Last Updated on 2 years ago by Nicky Johnson
All dogs struggle in hot weather. Unlike humans, dogs can’t sweat to cool down and rely on panting to reduce their body temperature. Many dogs also lack “common sense” when it comes to staying cool!
This makes heat stress a common issue for dogs. If your dog isn’t able to cool down, heat stress can lead to heat exhaustion and even fatal heat stroke.
To make sure that your dog doesn’t risk overheating, follow our top tips for a comfortably cool dog this summer.
Provide a Constant Supply of Fresh Drinking Water
All dog owners know that it’s vital to provide your dog with fresh drinking water all year round. However, it is essential in summer to ensure that your dog has a constant supply of cool water, as he’ll be drinking more.
If you’re going to be out of the house, consider leaving two bowls of fresh water rather than one. And, if you’re taking your dog with you, make sure you bring sufficient water and a portable dog water bottle.
Be sure to frequently offer your dog water when on walks, too. Don’t rely on your dog to tell you when he’s getting too hot or thirsty.
Avoid Walks During the Hottest Times of Day
If possible, change your routine and take your dog out first thing in the morning and late in the evening.
Of course, if you live in an apartment, or your dog doesn’t have any access to the outdoors, you can still go out for comfort breaks as needed. However, exercise during the hottest part of the day should be avoided.
Not only will the sidewalk risk burning your dog’s paws (check the temperature with your hand,) but exercise can cause dangerous overheating. Many dogs will run to the point of severe exhaustion, even in hot weather, so it’s up to the owner to keep them safe.
This study from the UK warns that “exertional heat-related illness affects more dogs, and kills more dogs, than confinement in a hot vehicle”.
Just as you’d never leave your dog unattended in a hot car, make sure you avoid exercise in the heat, especially during the hottest part of the day. If that means skipping a walk or two on hot days, then this is a small price to pay for your dog’s safety.
Provide Shade for Your Dog
If your dog is outdoors, make sure there is adequate shade to keep him or her out of direct sunlight. It’s frightening how quickly a dog can overheat when there’s no cover.
Similarly, when you’re out with your four-legged friend, make sure there is shade when you stop. Whether it’s at a friend’s BBQ, or in the backyard, shade is essential for keeping your pet safe.
Use a Wet Towel or Dog Cooling Mat
When the mercury rises, place a damp towel on the floor or invest in a special dog cooling mat.
A damp towel provides a cooling sensation that’s similar to laying on cold tiles – but much more comfortable! As there are several main arteries located in the groin area, this is a great way to lower your dog’s body temperature while keeping them comfortable.
Another great option is dog cooling mats. These contain a special gel that absorbs heat, cools your dog down and cushions their joints. Cooling mats are more comfortable than a simple wet towel, so they are probably the better option if your dog is elderly or has any joint issues.
Provide Adequate Ventilation
Ventilation is essential to keeping your dog cool. Air conditioning is the best option if you have one, but it’s most important to never leave your dog enclosed in a sunny, hot room without adequate ventilation. Conservatories or closed-off porches with large windows are definite no-gos.
According to the Study of Heat Stroke and Heat Exhaustion in the Dog, around 73% of canine total body heat is lost to the surrounding air from the surface of the body via radiation and conduction. The study warns that “with poor ventilation this mechanism of heat loss is blocked, because the temperature of the air surrounding the body rises to body temperature”.
While we all know the dangers of leaving a dog in a vehicle, it is also essential to ensure that anywhere your dog is housed, even temporarily, has adequate ventilation.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I know if my dog is too hot?
It’s important to be aware of the early signs of heatstroke, so you can act to get your dog out of the heat before his condition worsens.
Excessive panting, drooling, and a shortage of breath are common signs that your dog is starting to overheat. Your dog may also exhibit a lack of coordination and be less responsive to your cues.
A sudden change in gum or tongue color to a dark, bright red is a strong indicator of heatstroke.
Do dogs need sunscreen?
Yes, you should definitely apply dog-approved sunscreen to any areas of exposed skin before your dog goes outside in the strong summer sunshine. Even areas with just a light covering of fur can still get burnt, causing your dog severe pain.
Whether you’re going out for a short trip somewhere or letting your dog out in your backyard, make sure that you apply sunscreen to your dog’s belly, nose, groin, and lips. Just like humans, sunburn can also cause skin cancer in dogs.
Can my dog swim in my pool?
According to the American Kennel Club, the level of chlorine in home pools is low enough to be safe for your dog to swim.
Even so, it’s important you make sure that they don’t drink pool water, are kept safely away from any stored pool, and are rinsed off after bathing with clean water.
When your dog is using the pool, don’t leave them unsupervised and make sure they are able to get out safely. A canine life jacket is essential at all times. For extra safety, you may want to buy a specially designed plastic dog pool to help keep your pet cool without deep water.
When temperatures rise, it’s important to stay cool and hydrated. This advice is also essential for keeping your dog safe this summer.
By avoiding the hottest part of the day and providing plentiful water, shade, and ventilation, both you and your pooch will be able to enjoy summer safely.