Keeping a Dog Cool in Hot Weather

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Summertime is a great time for dogs. They’re able to go outside more often, and they get to play for hours in the yard. However, while we all love warmer weather, some days can get pretty hot, which can make staying cool difficult for your dog.

You see, dogs aren’t able to cool off by sweating like we do. Instead, they pant, which isn’t really efficient on the hottest summer days. But that’s okay, because there are plenty of things you can do to keep your pup safe in the heat!

In this post, I’ll share 12 tips for keeping a dog cool in hot weather. You’ll also learn how to know when your dog might be starting to overheat, and what you should do in such a situation.

Keeping a Dog Cool in Hot Weather: Here’s How to Do It Right

1. Know the Signs of Overheating

First and foremost, you need to know how to recognize if your dog is in distress. Our dogs can’t tell us how they feel, but they can certainly show us.

Recommended reading: Why Do Dogs Stick Their Tongue Out?

Pay close attention to your dog in the heat, and be on the lookout for any of the early symptoms of heatstroke. These include:

  • Heavy panting
  • Excess drooling
  • Increased heart rate
  • Dark red tongue
  • Pale gums
  • General weakness
  • Vomiting

If you notice any of the following signs, you need to cool your dog down immediately and contact your vet.

Take a look at this video on how to cool a dog down quickly.

2. Keep the House Cool

In the summer, the best thing you can do for you and your dog is to turn on the air conditioning. Of course, a fan is also fine, but make sure to close all the blinds to keep the worst of the heat out.

This is even more important if you need to leave your pup alone in the warmer months, as you won’t be around to stop him from overheating. Normally, anywhere between 78-80 degrees Fahrenheit is a good room temperature for most dogs.

What If I Have a Kennel?

If your dog is kept outside, you need to make a few adjustments to his kennel to make sure he can escape from the heat.

  1. Move the kennel away from direct sun and into a shaded area. If your dog is sleeping in a dog pen, you should use a shade cover to block the sun’s rays.
  2. Lift the dog house about 30cm above the ground using brick pavers. This allows increased air circulation, which will disperse the heat.
  3. Consider getting a self-cooling mat, as well as a crate fan, or a fan bracket to install your own cooling fan onto the kennel.
  4. Be sure to replace your old dog plastic crate with an insulated plastic crate or a wooden kennel. These are better for staying cool in the summer and warm in the winter.

On days where it’s extremely hot outside, allow your dog to come inside where it’s cooler.

3. Provide a Shady Place Outside

Dogs who live outdoors, as well as those who like to spend a lot of time outdoors, must have some shade to retreat to.

Whether it’s a dog crate, a playpen with a cover, or even a shade tree, make sure your pup has a dark and cool place where he can lay down and unwind, without being exposed to direct sunlight.

4. Walk Your Dog During the Cooler Hours

During the summertime, you should avoid walking your dog in the hottest hours of the day. Instead, take him out early in the morning, when it’s not that hot, and again in the evening, as the sun is setting.

Aside from risking heatstroke, your dog won’t have to deal with the hot pavement that can hurt his paws. In extreme heat, it’s also a good idea to have pee pads around, just in case.

5. Keep Fresh Water Available

Whether your dog is inside the house or playing in the backyard, always offer plenty of fresh water to keep him cool and hydrated. I’d even suggest having multiple water stations around the house to get your dog to drink more water.

Be sure to check the water bowls from time to time, and refill them whenever needed. Also, take a dog water bottle with you on walks, and when you go to the park.

6. Put Ice Cubes in Your Dog’s Water

A few cubes of ice is an excellent way to keep your dog’s water cool. Some dogs like to lick or chew the ice cubes as well, which is a great way for them to cool down.

You don’t have to worry about ice cubes causing bloating in dogs. But be sure to keep an eye on your dog while he plays with the ice, just in case he decides to swallow a large piece.

7. Make Homemade Frozen Treats

Take advantage of the fact that your dog loves food, and give him a water-rich, cold treat. You can be creative here, just be careful not to feed him something he shouldn’t eat.

Want some examples? No problem!

8. Invest in a Dog Pool

If your dog loves water, nothing beats cooling off in a pool on a warm day. However, you need to get one that’s made specifically for dogs, so it won’t tear or leak while your pup jumps in and out of the water.

Look for a durable tub that’s also portable, as well as easy to set up and drain once you’re done. If you like, you can even use it to bathe your furry friends outside.

That said, pools aren’t a good fit for dogs who are afraid of water.

9. Brush Your Dog Regularly

Brushing your dog in the heat of summer can help tremendously, especially if he’s got a heavy coat. When you groom your dog, you’re helping him get rid of loose hair and knots that can suffocate the skin and prevent ventilation.

Therefore, take a few minutes each day to brush your pup, and don’t let excess fur and tangles accumulate.

10. Don’t Shave Your Dog

Our pets’ coats not only help them to trap cool air, but shaving them during the summer can actually lead to sunburns, and other sun damage. Unless your dog’s hair is seriously matted, there’s no good reason to shave him.

With one exception — dog breeds that don’t shed like Maltese, Shih Tzu, and Yorkshire should get a shorter summer cut to prevent knots. But make sure to use a natural pet sunscreen on exposed areas, such as your dog’s nose and ears.

11. Try Other Dog Cooling Products

As I mentioned before, you can use a cooling mat to prevent your dog from overheating in his kennel, but there are many other cooling products available as well.

From cooling collars to cooling jackets, and even cooling bandanas. These items can come in really handy when it starts to warm up.

Also, while they’re not actually cooling products, dog booties and paw waxes are both great ways to protect your dog paw pads from the hot ground.

12. Never, Ever Leave Your Dog in a Hot Car

Dogs should never be left in a car alone, even when it doesn’t seem to be that hot outside. On an 80-degree day, the temperature in a car can easily go up to 99 degrees within 10 minutes. Be sure to keep that in mind.

If you see a dog in a hot car, try to quickly find his owners. If you can’t, call the authorities. The most important is that you don’t leave until help arrives.

If the dog is starting to show signs of heatstroke, you should consider getting him out yourself. Then, take the pup someplace cooler, give him water, and wait until the owners or the police arrive.

About the author

Li-ran Bukovza

Li-ran believes that our dogs can teach us more than we could ever teach them. He's fascinated by the dog-human bond and loves researching and writing about new pet trends. With the help of Richie (his trusty Maltese sidekick), he hopes to help as many people as possible understand the beautiful, complex world of canine companionship.