How to Cool Down your Dog (& Keep Them Cool) this Summer

How to Cool Down your Dog (& Keep Them Cool) this Summer

Summertime is just great for us humans. School’s out, work’s quieter, holidays are in full flow across the country and beyond.

Dogs don’t have the same cool-down mechanisms in their bodies as humans.

The Great British Summer often doesn’t play ball (we love a bit of rain, don’t we?), but when it does, some days can be scorching hot.

It’s hard to keep cool when the sun’s blazing, whether you’re indoors or outdoors, and humans have all manner of ways to reduce our body temperatures.

From oscillating fans to the simple shedding of clothing, we’re able to cool ourselves down fairly easily in the hot summer heat.

Not so with our four-legged friends.

Quick Tips: How to Keep Dogs Cool in Summer

  • Keep them hydrated with fresh water
  • Add Ice-Cubes to their water bowl
  • Invest in a dog cooling vest
  • Find or build shade
  • Investigate dog cooling mats
  • Take them for a swim
  • Don’t over-exercise them
  • Turn on the air conditioning
  • Use ice packs or wet towels
  • Make your house dog-friendly
  • Avoid hot pavements
  • Bring a dog water bottle with you

Dogs don’t have the same cool-down mechanisms in their bodies as humans. While we can naturally sweat to reduce our body temperatures (and do so over a large surface area), dogs don’t enjoy the same organic privileges.

We have sweat glands on every skin surface of our bodies, so we can quickly and easily cool off on a hot day, as long as we stay hydrated.

Dogs, however, have the vast majority of their sweat glands on their paw pads, so they have to find other ways to cool off.

Dogs pant, a lot.

The primary method by which a canine cools down is through panting. We’ve all seen this, of course. After a bit of rigorous exercise or in moments of heightened excitement or stress, dogs will spend a good deal of time with their mouths gaping and tongues lolling out.

This is because panting helps evaporate moisture from the moist lining of the lungs and from the surface of the tongue, as well as encouraging blood vessels in the face and ears to expand and release more heat (vasodilation).

It’s a common sight for pet owners, and generally, one that shouldn’t be any cause for alarm. Dogs pant, a lot. It’s just their way of getting that pesky body temperature down.

Borzoi In Sun

However, what if panting isn’t enough? What if the day is just too hot, and all the usual canine solutions simply aren’t doing the trick?

This article our guest writer will discuss how to cool down a dog in hot weather both indoors and outdoors.

Dogs that become overheated can suffer from heatstroke, which can cause brain damage or even death. Seventy-five companion animals died from overheating in the last year, according to PETA, and those were just the recorded instances – there were undoubtedly many more heat-related deaths for animals around the world, sadly.

Warning Signs

While panting is an obvious sign that your dog is overheating, there are several other ways he can alert you to the need to reduce his body temperature. If your pet’s temperature reaches three figures, he will almost certainly need urgent medical attention. Call your vet.

As well as panting, your dog may drool excessively when he’s overheating. He may also struggle to breathe as normal and may experience tremors in his muscles.

Other warning signs include shaky steps, irregular heart rate, difficulty peeing, blood in the stool and fainting. Any or all of these signs can be very distressing for dogs and their humans.

Our canine companions aren’t great at knowing when they need to cool down, or how to go about it sometimes.

But that’s where we step in. It’s our job as loving owners to ensure our furry friends remain safe and comfortable on hot days. Helping our pets cool down when they can’t do it for themselves is a duty and a privilege, and one that we shouldn’t disregard.

Keeping Your Dog Cool Outdoors

So, how can we help our dogs cool down outdoors in hot weather? Here are a few suggestions.

Keep Dogs Hydrated

One of the simplest and most effective ways of keeping dogs cool outdoors on hot days is to ensure their bodies remain hydrated at all times. Like us, dogs need a constant supply of fresh water to stay healthy and stop their bodies getting too warm. This is true all year round regardless of the weather, but is especially true when the sun’s blazing.

There are several ways to help keep your dog hydrated, but the first and most obvious method is by keeping their bowls constantly filled with refreshing H20. If out and about, bring a water bottle.

A medium-sized dog can drink up to 2.5 litres of water a day, so make sure those bowls always remain filled with fresh, cold water from the tap. A dog with sticky gums and dry eyes is probably dehydrated, so keep an eye out for those warning signs throughout the day.

You can also try changing up the kind of food you feed your pooch. Most pet owners today feed their dogs dry food as it helps keep their teeth healthy, but consider switching the kibble for wet food during the summer months. You can also add water to dry food to make it more appealing for warm dogs.

Try swapping doggie biscuit treats for ice-cubes. Not all dogs enjoy this (from personal experience) but a crunchy ice cube can be a fun and refreshing treat on a hot day. You can also freeze berries as a tasty and cooling snack.

Most importantly, when you’re out and about with your dog, ensure you have a good supply of fresh water with you. Even if you’re going for a relatively-short walk on a hot day, make sure you bring along a bottle of water and a clean bowl for your pet to drink from.

Doggie exercise sessions in high temperatures can verge on dangerous at the best of times, but without water, they can be fatal. Keep your dog hydrated at all times on a hot day.

Find or Create Shade

Another simple way to keep dogs cool outdoors on hot days is to help them find shade, or create a shady spot for them to use.

As pet owners, we’ll all have seen our dogs or cats seeking out the coolest places in the house on warm days. You’re likely to find your friend sheltering under the kitchen table or snoozing in a North-facing room in the middle of the day, though of course a bit of basking is always in order on occasion.

A dog should always have access to shade during the day, especially outdoors. They should never be left in open areas where the sun can beat down on them relentlessly without any form of respite. If your dog is outside on a hot day, make sure he can spend some time cooling off under a tree or at the side of a building.

Grass and foliage have a great cooling effect on a garden and your dog will most likely stretch out on the green stuff whenever he can. Show your pet where the shady spots in your outdoor area are, and if there aren’t any, consider creating a place just for him.

Keeping Your Dog Cool in the Sun

Use a Dog Cooling Vest

Another great way to help keep your dog cool in summertime is to invest in a dog cooling vest or jacket for your canine companion. These handy little numbers work by retaining moisture after being soaked to help keep your dog cool.

The majority of cooling vests are composed of several layers that both maximise the cooling effect of evaporation and stop the vest drying out too quickly. A good vest will also have a water-repellent interior layer that stops your dog’s coat getting soaked throughout the day – you want a moist vest, not a wet dog.

Most owners use cooling vests during exercise, but they can also be worn around the home and garden during the day to help keep pets more comfortable, especially those with darker, heat-retaining coats.

It can seem counter-productive to add more layers to a dog when he’s already warm, but cooling vests do work effectively at reducing a dog’s body temperature.

As water evaporates away from the wet vest, it draws canine body heat along with it, helping keep your furry friend cool throughout the day. Consider trying out a dog cooling vest this summer.

Don’t Overdo It

It can be tempting to load up the car and head for the beach or forest on a beautiful summer day with your dog (and your family, if you must). It’s hard to beat a picnic among the trees or castle-building in the sand.

Whatever you do, don’t over-do it.

However, you should always take the wellbeing of your pet into account when formulating your plans for the day.

Is the place you’re heading for dog-friendly?

Are there shady spots for him to cool off in while you’re there? Will he have a good supply of water or the opportunity to cool off with a rejuvenating swim?

Whatever you do, don’t over-do it. If you’re taking your dog for a walk on a hot day, do a much shorter route than usual and take regular water breaks.

Go somewhere that’s mostly in the shade and don’t let your dog roam too much or he could exhaust himself. And if you’re taking him to the park for exercise, make sure he doesn’t get lost in the excitement of seeing other dogs and forget to drink and rest.

All this requires just a bit of common sense from owners. Don’t push your dog to do any more than you would do yourself in hot weather.

Go For a Swim

Dogs love the water – that’s a well-established fact among owners around the world. Very few dogs will turn down the chance to throw themselves headlong into a body of glorious H20, whether it’s still or salty. Swimming is a fun, often exhilarating experience for dogs, who adore paddling around freely in a river or lake, or pouncing on incoming waves in the sea.

Stay Cool! How to Cool Down your Dog (and keep them cool) this Summer - Swim

Getting a good soaking is a great way for a dog to cool down on a hot summer day. As in the case of dog vests, the cooling effect of water evaporating from the skin is a fantastic (and natural) way for dogs to reduce their body temperature.

You’ll undoubtedly end up having to deal with the dreading ‘wet dog’ smell, but it’s well worth it if it helps keep your furry friend safe and healthy in hot weather.

That being said, there are a few important points to remember when it comes to taking your dog for a dip. First off, don’t assume that every dog can swim, or even wants to swim. While most dogs love a splash and a paddle, some dogs prefer to stay dry, even if they’re very hot.

They’d rather drink a lot to stay cool than actually be in the water themselves. And not every breed is well-suited to swimming – small dogs, flat-faced dogs and dogs with large chests struggle to stay afloat in the water for very long, so swimming can actually be more of a stressful experience than a fun one.

Secondly, be very careful where you let your dog drink from when out and about. It’s a much better idea to give your dog water you brought along yourself that was taken from the tap in your kitchen rather than allow him to lap up lake, pond or puddle water that could be teeming with bacteria. Remember, a thirsty dog will drink from whatever body of water he comes across, so keep him hydrated at all times to ensure he doesn’t stick his face in the first muddy puddle that comes along.

And that goes double for the sea. Consuming salt water is just as dangerous for dogs as it is for us humans, pulling water into the intestines (osmosis) which leads to vomiting, diarrhoea and dehydration. If you see your dog starting to drink salt water, stop him immediately and give him a drink from your own supply.

Finally, after every swim, take the time to towel your dog down, especially around the ears. Dogs can suffer from chronic problems if their ears aren’t dried and aired-out properly after a swim or bath. Breeds with long, hanging ears are especially prone to this, but any dog can suffer the effects of wet ears. Dry your dog down fully all over after every swim.

Invest in a Dog Cooling Mat

Aside from cooling vests, another great product to help keep canine companions cool on a hot day is a cooling mat. These little beauties haven’t been around for a very long time but they work a treat when it comes to getting that doggie body temperature down.

Cooling mats work in much the same way as the cooling layers in modern-day mattresses. A non-toxic gel inside the mat helps retain coolness during the day, helping to lower the temperature of any pooch sprawled out on top of it. They’re especially useful for dogs that are older, obese or suffer from heart problems.

Having a cooling mat in the car is also particularly useful during a road trip on a warm day.

As a pet owner, you’ve probably seen your furry friend stretched out on the tiles or concrete in hot weather. That’s because those materials don’t retain heat in the same way a carpet or soft dog bed might.

A cooling mat is a great compromise between the two – it keeps the dog cool while also giving him a comfortable surface to lie on (let’s face it, tiles and concrete are hard), plus you can move it to any room of the house or outdoors, depending on what suits best.

There are generally two kinds of dog cooling mat available. First up, water-filled dog bed or mats do exactly what their name suggests – water on the inside of the bed stays cool and provides a nice spot for your dog to get that body temperature down. However, if you’ve got a chewer, a water-filled bed is probably not the ideal solution as you’re likely to end up with a destroyed bed and a flooded room.

You can also try a pressure-activated or phase-changing cooling pad. There’s no water involved with these, and they perhaps work even more effectively. Gel inside the pad absorbs your dog’s body temperature and helps cool him down fast – the pads themselves also stay cool for a very long time without the need to be refrigerated.

Cooling pads are a great option because they can be used anywhere and are self-activated when the dog lies down on them. If you want a simple solution for keeping your dog cool during the day, indoors and outdoors, a cooling mat is a great way to go. They work for dogs of all shapes and sizes and can be activated by even the lightest breeds.

Many of the cooling suggestions we’ve thrown at you so far have revolved around your dog being outdoors, but what if your pup is a mostly-indoor dog? The house can still heat up quickly on a hot day, after all, so what’s a dog to do?

How to Keep Your Dog Cool Indoors

Keeping a dog cool outdoors on a hot day is no mean feat – no matter how many shady spots or doggy paddling pools you have, the air temperature can still be high enough to cause him great discomfort.

You may think bringing Fido indoors is the perfect solution to most of the outdoor heat issues, but your pet can remain very inside the house as well, especially if your home draws in a lot of external heat through large windows.

It can even be dangerous to leave your dog at home alone during the day if it’s hot outside as the heat indoors can become stifling over time.

So, how can you go about keeping your dog cool indoors?

Keep the Room Dog-Friendly

If your pooch is confined to one room or one particular area of the house, make sure his environment caters to his needs. Keep that water bowl topped up at all times with fresh H2O and ensure it doesn’t heat up during the day (metal bowls can do this). If your dog has a penchant for knocking his bowl over, get one that comes with a support stand – bigger dogs have a tendency to paw at their bowl and can throw their drink everywhere by accident.

If you can, close the blinds and curtains in your dog’s room, increasing the level of shade and reducing the temperature.

This may be an inconvenience for you, but it can definitely help keep your furry friend cooler during the day.

Try to keep windows open as much as possible to allow fresh air to circulate, otherwise, your home can become stuffy. And if you have a North-facing room that’s naturally cooler, let your dog cool down in there in warm weather – he’s likely to naturally gravitate to it anyway.

Crank up the Air Con

You can also help lower the temperature of a room or your house in general by having the air conditioning on during the day. This is another great option if your pet is at home on his own for a while and needs to stay cool – just set your air con to tackle the high temperatures and go about your business with your mind at ease.

If you don’t have air conditioning in your house, consider buying an oscillating fan to blow cool air around the room your dog is in. He’ll definitely enjoy the reduction in temperature. You can improve this effect further by keeping your dog groomed regularly, especially if he has a long coat. The less hair he has on him, the cooler he’ll be.

Don’t forget to ensure your home stays cool indoors at night as well. Just because the sun’s gone down it doesn’t mean the temperature inside will drop dramatically. Keep your air con going as long as possible (within reason) and keep the windows cracked at night. If your dog sleeps outdoors, make sure his kennel or sleeping space is well-ventilated and he has a sufficient water supply at the ready.

Whatever you do during the summer months, always remember to make the wellbeing of your dog a high priority. Cooling down is something he can’t do very well by himself, so he may need his human to step in and save the day.

If you have any other hints and tips, let us know in the comments section or on our Facebook page.

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David is a freelance writer and dog lover. He owns two dogs, Lupin and Ghost. With a degree in English and Film, his love is writing great content. David has written, edited and proofread for several publications over his career.

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