How to Keep Dogs Cool During the Summer Months

dog wearing sunglasses and a hat

With summer just around the corner, it’s time to start thinking about things you can do to ensure your dog stays cool when temperatures start to soar. Extreme heat can cause a lot of problems for dogs and can even put their health in jeopardy. To prevent your dog from suffering any ill effects from summer’s powerful heat, here are some of our best tips to keep your dog cool as a cucumber in the summer months. 

How Do Dogs Cool Their Own Bodies?

Dogs have several different ways they cool down their bodies when feeling too hot. The primary way a dog reduces its body temperature is through panting. Moisture dissipates on the tongue, through the nasal passages, and also via the lungs each time a dog pants. This air circulation helps the body to regulate its temperature, and as a result, your dog begins to feel cooler. 

Dogs also release some moisture and heat through their paw pads. Standing on cool earth can help to bring down the body temperature some and is a better option than cement, tarmac, or asphalt on hot summer days. 

Are There Specific Things I Can Do to Help My Dog Beat the Heat?

There are many different strategies you can put in place to help keep your dog from becoming overheated during the summer. These include:

  • Staying in the shade

If out on a walk or playing in the backyard, you can help reduce the heat’s effects on your dog by sticking to areas that offer the best shade. It is also a good idea to make a concerted effort to avoid direct sunlight exposure as much as possible.

  • Keep damp towels handy

Ensuring you have a steady supply of damp towels on hand is a great idea, allowing you to provide a spot for your dog to lay on to cool down his belly, and thus, reduce his body temperature.

  • Make use of a sprinkler

Turning on your garden sprinkler offers your dog the chance to run through the water’s flow to cool down if feeling overheated.

  • Fill a kid’s pool with cool water

A kid’s pool filled with cool, refreshing water allows your dog to take a dip whenever the mood strikes. It is important if you opt to allow your dog to swim in a kid’s pool that you provide appropriate supervision as dogs can drown if the water is too deep, or they slip and become injured.

  • Use cooling coats, bandanas, or mats

Cooling coats, bandanas, and mats can be a great help when temperatures start to soar. These items are designed to help remove heat from the body, expelling it through the fabric into the environment. However, they work best when the air is not heavily laden with moisture as a result of excessively high humidity.

What About Dogs and Cars in the Summer?

Dogs should never be left in a vehicle during the summer months. Cars absorb heat and becoming untenably hot quickly which could cause your dog serious harm and even lead to dehydration and death.

Though some dog owners feel if their car is in the shade and the windows are partially open their dogs should be okay, this is not a risk that is worth taking. If your dog becomes stressed in your absence, panic will set in which can lead to increases in body temperature and intense feelings of anxiety. If you must go out, leave your dog at home or bring along a friend who can sit in the car with your dog with the air conditioning going while you run your errand.

A dog left alone in a hot car could be an emergency. If you see a dog in a vehicle that appears to be overheated or exhibiting signs of severe distress, try to locate the dog’s owner. If you are unable to locate the owner, calling 911 in the case of a true emergency is the best course of action. 

How Important is Water on a Hot Day?

A steady supply of clean drinking water is very important to keep your dog healthy and properly hydrated. However, this access to water becomes even more important in the summer months to ensure overheating and dehydration do not occur. It is a good idea to always carry a bottle of water and a drinking vessel with you for your dog drink from when out on your daily walks. 

It’s Really Hot Out—When is the Best Time to Walk My Dog?

The hottest time of day is the middle of the afternoon, meaning dog walking is best reserved for early in the morning or later in the evening. Experts agree that 3 pm is the hottest part of the day, and thus, walking your dog during this time should be avoided. 

If It’s Too Hot to Go for a Walk, How Can I Keep My Dog from Getting Bored?

Teaching your dog some new games that he can enjoy outside without having to exert himself in the heat is a great way to get in some activity when it’s too hot for a walk. Here are a few ideas of fun things you can do with your dog when extreme heat prevents spending much time in the great outdoors: 

  • Hide and seek

Strategically scatter treats throughout your yard in highly shaded areas and let your dog have a ball using his nose to find them all. 

  • Put fun pool toys in a wading pool

If your dog isn’t necessarily a fan of swimming, buy some fun pool toys that can you place inside the pool to encourage your dog to climb in and enjoy some playtime.

  • Food puzzles

Freeze something yummy inside a Kong or purchase food puzzles that you can put treats into to help your dog use his brain and his jaws when running around for play is not an option. 

Will Proper Grooming Help Keep My Dog Cooler in the Summer?

Each dog breed has a specific coat type that requires unique care for the dog to remain warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Your groomer can help you understand the best clip for your dog to keep him comfortable in the summer months. Some dogs should be clipped right down while others benefit from maintaining their undercoat to provide insulation against the heat of summer. 

Does My Dog Need Sunscreen When Outdoors in the Heat of Summer?

Dogs can benefit from the application of sunscreen in the summer months. However, it is important that you purchase sun protection designed specifically for dogs in order for it to be safe and effective. Many pet shops carry sunscreen for dogs, and your veterinarian may also be able to point you in the right direction. 

How Do I Protect My Dog’s Feet from Hot Asphalt?

Asphalt, tarmac, cement, and other hard surfaces get extremely hot and can cause damage to your dog’s sensitive paw pads. The best course of action to keep your dog’s paws from becoming injured during the hot summer months is to test the temperature against your own skin before embarking on a walk. If the surface feels too hot to the touch, it is too hot for your dog as well. Under these circumstances, it is best to wait until a cooler time of day or to forego the walk altogether. 

How Can I Tell if My Dog Has Heat Stroke?

Heatstroke is a very real problem for dogs when temperatures become extreme. When a dog becomes too hot, there is a danger they will succumb to heatstroke. Heatstroke can occur when a dog’s temperature surpasses 106 degrees F. Sadly, at 107 degrees F, an incremental increase, organ failure and death are very real possibilities.  When a dog is experiencing heatstroke, they lose their ability to naturally reduce the heat found within the body. Because of this, it is important for you to know and be able to recognize the symptoms of heatstroke in a dog.

Among the symptoms that can indicate heatstroke are:

  • Excessive panting
  • Glassy eyes
  • Rapid pulse
  • Extreme salivation
  • Loss of coordination
  • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • Loss of consciousness 

What Can I Do if My Dog Has Heatstroke?

If you suspect your dog may be suffering from heatstroke, time is of the essence. Remove your dog from the heat into an area that is cool and out of direct sunlight. Using cold, wet towels, wrap your dog’s head, neck, and chest to help reduce his body temperature. Provide access to water or offer him an ice cube to gently lick. Avoid extreme changes of temperature as this could cause your dog to enter a state of shock. 

Looking forward to enjoying the dog days of summer with your best canine pal? Follow our top tips to help keep Fido cool as a cucumber and ready to enjoy the great outdoors when temperatures are on the rise!

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