Puppy Potty Training During Heatwaves: Keeping Your Puppy Comfortable and Safe

A white fluffy puppy relaxes in the shade during a hot sunny day

A white fluffy puppy relaxes in the shade during a hot sunny day.

Puppy potty training can be a bit of a daunting task in itself, but doing so during a heatwave is extra challenging! It’s important to be mindful of the hot temperature as it can pose a health risk to your pooch. Hot summer days increase your puppy’s risk of heat stroke/exhaustion, burnt paw pads, dehydration, increased breathing difficulty (in brachycephalic breeds such as bulldogs, pugs, and Boston terriers) and more. We want to help you keep your puppy as safe as possible during heatwaves, so let’s discuss how we can prioritize your pup’s comfort and safety during those hot summer days!

Puppy Potty Training Considerations

Puppy potty training can differ slightly depending on your pup’s age, but the general concept is the same- getting them to use the bathroom outside as soon as possible!

Generally, the older your puppy is, the longer they can hold their bladder. A good rule of thumb is that your puppy can hold their urine for one hour for each month of age, so if they are 2 months old, then they can hold their urine for up to two hours. That being said, that is not always the case as accidents do happen. For the first few months of life, if possible, it is a good idea to take your puppy outside within 15-20 minutes of: waking-up, playing, eating, or drinking. Which definitely sounds like a lot, but puppies need to go to the bathroom pretty frequently! As your puppy gets older, they will require fewer bathroom breaks and you’ll get to know them and their bathroom habits.

When you are potty training during a heatwave, there are some tips to take into consideration:

  • Do not spend tons of time outside during a heatwave. Simply let your puppy go pee or poop and come right back inside. Do not let your pup dictate how much time they spend outside, as some breeds will stay out well beyond their tolerance level which leaves them highly susceptible to heat exhaustion/stroke
  • Do not walk your puppy on pavement or sidewalks during a heatwave. These surfaces can be super hot and can burn the pads of their paws. If you’re unsure if it’s too hot, place the back of your hand on the asphalt for 7 seconds. If you can’t do that comfortably then it’s too hot!
  • Take them outside in shaded areas, on the grass
  • Have water available to them at all times, and offer it to them once they come back inside
  • Try to take them out during cooler times of day such as the morning and evenings
  • Utilize alternatives to going outside to use the bathroom, such as pee pads or a Porch Potty! This will provide them with a place to relieve themselves while being safely out of the heat.
  • Do not let your pet swim in water then walk on warm pavement as this can cause their paw pads to become physically damaged.
  • Pay attention to the temperature and humidity before taking your pup out. At first glance a 70°F day may seem tolerable, but once you consider humidity, it can make for an extremely hot day.
  • Remember, if it’s too hot for you to spend time outside, then it’s probably too hot for them too!

A dog drinks water from a water bottle

A copper red dog drinks water that is being poured out of a clear water bottle. 

Effect of Heatwaves On Puppy Potty Training

Heatwaves in general shouldn’t really affect your pup’s ability to potty train. It will make your trips outside much shorter, but won’t affect how long they can hold their bladder. That being said, if your pup is drinking more water due to the warm weather, then they will need to urinate more often, so be prepared that accidents may happen! You may notice that your pup doesn’t even want to go outside as some breeds aren’t fans of any amount of heat, so they may be reluctant to go outside just for that quick bathroom break, which can be a bit challenging and may lead to more accidents in the house. If that is the case, then remain consistent with your pup by placing them outside for a few moments to potty, and continue to be patient with them as they are learning to navigate the different types of weather.

The Ideal Outdoor Puppy Potty Area During a Heatwave

As discussed above, we want to create a safe and comfortable place for your pup to relieve themselves during heatwaves! The ideal potty area during a heatwave would consist of a well-shaded grassy or turfed area. Here are our tips for creating the perfect potty area:

  • Create a potty area under a mature tree, umbrella, or canopy to provide shade for your pup to protect them from the sun.
  • Utilize grass or turf so that their paws don’t get burned.
  • Ensure your potty area does not have pavement in it as it can get very hot and may burn their paws.
  • Have drinking water available to your pup at all times.

A black and tan puppy lays down on a Porch Potty

A black and tan puppy lays down on a Porch Potty, a raised patch of grass in a wooden frame, inside of a kitchen.

Indoor Potty Area

An indoor potty area isn’t just a good idea during heatwaves, but can be great to have as an option on an everyday basis as well. This can make potty training a bit easier as there is always an option for your pet to go to the bathroom inside, which should reduce accidents! For an indoor potty area, you could utilize the Porch Potty or pee pads. Some dogs aren’t keen on going to the bathroom on pee pads, and some may find it a bit confusing with trying to train them to use grass outside and pee pads inside since they look so different from one another. Moreover, if you have a large breed dog, a pee pad may not be able to hold the amount of urine that they produce. The Porch Potty is a great option because whether you use turf or grass, it looks and feels super similar and will reduce confusion for your pup! Plus, it is easy to clean, can hold a lot of urine in the basin, and it can also be used inside or outside!

Living In An Area That Is Always Hot

If you’re in a part of the country that is always hot, you may find that every day is a heatwave! In that case it is very important to monitor your pet’s wellbeing very closely while outside. Here are some extra tips and considerations for those who live different areas of the country that are experiencing hot climates:

  • Pay attention to the humidity, as this can really make the weather intolerable for your pet.
  • Have air conditioning and fans available as these will help your pet cool down both before and after going outside.
  • To increase their water intake, consider having cooled water bowls and/or water fountains.
  • Offer cooling toys. There are toys that you can soak in water and freeze for your pet to play with/chew on to keep them extra cool
  • Consider purchasing a cooling mat. You fill these with water and your pet can lay on it to cool off.
  • Purchase umbrella(s) or a canopy to provide extra shade.
  • Consider purchasing a dog stroller so that your pet can enjoy the outdoors in a shaded buggy without having to exert too much energy (but still ensure that you don’t stay out for long periods of time).
  • Consider a small pool for your backyard. Even just a tiny kiddie pool so that your dog has a place to cool off (but always monitor them while they’re in it!).

A cocker spaniel sits before a fan to cool off

A brown cocker spaniel with its tongue out lays down in front of a small white fan in front of a hot pink background.

Heat Exhaustion/Stroke

If you are worried that your pet may be suffering from heat exhaustion or heat stroke, please reach out to your veterinarian as soon as possible! Some common signs of heat exhaustion include but are not limited to:

  • Lethargy
  • Red gums and tongue
  • Excessive panting
  • Increased heart rate
  • Vomiting
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Lack of coordination
  • Drooling
  • Seizure
  • Unconsciousness

Final Thoughts

Puppy potty training is super important, but doing it safely and comfortably is even more important! We definitely don’t want to compromise their health during a heatwave, for the sake of potty training. Be sure to follow the expert tips mentioned above to ensure that your pup is getting potty trained safely. Remember, shaded areas away from pavement, offering water, and spending short durations of time outside is of the utmost importance! If you think that your pup is suffering from any signs of heat exhaustion, reach out to your veterinarian as soon as possible.

For more information on potty training your puppy, visit these links:

Potty Training on Fast Forward: The Quickest Way to Potty Train Your Puppy

Potty Training for Pooches: How to Create a Comfortable and Effective Potty Spot

Potty Training Made Easy: How to Train Your Puppy to Use Puppy Pee Pads

Jennifer Sawyer, Fourth Year Veterinary Student

Jennifer Sawyer, Fourth Year Veterinary Student at Ontario Veterinary College. Jenny, or @vetstudentjenny on Instagram, has been passionate about the veterinary industry for over a decade.

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