Dogs don’t have sweat glands like humans, and therefore, their pink tongues act as an internal cooling device. In a way, a tongue acts like air conditioning to control a dog’s body temperature.
Panting helps to circulate cool air and aids by evaporating water from the upper respiratory tract and mouth. It’s an effective way, but sometimes this system needs a boost.
The other cooling mechanism in a dog is its paw pads, so extra care to keep them cool is vital during hot weather. Walking on hot pavement is like walking barefoot on hot coals.
During hot days, our dogs need help cooling down and regulating their core body temperature. To help keep your dogs cool, we’ve compiled the best tips to prevent heat stroke during extreme heat if the air conditioner is on the fritz.
Here is a list of helpful tips to stay cool in the summer!
How to Keep Dogs Cooler in the Summer
There once was a Doberman Pinscher named Fraser who enjoyed cooling off in any roadside puddles and the kiddie pool his pet parents filled daily with cold water. Fraser was a red and tan Dobbie and still thought the Canadian summers were too hot. Imagine how a German Shepherd or Bernese Mountain dog must feel.
Here is a list of expert tips on how to chill our pooches and keep them protected and healthy.
Ensure an Ample Supply of Cool and Fresh Water Is Accessible
Regardless of where you are, at home, in the car, on the beach, or on a hiking trail, ensure your pooch has access to plenty of cold water. Keeping hydrated is the number one method to prevent heatstroke.
Tips to keep in mind while enjoying outdoor activities:
- Avoid ocean water as it can be fatal in dogs
- Teach a pup at a young age to drink from a water bottle
- Use portable collapsible water bowls
- Watch for symptoms of dehydration, diarrhea, vomiting, lethargy
- River, lake, or rainwater puddles may contain E.coli
- Control water intake–too much can cause other problems like vomiting or bloat
- ½ to 1 ounce of water per pound of dog weight is recommended (more in extreme heat); use our dog water intake calculator to stay informed
- Limit high-energy activities
Frozen Treats and Toys
Spoiling our dogs with treats is natural, and on hot days, use cold or frozen rewards like pupsicles, frozen chew toys, and dog-friendly ice cream.
It’s super easy to make these DIY treats and freeze them:
- No-salt beef or chicken broth cubes
- Non-dairy ice cream made with banana, melon, berry, and carrots
- Dog-safe peanut butter cubes
- Freeze treats in ice cubes
Making frozen treats helps a dog stay cool on a hot day, bringing joy to a dog’s life. Even for those who aren’t chefs, these treats are super easy to make and store and don’t require complicated ingredients.
Avoid Taking Dogs for Walks in Hot Weather
Although exercise is crucial for a dog’s health, in hot weather, it can lead to dangerous consequences. Avoid the mid-day sun, and in some areas, the mid-afternoon sun is also extreme. Direct exposure to sunlight can lead to skin cancer in dogs, especially those with smooth, thin coats like Grey Hounds, hairless, Whippets, Dalmations, and many other breeds.
Sunscreen or sun protective coats are an option, but remember that a dog’s paws are also a cooling device, so walking on hot pavement will sunburn their pads. Asphalt will absorb heat all day and store it.
Instead, go for early morning or late evening walks when everything has had a chance to cool down. Use preventative measures, as mosquitos and other insects will also be out. To keep your dog secure on these walks, try one of the 8 best dog harnesses that make walking more comfortable for both of you.
If you must walk your dog, put safety measures in place and keep the dog and yourself from becoming dehydrated and risk suffering dangerous heatstroke.
Arrange Water Sports
Water sports are fun for the entire family. However, keep an eye on your pooch and stop it from using the ocean or lake as a water bowl.
- Protect your dog’s skin with sunscreen and insect repellent
- Limit sun exposure regardless
- Provide sunshade
- Use a wet towel as a base to cool down
- Provide frozen or cold snacks
- Don’t over exercise
- Some vets suggest bringing a digital thermometer
Be Vigilant for Signs of Heat Stroke in Your Dog
If your family is planning a day of summer fun, think of Rover. Your canine will want to participate in the fun but may not have an off switch and recognize signs of heatstroke.
A dog may suddenly lag and drop its ears and tails. Those are classic signs of heatstroke. Senior dogs and puppies are at more risk, but so are dogs with dark, thick coats. Get the dog away from the intense summer heat, provide cool water, and get them into a room or vehicle with air conditioning.
Know the signs of heatstroke:
- Overactive excessive panting and salivating
- Enlarged drooping tongue
- Signs of discomfort
- Vomiting and diarrhea
Provide immediate cooling relief like air conditioning, a cold, wet blanket to lay on, cooling their paws, armpits, and chest. Rinse their mouth with cold water. If a dog’s temperature goes above 104, it’s time to assess the situation closely. A dog’s temperature can fluctuate dramatically, and having a digital thermometer with you is handy. Call the vet immediately for more advice.
Heatstroke symptoms might appear a few hours or days after exposure.
Don’t Leave Your Dog Alone in the Car
This needs to be repeated every summer. Often the nightly news reminds us of individuals who have not heard this advice. A hot car is a death trap even with the window cracked in warm weather.
A parked car in the hot sun can reach internal temperatures of 131°F to 172°F on days with 80°F to 100°F. Overcast days can raise car interiors to dangerous levels and increase a dog’s internal heat. Additionally, humid weather can add a higher risk to some dog breeds with lung and breathing issues.
Engage Them in Mental Activities Rather than in Physical Ones
Mental games are great for summer and those cold winter days. Dogs will do just about anything for their pet parents, and downtime is a great time to work on manners, skills, and fun games. Playing also helps to forge that human-canine bond.
- Hide and seek or go find it with treats and toys
- Teach new tricks like shaking a paw, rolling over, etc
- Word games work to teach your dog names for their toys, household items, etc
- The shell game (so much fun)
- Work on an obstacle course but keep energy low
- Use electronic dog toys
- Play low-action games like tug, and fetch in a confined space
- It’s okay to take a day off and chill
Exercise at Cooler Day times Should Be Preferred
Your dog must move, so choose exercise time in the early morning or late at night. Depending on geography, that’s not always doable. However, are there any dog-friendly malls or stores that you can walk your dog at (minus the pooping)? Public indoor activities are also a great opportunity to work on skills and socialization.
Keep Your Dog Healthy
Keeping your dog healthy is an essential part of pet ownership. An overweight dog might experience heat differently and exhibit more pronounced signs of overheating and fatigue.
Healthy means routine exercise, good grooming habits, a healthy diet, and mental stimulation.
Regular Bathing and Grooming Needs
Dogs have grooming needs regardless of their breed or fur. Most dogs don’t need a weekly bath; a rough towel and a quality brush are all that most dogs need for routine grooming. Summer months also come with other grooming needs, like checking for fleas and ticks, which can be prolific in backyards.
Check for ticks:
- Along the nape and between shoulder blades
- Beneath the armpits
- Inside ears
- Along the gum line (yes)
- Between the paws
Remove ticks carefully like in this video.
Dogs with pronounced skin folds, like Frenchies, Bulldogs, and Sharpeis require extra maintenance.
If you must bathe your dog, use a gentle shampoo and rinse thoroughly.
Dogs with dark nails will also require more frequent nail clipping. And all dogs benefit from having their ears examined for mites and other insects. Only clean the outside, and don’t use a cotton swab on the interior of the ear canal.
How to Keep Dogs Cool Outside
If you have an outside dog, ensure they have access to cool spaces and provide shade to escape the heat, especially during the hottest parts of the day. Some areas of a property can become suntraps during warm temperatures. Provide plenty of fresh water.
Ensuring Proper Airflow in Dog Houses
If your pup likes to hang out in the dog house, install a vent that creates an airflow for ventilation. Traditional dog houses aren’t built with airflow. So make sure your dog’s house is in a shaded area and that your dog frequently accesses the fresh water bowl and cools off in the shade or a cool pad.
Creating Shaded and Hydrating Environments
Direct sunlight creates immense heat, and your dog might not understand the consequences of laying on a heat-absorbing cement pad.
- Use umbrellas, tarps, and plants to create shade
- Provide plenty of fresh or ice water
- Use a wet blanket or damp towel to reduce body temperature
- Run the sprinkler or get them into the shower
These tips can make all the difference and help dissipate heat and prevent heatstroke.
Provide a Paddling Pool for Your Dog
Kiddie or wading pools designed for infants and toddlers are perfect for dogs to cool off. They are inexpensive and reusable.
Keep them clean and add fresh water, as they may build up algae, and your dog will mistake it for a giant water bowl.
How to Cool Your Dog Down
There are many great tips to help your dog cool down, and most are easy to use.
A cooling crate pad works great for kennels, and even the best indoor kennel can adapt easily to fit these. In a pinch, a wet towel will help your dog to cool off. Getting your dog to stand on a wet cloth will help cool their paw pads and reduce their temperature.
Use of Fans
Battery-operated fans are great if you’re outdoors, but indoors, switch on the oscillating fan and place it near your resting dog. Circulating air is an excellent method to drop the temperature and improve air quality and create an overall feeling of staying cool.
If you have neither fan, you can fan an overheating dog the old-fashioned way with a piece of cardboard or a folded newspaper.
Use of Cooling Vest
Cooling vests use a water-retaining fabric that creates a cooling effect through the evaporation process. They are made of mesh layers and shouldn’t contain chemicals. Additionally, they cover a dog’s exposed back and act as sunscreen.
Gently Caressing Alcohol
Some vets recommend a dab of rubbing alcohol behind a dog’s ears, stomach, or paws. Rubbing alcohol evaporates quickly and helps disperse heat. However, use caution and don’t allow a dog to lick the treated area.
A spray bottle filled with cold water is an effective and inexpensive way to treat your hot dog with a cool burst of refreshing water. Spray their tender groin area or feet; most dogs might not appreciate getting sprayed in the face, and others will make a game out of it.
Unflavored Electrolyte Solution
Dehydration can lead to other health problems, and if your dog becomes dehydrated, add unflavored electrolytes available in most pharmacies in the baby section.
Keep on Monitoring the Dog’s Body Temperature
If you’re worried about your dog, keep an eye on its core body temperature. You can use a digital thermometer and gauge the temperature inside the ear canal (don’t insert it too deep). The other method is a petroleum jelly-lubricated rectal thermometer. Either read the temperature and alerts you to potential problems. Temps between 102°F and 104°F are typical.
Importance of Keeping Your Dog Cool in Summer
Dogs are not designed for heat. Their cooling mechanics rely on their tongue and paws to cool them down, and then there’s that thick fur coat they wear. Even for short-haired dogs dogs get hot.
Keeping a dog cool prevents many problems like heatstroke, vomiting, diarrhea, and seizures. Some dog breeds displace heat better than others. Monitoring your dog and preventing overexposure to direct sunlight and heat is crucial.
Keeping a dog cool can be simple or as complex as you want. There are hundreds of tips like staying indoors during the hottest hours and having many water breaks.
How to Keep Your Dog Cool in Summer Without Ac?
Providing shade, a cooling blanket, plenty of fresh cold water, and frozen snacks are common tips. Avoid walking during mid-day and on hot asphalt, and never leave a dog in a car. Use an oscillating fan to create airflow.
How to Cool Down a Panting Dog?
Provide fresh water, stop or limit activity, move to a shaded or air-conditioned space, and pat the chest, belly, and groin with a cold, wet cloth.
How Long Does It Take for a Dog to Cool Down?
On average, expect 15 to 30 minutes, but it can depend on the dog and the situation. If a dog is overheating, it’s vital to cool and calm them down quickly but without shocking their systems. Use any or a combination of helpful hints in this text. If your dog doesn’t cool down, contact your veterinarian.
How to Keep Dogs Cool in a Car?
Air conditioning is a great way, and opting to crack the window while in motion helps to draw fresh air in. Some dogs pant in the car out of anxiety; therefore, training a dog at a young age helps, but it doesn’t always work.
Also, provide intermittent water while traveling.
How Do Dogs Cool Off?
Dogs have a unique cooling system. They use their tongues and paw pad to cool off. You can help them by providing fresh water, frozen treats, cooling vests and wet blankets, and access to shade. Postpone activities and sports until the temperature drops.
Final Thought on Keeping Dogs Cool
Summer is all about family fun and enjoying the relatively short season. To keep a pup stay cool might depend on the dog’s breed, age, weight, and health condition. The above tips are a guide from trusted resources, but your vet is also an invaluable help.
My Dobbie Fraser was an active dog with a penchant for digging for gophers, annoying his older brother, Cooper, and using his ice-cold wading pool to refresh himself. Unlike humans, dogs can’t use tools to gauge the high humidity on warm days. They don’t always understand when to drink and when it’s too much water. They need our general rule of common sense.