How to Keep Your Dog Cool in the Summer

Summertime, and the living’s easy – and long days outdoors with the family dog are no exception to the fun! However, for pet parents who count a four-legged friend as part of the brood, it’s essential to follow certain precautions to keep pups safe and healthy as the weather warms up. Read on for helpful hints and learn how to keep dogs cool in summer.

Keeping Your Dog Cool In The Heat: Top 10 Tips

Now that the temperatures have started to rise and the air conditioners have been dragged out of storage and placed into windows, it should come as no surprise that dogs are seeking respite from the heat as much as their human counterparts. Whereas people are able cool down via perspiration through their skin, dogs regulate their body temperatures by panting. By panting, a canine is able to swiftly exchange the hot air from their lungs with cool external air, which expedites the process of evaporation of water from their tongue, inside their mouth and towards their upper respiratory tract. Consequently, the water evaporates, enabling the dog to regulate his body temperature while providing some relief. And although panting might help a dog to cool down a little bit, for pooches sporting thick coats of fur, the summer months can become even more grueling. Below, some useful tips to keep canines cool and comfortable all summer long:

1.)    Never leave your dog in a vehicle: Even if it’s only a quick stop to a convenience store, never, ever leave dogs unattended in a closed vehicle. It doesn’t matter if it isn’t super hot out, either – inside a closed car with the windows rolled up, the temperatures can soar sky high in a very short span of time. For example, did you know that a car can reach up to 102 degrees F within 10 minutes on an 85 degree day – and that’s with the window cracked? If you do the math, the car’s interior can reach temps of up to 120 degrees in just 30 minutes. Therefore, it’s always best to play it safe with pets – leave dogs at home whenever possible, or only bring him along when he can safely come inside with you. Check out this list of the top 25 most dog-friendly stores in America for canine-centric outings!   

2.)    Hone in on humidity: When it comes to weather-related issues and doggie health, it’s not just about the temperature in the summertime – pet parents need to be mindful of the humidity levels, too. Once the humidity levels go up, it often goes hand in hand with poor air quality – which can mean trouble to both people and animals, especially those with respiratory disorders. When the atmosphere is full of moisture, dogs may not be able to cool off enough on their own through panting alone. In fact, trying to stay cool in humid weather can actually raise a dog’s temperature, which may even lead to heatstroke. The best prescription for comfy canines? Keep dogs inside, and limit their physical activity, too – especially for pooches who are allergy prone, geriatric, overweight, or diagnosed with any type of respiratory illness.

3.)    Watch for signs of heat stroke: As close as pet parents are with their fur babies, dogs have an unfortunate disadvantage: they can’t tell their humans when they’re not feeling well. Therefore, it’s imperative to keep an eye out for heat strokes in dogs, which may have the following symptoms:

In the event that any of the above signs or symptoms are observed, be sure to take the dog to the vet immediately.

4.)    Keep dogs hydrated: Drinking plenty of water doesn’t just apply to people – it’s important to keep pups hydrated in the hot summer months, too! While it’s great for furry friends to get their daily dose of fun in the sun – including walks, frolicking in the park, and even a monitored dip in the family pool – don’t leave pooches alone outside for an extended amount of time when the temps are high. Signs of canine dehydration may include the following:

  • Depression
  • Dry mouth
  • Lethargy
  • Sunken eyes

For pups enjoying nature, be sure to offer him plenty of fresh water; drop a few ice cubes to keep his bowl cool and refreshing. Find him a shady spot so he doesn’t overheat – did you know that hanging out beneath a tree is actually better than his dog house in the summer months? That’s because dog houses can actually trap the heat and prevent cool air from flowing through. Another canine-cooling option: set up a kiddie pool or a sprinkler for dogs to beat the heat!  If signs of dehydration are observed, it’s best to take the dog to a trusted vet right away.

5.)    Groom for comfort: For dogs with long hair, thick fur or double-coated breeds (such as Akitas or Huskies), keeping them well-groomed during the steamy summer months is crucial to their comfort. First, be sure to get rid of tangles or matted fur – brush them regularly every couple of days to keep their coat knot-free and help them shed their seasonal coat. In addition, routine brushing and combing not only removes loose hair, mats, dander and shedding fur, but also keeps their coat smooth. In turn, it allows their skin to breathe and consequently, keeps dogs cool in the hot weather. Another added benefit to regular at-home grooming: brushing allows pet parents to inspect their dog’s coat and skin for seasonal pests, including ticks and fleas, which are especially rampant in the summertime. Finally, it allows for quality bonding time between dog owners and their furry pals. By following these dog grooming tips, you’ll be able to help keep your pup cool all summer long.

6.)    Chill out at home: Just like their humans, dogs like to chill out in the humid months of summer, too – after all, there’s a reason why the phrase “the dog days of summer” exists! Therefore, keeping the home cool and at a comfortable temperature (even when he’s home alone) benefits our four-legged friends as much as it does its human inhabitants. If they’re staying indoors, let overheated canine companions relax in the AC, and keep the drapes closed to prevent overheated rooms. For homes that don’t have air conditioning, keep fresh air circulating – open windows and use fans in rooms where pets spend most of their time. For the truly pampered pooch, fur baby owners may want to consider if a cooling pad or vest might help do the trick.

7.)    Protect his paw pads: Once he’s ready to go for a walk, be sure to check the pavement first – if it’s too hot to the touch, it’s definitely too hot for his delicate paw-pads! Instead, try walking him on the grass and take precautions to stay off the asphalt. If he’s a small sized dog, owners can of course carry dogs to a grassier area so he can do his business. And if he’s cooperative, dog booties may be an option to protect his sensitive paws. Pet parents may want to consider scheduling the longest walks in the evening if possible, as the cooler temps of nightfall will allow a more enjoyable walk for everyone. If you notice that your dog’s paw pads are red or they are peeling, it may be because they have burnt them on the pavement. 

8.)    Offer extra TLC for at-risk dogs: Certain types of dogs – known as brachycephalic breeds (which means “shortened head”) – require special care during the hot, humid days of summer. These breeds include Pugs, Chihuahuas, Shih Tzus, Pekingese, Lhasa Apsos, English Toy Spaniels, Bull Mastiffs, and Chow Chows. Brachycephalic breeds all have certain notable characteristics in common – namely, a short nose and flat face. However, the same physical attributes that are cute and appealing are also unfortunately linked with respiratory problems.  Because dogs cool down through panting, brachycephalic breeds have a particularly tough time in hot weather, since they’re unable to draw in adequate air to cool off their bodies. Therefore, it’s key for owners of these breeds to make sure their pups don’t overdo it when the temperatures rise – keep a watchful eye for signs of overheating, limit their physical activity, and keep dogs inside during heat waves in the air conditioning to protect them from heatstroke.

9.)    Treats to beat the heat: Another way to keep four-legged friends cool from the inside out? Offer him cool treats – a simple but great idea that dogs love is an ice cube with his favorite treat frozen inside. There are also dozens of dog-safe chews and cooling dog toys that can be easily thrown in the freezer for a snack to (literally) help canines chill out.

10.)   Vet visits for good health: No matter what time of year, it’s always wise to schedule an annual visit to a trusted veterinarian. However, this is especially true during the summer months, since there are a host of health challenges facing dogs – for example, did you know that canine parvovirus spreads in hot weather? Additionally, the more canines spend time outdoors, the higher the chance they’ll come in contact with another animal (particularly wildlife) that has rabies. Of course, summer is synonymous with bugs and insects – from Lyme disease-bearing ticks to fleas and heartworm-bearing mosquitos, it’s essential to protect dogs from these seasonal pests, which can be prevented with medications, collars and other suggestions as prescribed by the vet’s office.

Sources Cited:

1) Reisen, Jan. “7 Products to Help Keep Your Dog Cool on Hot Days.” American Kennel Club  (AKC.org), June 11, 2019,  https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/lifestyle/how-to-keep-dogs-cool-in-summer/. Accessed June 15, 2020.

2) “Why Do Dogs Pant?” Purina (UK / puri