How hot is too hot for a Blue Heeler?
Being bred for the scorning Australian sun, they are also fairly tolerant of warmer weather. However, heat exhaustion or even heat stroke is a genuine concern when exercising any dog in hot weather. The ideal temperature for this breed is around 55 to 70F (13 to 20 degrees) but they are fine in hotter weather as long as you take precautions.
For a Blue Heeler that lives outside it is crucial to take precautions in temperatures hotter than that. This includes providing them shade and shelter, and access to water at all times. For more tips for Blue Heelers living outside see here.
What are the hazards for a Blue Heeler in hot weather?
There are a number of potential hazards that may put your Australian Cattle Dog at risk when the temperature gets hot. It is important for an owner to be aware of the risk factors, signs, and what action to take.
Even though dogs are covered in fur, they are still at risk of sunburn. The most susceptible areas are the nose, ears, and tummy. However, even skin that is covered by fur can still get sunburn. Sunburn for your dog is not only painful but may lead to skin cancer.
Signs of sunburn to be aware of include –
- Dry cracked skin.
- Curling at the tip of the ears
- Constant scratching in tender places accompanied by a whimper or shrinking away.
- Severe sunburn can result in a high temperature
If you suspect your Blue Heeler has been sunburnt, consult your vet. Dogs don’t get sunburnt as easily as humans. Often, more damage has occurred to the skin than you may be able to initially see.
Sunscreen for dogs.
You can use sunscreen on your Blue Heeler, but it is important that you use formulas that are specifically intended for dogs. Sunscreens contain zinc oxide or para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA) is toxic to dogs if ingested. As dogs lick themselves it is likely they will ingest some.
How to apply sunscreen for dogs.
- Test a small amount on one spot to be sure it doesn’t cause an allergic reaction.
- Apply to the areas most exposed to sunshine. – bridge of the nose, tips of the ears, skin around his lips, groin, and inner thighs.
- When applying it to your dog’s head, avoid getting any in his eyes.
- When finished applying the sunscreen, monitor your Blue Heeler to be sure they don’t lick it off until it’s been absorbed (10 to 15 minutes)
You can get a spray-on sunscreen for dogs here on Amazon.
An often overlooked hazard of hot weather for dogs is getting their paws burnt on the hot ground. Concrete, asphalt, and mental manhole covers can reach extremely high temperatures. Always check the temperature of the ground with your hand when going from one surface to another.
Your Blue Heeler can become dehydrated quickly in hot weather due to panting and evaporation through the paws. Signs of dehydration include thick saliva, dry sticky gums, and loss of skin elasticity.
The simplest way to test for dehydration is to check their skin elasticity. To do this gently pull up some of the dog’s skin near their shoulder blades and then let it go. Observe as it falls back into place.
If they are well hydrated, the skin instantly will spring back to its original position. The skin of a dehydrated dog will take longer to fall back into place.
Another way is to check your Blue Heelers gums to feel whether they are sticky or dry. You can test for capillary refill time. Press your finger gently against your dog’s gums and then remove your finger.
If they are well-hydrated the area where you pressed will appear white momentarily, and then return to its normal pink color almost immediately. In a dehydrated dog, the capillary refill time takes much longer.
If you have any concerns consult your vet. The vet may need to inject IV fluids to get fluid back into them.
To learn more about dog hydration and how much water your dog should be drinking see here.
Heatstroke and heat exhaustion are very real dangers for your dog to suffer from. Especially if they are not conditioned to the hot and humid weather. Heatstroke can take several hours before it becomes deadly. Some extreme cases can cause death if the dog doesn’t receive medical care immediately.
Signs that your dog may be overheated include
- excessive whining and fidgeting
- panting with the tongue right out of their mouth and being scooped at the end
- weariness, confusion, sluggish movement
- red gums and tongue.
Other signs to look out for are foaming at the mouth, thickening of the saliva, and breathing difficulties. If your Blue Heeler is showing these signs, contact your vet immediately.
Tips to keep your Blue Heeler cool
These tips will help to keep your Blue Heeler a little cooler and more comfortable when the temperature is getting hot.
Brush and deshed your Blue Heeler
Blue Heelers have a short-medium length double coat. They have a guard coat to protect the skin and a soft undercoat that keeps them warm. When the weather is warmer they shed the undercoat as it is not needed for warmth.
Regular brushing helps remove loose and excessive undercoat. There is quite a range of de-shedding tools for dogs which can be confusing. Different brushes tend to work better on different dogs even those of the same breed.
For tips to deshed your Blue Heeler and recommended brushes see here.
Bathing your Blue Heeler using a de-shedding shampoo will also help to loosen and reduce their undercoat.
Use a cooling aid
Put a T-shirt of your Blue Heeler
The Blue Heeler’s coat really attracts the heat from the sun. By putting a white cotton T-shirt on them, it will reduce this significantly.
Provide Frozen Treats
Freeze a KONGor similar food stuffing toy. You can feel it with dilute beef or chicken stock or natural yogurt. Alternatively, you can put some ice cubes in their drinking water.
How to keep your Blue Heeler cool outside
If your Blue Heeler is to be outside on a hot day ensure they have plenty of water and shade to lay under. Many dogs like to dig a shallow pit to lie in. The soil is cooler and moist just below the surface.
You can also provide them with a kiddie pool to lie and splash around in. You can leave a sprinkler on for them to run under and play or even soak them with a hose.
This dog water sprinkler allows your dog to turn it on and off themselves and play. It attaches to your hose and has a paw pedal so they can turn the water on. Ideal for when the weather is hot keeping them cooler and providing access to fresh flowing water to keep them hydrated.
Another really effective idea is to use a Misting System. You can attach it to the top of the fence or kennel run. A misting system vaporizes mist instantaneously and lowers air temperature by up to 20 degrees Fahrenheit, leaving the entire surroundings breezier and more comfortable for your dog.
View this misting system on Amazon
How to keep your Blue Heeler cool inside the house
Keeping your Blue Heeler cool inside the house is easy if you have air conditioning. However, if you don’t there are a few simple things you can do to help.
- Use an electric fan in the area they are.
- Keep them downstairs if you live in a two-storey house. Warm air rises, so the lower level of the house will be cooler.
- Close the curtains and blinds. By keeping the sun out of the house it will not get as hot to start with.
How to exercise your Blue Heeler in hot weather
Even when the weather is hot, your Blue Heeler will still require daily exercise. It should be more moderate than usual and precaution needs to be taken. For a full guide to Blue Heeler exercise with suggestions see here.
Some more ideas for exercising your Blue Heeler in hot weather include –
Mental stimulation and enrichment.
Mentally stimulating activities can use just as much energy and tire your dog as much as physical exercise. They will also help to prevent boredom which can result in behavior issues. See here for more on mental stimulation and enrichment for Blue Heelers.
Exercise and play inside.
Exercising in the comfort of air conditioning is ideal. There are plenty of games and activities that your dog can do indoors such as fetch, tug of war, or hide and seek to name a few. If you have stairs in your house they can be a good way to get your dog moving while building strength.
Plan walks for the cooler times of the day.
Try to schedule their walks early in the morning or later in the evening. This will avoid them being out at the peak of the sun.
Several shorter sessions.
Give your Australian Cattle Dog a couple of short walks or exercise sessions throughout the day to avoid them getting too hot from one strenuous session.
Dog daycare and indoor training facilities
Consider a dog daycare for a few days a week or an indoor training facility or dog gym if they are available in your area. Alternatively, arrange playtime with another dog if you know another dog owner who may have a good setup for hot weather such as a large basement.
Summary – Keeping your Blue Heeler safe in hot weather
Australian Cattle Dogs are fairly tolerant of warmer or even hot weather. However, when the temperature is above around 55 to 70F (13 to 20 degrees) precautions should be taken to keep them comfortable and safe. Potential hazards can include overheating or heat stroke, sunburn, and burnt paws.