dog in the sun, or taking them to a bonfire or backyard BBQ, is always fun, too. Your pup can stay out even longer when they have shade and water, so make sure they have those, and day trips to the lake or forest walks are definitely possible.

There’s no limit, really, for how long you can happily keep your dog in the sun. But do keep in mind that they only cool off by panting. In other words, they don’t have sweat glands like we humans do. Dogs with short and light hair have an easier time of it, but on the other hand, little fur means they can get sunburned. Meanwhile, dogs with darker and longer hair are better protected from the sun’s rays, but may get warm a lot quicker. Size and activity level also play into how long you can keep your dog in the sun. Monitor their breathing and make sure they drink enough water, to prevent heat exhaustion and stroke.

Never leave your dog locked in the car or tied to a post in the open sun! Their ability to find shade or cool air is limited when they are in these positions. The heat can for a dog in the sun turn dangerous very quickly.

Your dog loves joining you on summer adventures, but never leave them in a locked car on a sunny day!

Fun in the sun

Dogs, much like humans, generally don’t just want to sunbathe or nap happily in a ray of sunlight on the porch. They want to run and play, swim and jump, which is of course great. It’s an amazing way to spend one’s time. But it’s also a way to quickly get overheated. Aside from keeping an eye on your dog in the sun, and making sure they stay hydrated, there are other things to consider. Mainly, try to keep playtime and long walks for after sunset; from 11 am to 3 pm, the sun is generally at its brightest and hottest during the summer. It’s best to wait until later in the day, before indulging in your dog’s wishes to run around and chase whatever is available.

Another thing that’s easy to forget is sidewalks. In the middle of the day, the sun can make the ground scorching hot, which can be hard on your dogs exposed paws. This is yet another reason to stick to the shade and go outside during the later hours of the day. On another note, when it comes to fur, it can be tempting to shave long-haired and thick-haired dogs. It makes sense, right? But you may just end up damaging your dog’s undercoat, depending on the breed, or end up with your dog getting a sunburn. Ask a professional groomer, if you’re unsure.

When is enough?

Some sunshine is great for dogs as well as humans, but your dog can’t really tell you when they’ve had enough. Sometimes they might not even be aware, themselves. But as a rule of thumb, whenever you’ve had enough, your dog probably has, too. Dogs are a bit more tolerant of extreme weather, but they are still affected. So if you’ve had yourself and your dog in the sun for 3 hours with minimal shading, take a break. 30 minutes to an hour to just sit inside in the cool shade should rejuvenate you for another round in the sun. Remember to stay hydrated and keep plenty of water on hand, and you and your pets will thoroughly enjoy your outdoor adventures!