How To Keep Your Dog Cool In Hot Weather
June 26, 2023 | 3 min read
Updated June 26, 2023
Published: June 22, 2023
Summary: In this blog, we'll explore the dangers of overheating in dogs, signs of heatstroke, the breeds that are higher risk, and effective strategies to keep your dog cool during summer walks, at home, and while traveling.
As the summer heat intensifies, it's our job as pet parents to make sure that our furry companions stay cool and comfortable.
Did you know that dogs are extremely susceptible to overheating? And, because of this, they're more at risk of developing heatstroke and other serious health complications.
So, knowing how to keep your pup cool and prioritizing their well-being can help make this summer a refreshing and safe experience for your beloved pets.
The Dangers of Overheating in Dogs
Hot weather poses a significant threat to dogs, as they struggle to regulate their body temperature efficiently. Unlike humans, dogs don't sweat in the same way and primarily rely on panting to cool down. This means that when the temperature rises, your dog's cooling mechanisms can become overwhelmed, increasing the risk of heat-related illnesses, like heatstroke, which is a life-threatening condition that will require immediate attention.
Breeds at Higher Risk
All dogs are at risk of developing heatstroke, but certain dog breeds are more susceptible to overheating due to their physical attributes or genetic predispositions.
Brachycephalic breeds, such as Bulldogs, Pugs, and Shih Tzus, with their shorter snouts, are especially vulnerable. Additionally, dogs with thick coats, like Huskies, Newfoundlands, Golden Retrievers, and Chow Chows struggle to dissipate heat efficiently.
Awareness of your dog's breed characteristics will help you take appropriate precautions.
Recognizing the Signs of Heatstroke
To safeguard your dog's well-being, it's crucial to be vigilant and recognize the signs of heatstroke.
Common symptoms include:
- Excessive panting
- Rapid breathing
- Bright red gums
- Difficulty walking
If you suspect heatstroke, it is vital to seek veterinary assistance immediately. The sooner you're able to get help, the better your dog's chances will be to make a full recovery.
What To Do If You Suspect Heatstroke
Taking quick action is essential to saving your dog from organ damage, brain damage, or even death. If you notice any of the symptoms outlined above, make sure you do these things:
- Immediately remove your dog from the heat, out of the sun, and preferably somewhere that has a draft.
- Use cool water, to wet their coat, and possibly the floor or area surrounding them.
- If you’re inside, open windows, and turn on a fan or the air conditioning if you have one.
- Call your veterinarian, or take your dog as soon as possible to them. Even if you just suspect heatstroke, the vet can do an examination and monitor your pup.
How To Keep Your Dog Cool During Summer Walks
Physical exercise is an important part of your dog's daily routine, but in the height of summer, it can cause more harm than good.
Choose Optimal Walking Times
Schedule walks during cooler parts of the day, such as early morning or late evening, when the temperature is more mild. This will help stop your dog from overheating and the ground won't be as hot on their paws.
Top Tip: Before you take your pup for a walk, place your hand on the ground for 10 seconds. If the ground is too hot for your hand, it's too hot for your dog's paws!
Provide Ample Shade
Plan your route to include shaded areas or carry a portable canopy to shield your dog from direct sunlight.
Hydration is Key
Carry a specific dog water bottle or a collapsible water bowl and an adequate supply of fresh water to keep your dog hydrated throughout the walk.
Utilize Cooling Vests or Bandanas
These specially designed accessories help regulate your dog's body temperature and offer instant relief from the heat.
How To Keep Your Dog Cool at Home
Most states in the US will feel the temperatures rise, with Florida and Texas reaching temperatures of 90°F and over! As a result, houses will warm up, and if you don't have air conditioning, it can get very hot. Here are a few tips and tricks to help keep your dog cool inside:
Create a Cool Indoor Environment
Ensure proper air circulation by using fans or air conditioning. Keep curtains or blinds closed during the hottest parts of the day to minimize heat buildup.
Provide Access to Fresh Water
Place multiple water bowls around the house and consider investing in a pet fountain to encourage regular drinking.
Cooling Mats and Bedding
These specialized mats and bedding options are designed to absorb and dissipate heat, providing a cool spot for your dog to rest.
Prepare homemade frozen treats using dog-friendly ingredients, such as pureed fruits or vegetables, and offer them as a refreshing snack.
How To Keep Your Dog Cool In The Backyard
During the summer, many of us spend a lot more time outside in the backyard, including our pups. Take a look at a few simple ways you can help your dog stay cool in the backyard:
Plenty of Shade
Try to make sure your dog doesn't spend long periods in direct sunlight. Encourage them to keep in shaded areas; under trees, create canopies, or build a shelter.
Provide Access to Fresh Water
Make sure you place multiple water bowls around the backyard, so your pup has access to drinking water at all times.
Whether you use a large troff or buy a small baby pool, having cool water for your dog to sit, lay or play in can help regulate their temperature and keep them comfortable in the heat.
Homemade frozen treats are perfect for helping to cool your pup down when they're inside the house and outside.
How To Keep Your Dog Cool While Traveling
Now, traveling with your dog when it's warm out can bring some risks. Take a look at some simple ways you can help make summer travel easy and comfortable for your pooch:
Never leave your dog unattended in a parked vehicle, as temperatures can soar rapidly, even with the windows cracked. If you must travel by car, ensure proper ventilation and consider using sunshades to minimize heat absorption.
Hydration on the Go
Bring a travel water bottle and a portable water dispenser to keep your dog hydrated during long journeys.
Plan frequent breaks in shaded areas or pet-friendly locations, allowing your dog to cool down and stretch their legs.
Wet Towels or Cooling Sprays
Carry a damp towel or a cooling spray to provide instant relief from the heat during travel. Wet the towel and gently apply it to your dog's fur or spray the cooling mist on their body for a quick cool-down.
As responsible pet owners, it's our duty to protect our dogs from the perils of overheating during hot summer months. By understanding the dangers of overheating, recognizing the signs of heatstroke, and taking appropriate precautions, we can ensure our furry friends stay cool, comfortable, and safe. Whether it's during summer walks, at home, or while traveling, implementing the suggested strategies will help prevent heat-related illnesses and keep our dogs happy and healthy.
Remember, never underestimate the impact of hot weather on our canine companions. If you suspect heatstroke or notice any signs of distress, seek veterinary assistance immediately. Stay vigilant, stay prepared, and let's make this summer a season of enjoyable adventures and refreshing experiences for both us and our beloved dogs!
Author Williams, Krista, BSc, DVM, CCRP, "Heat Stroke In Dogs", VCA Hospitals, https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/heat-stroke-in-dogs
Author Higgs, Veronica, DVM, "Heatstroke In Dogs", petMD, July 13. 2022, https://www.petmd.com/dog/conditions/systemic/heatstroke-dogs
Disclaimer: This blog post is for informational purposes only and should not replace professional veterinary advice. If you have concerns about your dog's health or well-being, consult with a qualified veterinarian.