TL;DR - The Headlines on How to Keep a Dog Cool in the Summer
So How Do You Keep Your Dog Cool in the Hot Summer Months?
Many dog owners are concerned about how to keep their dogs cool during the hot weather. With the increasing temperature, it becomes more difficult for our furry friends to stay comfortable.
We all know how it feels when the humidity is high! Can't get comfortable. Too hot to sleep!
The best way to help your dog beat the summer heat is by taking some simple steps that will make this time of year easier both for you and your pup!
Check out these tips to keep your beloved pets safe.
Keep Your House Cool
The best way to cool down your dog is by keeping their home as cool as possible.
Keep the thermostat in your house at a comfortable level for both you and them!
Keeping the temperature around 70-75 degrees Fahrenheit can make all of the difference, especially during those times when they are most active.
You can also keep your house cool by using window treatments to block the sun creating areas of shade, adding an air conditioner or a fan, and opening windows.
Provide a Cool Spot for Your Dog to Lie Down
Your pet will be much more comfortable if they have a cool spot to lie down.
Keeping them in the shade and near cold water or ice can help tremendously.
You may notice that your dog starts to lie in front of an external door to catch the draft or goes to lie under furniture to take advantage of the shade.
Often there is little access to shade outside so you can create a shady spot for them for example by adding a parasol, creating a shade sail out of a sheet, a portable sun shade or a pop-up canopy!
When your dog has access to this type of cooler place to hang out it makes their time spent outdoors even more enjoyable!
They'll love lounging around with some water nearby as well!
Don't forget to offer your pup a cool place to sleep at night.
Make Sure Your Dog Drinks Enough Water to Stay Hydrated All Day Long
You can also make sure your pup remains cool by offering them water and ice. You should offer the same to people as well!
Proper hydration is a very important part of keeping your dog cool in the hot weather, and it's something that many pet owners forget about.
Dogs can't sweat like humans do to regulate their temperature and stay cool! They can therefore easily overheat.
This means that they have to rely on drinking water as one of their main ways of cooling off from temperature spikes.
Make sure you provide enough water for them all day long - and if possible, give it fresh! Keep their bowl topped up and nearby. Stick some ice cubes in there too!
Keep in mind that even though your dog may not be panting visibly during the hot summer days; they are working really hard just keeping themselves hydrated!
Keeping your dog hydrated during the summer is just as important as keeping them cool.
When you're out and about, make sure that you take a portable, collapsible water bowl or a suitable dog travel water bottle with you - there are some great options in the market. Give them small amounts of water every 15-20 minutes when they are active and ensure that you have enough cool water to last!
If your dog starts panting excessively, get them into the shade and give them more water right away.
Arleigh Reynolds, Purina Senior Research Nutritionist and Veterinarian cautions against giving too much water at once, though.
“For a forty-five to fifty-five pound dog, don't let them drink more than four to eight ounces of water at a time. After they've had time to absorb it and get it out of their stomach, give them some more ten or fifteen minutes later.”
Dog Water Intoxication - Beware!
When people talk about water, they often focus on how important it is to drink plenty of fluids.
The fact that your dog needs to do the same might surprise you!
But BEWARE!! Water intoxication occurs when dogs swallow too much water, too quickly.
Although rare, this can lead to brain damage and in extreme cases it can be fatal!
For example, your dog may love swimming to cool off but may also be swallowing a lot of water at the same time!
Make sure that you keep your eye on them and limit their playtime in the water.
Be extra careful when you are at the beach as swallowing a lot of salt water can lead to salt poisoning. This usually results in vomiting within a few hours and can also cause diarrhea. It can also make your dog become confused, non-responsive and lethargic. In severe cases dogs can suffer from muscle tremors and seizures.
Carry fresh water with you. Limit their time in the sea.
Both intoxication and poisoning have the same symptoms which you should look out for:
- Pale gums
- Loss of coordination
If your dog has breathing issues or loses consciousness or shows any of the above signs, make sure that you call your vet urgently for advice.
Don't spend too much time outside
One of the best ways to keep your dog cool is by limiting their time spent outside during peak heat hours. This means they're less likely to feel miserable and overheat, which makes it a lot easier for them when trying to stay comfortable!
Try to limit their time outside during the midday hours, and then head out for some early morning or evening walks.
You could also aim for cooler shadier walks such as walking through woodland. This is one our favourite outings during the summer so that we can enjoy the cooler, damper air.
Additionally, you'll want to make sure that they have a place with shade in order for them to relax when it gets too hot outside. Don’t leave them outside without shelter when temperatures are rising above 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 C). They need protection against heatstroke too.
Lastly, be mindful of how much time your dog spends outdoors during these summer months because dogs are more sensitive than humans to overheating and heatstroke which could lead to an emergency situation if not taken care of quickly!
Dogs need plenty of water, shade, a cool place to rest in between outdoor activities - plus they're more likely to overheat if you get them too tired!
Providing them with plenty of shade or an air-conditioned space where they can rest is very important for their health and comfort.
Try limiting your dog's exercise routine so that they can avoid overheating on those hot summer days.
This includes keeping their walks shorter than usual or even skipping one altogether (unless it's important).
You can also try swimming if your dog loves the water.
When they are outside with you, use cold water on them or ice cubes for their paws and neck as well as soaking wet bandanas around their neck - this will keep them from overheating.
Keep an eye on your pooch as well. Watch for when they start panting heavily or drooling excessively as it means they're feeling uncomfortable and might need more relief from the heat and need to be in a cooler environment!
Bring out some toys
If you have a backyard or other fenced in area that allows pets, make sure there are plenty of cooling things for your pet - like doggy pools, frozen water bottles (or even ice cubes), frozen rubber toys with tasty treats and shady trees etc.
Provide something enjoyable so they won't get too bored sitting inside all day long waiting on you while you enjoy being outdoors.
If you do invest in an outdoor doggy pool make sure that it is kept at an optimal temperature. Remember that you will be filling it with cold water which will take a while to warm up and if the water is too cold it can cause dogs to become hypothermic.
Stay Active but Stay Safe with Your Dog in the Summer!
A great way to keep your dog cool is by keeping them active.
Playing fetch or letting them run around and get some physical activity will help release a lot of pent up energy that heats their body up and give them the chance to expend excess heat.
Be careful not to over-exert your pet though as this can lead to dehydration, muscle strains, cramps etc. so make sure they have plenty of water when playing outside for extended periods of time in the summer months!
One way to help your dog feel better when it heats up outside is to stay inside with your dog and play games with them indoors! This is also a great bonding experience too and will help you both stay healthy. You can check out some great brain training games to play with you dog right here! Keep them active and eager to learn.
Hunting down toys around the house can be just what they need, or try my dog's favourite summer treat - some doggy ice cream (a combination of peanut butter mixed with yogurt)!!!
Add Cooling Products for Dogs
Another way you can keep your dog cool is by using products that will help them stay comfortable!
Products like cooling mats are great because they provide comfort while also cooling down their body temperature. A good mat may not be cheap upfront but over time it saves money since these types of products last much longer than ice packs which need to be replaced every day. Your dog will really appreciate the cooling sensation against their skin.
You could also consider getting a water fountain with a built-in reservoir so they have access to fresh water at all times.
There are many more affordable options out there - just make sure that whatever product you get fits your budget and needs of your beloved pooch!
Check the Pavement Before You Go Out for a Walk
Before you go out for a walk in the heat of summer, be sure to check the pavement. Test the surface with the back of your hand for 5 to 7 seconds. If it's too hot for you, then it's too hot for your dog's paws.
If it's too hot and dry your dog might not be able to handle walking on it and could suffer injury to their paws. Try finding an alternate route or letting them cool down by going through water first.
Doing this will help keep their paws from getting injured, and will make it more fun for them to get out of the house.
There are many things you can do to keep your dog cool during a hot day in the summer! One way is by taking breaks from the heat with trips through water or other cooling off spots.
Protect Your Dog's Paws in the Heat
Your dog has their own built-in cooling mechanism. They release heat through their paw pads to help keep them cool. Therefore, giving them access to a paddling pool or a swim or dipping their pads in cool water can make a big difference.
Keep your pups' paws safe with protection from hot surfaces like asphalt and sand. You might want to consider boots to protect your pup.
These booties are water resistant and have an anti-slip sole. They are an easy way to keep your dog's paws safe and comfortable during the summer months.
They can also be used in winter when frostbite becomes a concern for your pup.
Why is My Dog Panting?
Panting is one of their cooling methods!
Panting is not only a sign of stress in your dog but it also helps them to cool down and their temperature by evaporation.
In the summer, when there's no snow or ice on the ground, this type of cooling method can be more effective for your pup than water immersion as your dog evaporates the majority of their heat from their tongue!
The heat can make it hard for dogs to pant. If they cannot open their mouths properly then this will impact upon their ability to pant. Avoid muzzles or gentle leaders on hot days.
Heatstroke in dogs
How Do You Prevent Heatstroke in Your Dog?
Unlike humans who sweat to release heat, dogs cool themselves by panting.
When they can’t get rid of heat through a normal breathing process, their body temperature rises and the dog might experience heatstroke which could result in death if not treated immediately.
Dogs can suffer fatal heatstroke within minutes. It is important to avoid this by keeping your dog cool and hydrated.
Heatstroke can develop rapidly, but it's easy to prevent! You should always be aware of the risks for heatstroke when taking your pup outside during hot weather.
Some dogs are more prone to heatstroke than others. Dogs with thick fur, short noses or those suffering from medical conditions are more likely to have heatstroke. Even dogs who like to play and exercise a lot need to be watched for heat stroke. Especially hot and humid days where keeping your dog cool is a serious challenge.
Signs may include the following:
- Excessive Panting - increases as heatstroke progresses. Most common sign.
- Drooling, salivating.
- Agitation, restlessness.
- Very red or pale gums.
- Bright red tongue.
- Increased heart rate.
- Breathing distress.
- Vomiting Diarrhea (possibly with blood)
- Excessive thirst
- Signs of Shock.
If your dog is exposed to temperatures over 104 degrees for more than 30 minutes it can lead to heatstroke, and even death in some cases.
If you notice these signs or symptoms contact your vet immediately!
If your dog is panting or lethargic, call the vet immediately.
Until you can get to the vet, you can take the following steps to help:
- Remove the dog from the hot environment immediately into a cool place.
- Let your dog drink as much cool water as they want without forcing them to drink.
- Cool your dog off with cold water by wetting their coat and / or placing a soaked towel on their back.
Quick Tips on How To Prevent Heatstroke In Your Dog: Provide plenty of fresh water when outside on hot days, avoid walking on pavement where the sun can beat down, and be sure to limit your dog's exercise during hot times.
Dogs in Hot Cars
You should never leave your dog in a hot car. Most people think that if the windows have been opened slightly then they should be okay.
The truth is that even on milder days when it only seems to be warm outside, temperatures inside the car can quickly rise to dangerous, life-threatening levels.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “Cars parked in direct sunlight can reach internal temperatures up to 131°F to 172°F when it's 80°F to 100°F outside.”
If you want to take your dog on a road trip this summer, Dr. Reynolds (Arleigh Reynolds, Purina Senior Research Nutritionist and Veterinarian) says,
“In the car with air conditioning is fine. Keep an eye on him to see if he starts panting, though. If the dog isn't acclimated to travel, the extra anxiety associated with traveling can be enough to put a dog over the edge.”
It is therefore a good idea to get your dog used to travel as early as possible so that they are used to it and some even enjoy the excitement of the adventure.
However, we REPEAT, you MUST NEVER LEAVE your dog in a car if the temperature is too high or even on mild days as they react quickly to the rising temperature.
If you see a dog in a car with an outside temperature over 104 degrees, call your local police and animal control immediately.
It is against the law to leave a pet unattended inside of a vehicle if conditions pose any risk to their health or safety!
Heatstroke can happen quickly and without warning! In fact, it happens so quickly that you may not even realize the dog has heatstroke until it's too late.
The safest way is to NEVER leave your beloved dog unattended in a vehicle.
Check out this handy infographic from Vets Now:
Treat your Dog with Homemade Frozen Treats
The best way to cool down a hot pup in minutes and keep them from getting heatstroke on mild days - give him an ice pop!
You can make these from fruit and yoghurt, pop in some meaty teats (or tuna in our dog's case!) and once blended together pour into some doggy fun shaped molds and freeze them down.
If you want your dog to stay hydrated all summer long, try giving him flavored ice cubes with his water. You could place a small treat like a blueberry in there as a tasty surprise! Any tasty liquid can be used as long as it is dog friendly.
Dogs can also benefit from a frozen water bowl, which will keep them cool and hydrated.
Fill their favorite rubber treat toy and place it in the freezer.
Another yummy treat is to mix some dog friendly fruits such as watermelon with plain, unsweetened yoghurt. Remove any seeds and freeze down the fruit for a few hours. Then blend with the yoghurt.
Plain yoghurt is safe for dogs unless they suffer from lactose intolerance. Also make sure that you avoid any added flavors, sugars or artificial sweeteners. Avoid Xylitol at all costs as this is extremely toxic to our pooches.
Another favorite is doggy ice cream! They love it! Just make sure that the ingredients you use are doggy friendly and not doggy toxic.
Snub-nosed or Brachycephalic Dogs are More Sensitive to Rising Temperatures
Brachycephalic breeds of dogs are more sensitive to rising temperatures, and so need careful management when the mercury starts creeping up. Breeds such as Pugs, French Bulldogs, English Bulldogs, Boston Terriers, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Shih Tzus and Boxers.
Brachycephaly is a condition that develops as puppies grow where their skull becomes too short while their jaw remains long. The health issues can be breathing and heart related problems.
If your pup is snub-nosed or brachycephalic, they need to reduce their activity levels and pace themselves when it's hot outside in order to avoid overheating. They succumb to heat stroke more easily.
They will also require more frequent breaks from the sun so that their body temperature doesn't rise too quickly.
If you see the signs of heatstroke, call your vet straightaway.
Protect Vulnerable Pets from the Sun - Sunscreen for Dogs!
Pets with light skin or hair need to cover up just like humans do, so make sure that you check in with your vet about sun protection and sunscreen as there is specially formulated sun cream for dogs at most pet shops. If you are not sure whether your dog needs sun cream, ask your vet.
Pets can suffer from sunburn just like us – particularly if they have light skin and hair, which can cause pain, peeling and skin cancer.
As a responsible pet owner, it's important to provide ample shade for your dog if they are going out in the sun. Human sunscreen is not recommended because of its toxicity and ingredients that can be dangerous for dogs.
The American Kennel Club provide helpful advice on this issue:
It’s highly important that you only use formulas that are specifically intended as sunscreen for dogs. They should not contain zinc oxide or para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA), as these ingredients are toxic to dogs if ingested, and dogs will often lick their skin and accidentally ingest the sunscreen. It’s also a good idea to look for a waterproof, unscented dog sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30.
Check out the AKC article that gives great tips on which types of dogs are more at risk, how to apply sunscreen to a usually non-compliant companion, alternatives to sunscreen (balm for those noses, sunsuits, shirts, hats & goggles!) and how to treat sunburn.
What Have We Learned?
The tips we’ve shared are just a few of the ways you can keep dogs cool in the heat. If you have any other questions, feel free to reach out to us!
We hope these summertime dog care tips help make life with your furry friend that much more enjoyable. Happy cooling off and happy walks!
Stay safe, stay hydrated and if you think your dog is struggling and showing signs of danger being around the corner from heat stroke, make sure that you call your vet immediately!
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