5 ways to keep dogs cool on hot days
We humans may love the warm and sunny weather, but hot days aren't as much fun for our dogs.
Dogs often suffer from heat-related stress and are susceptible to heat stroke, which can be fatal.
To prevent this, it's important to know how to keep them cool and comfortable during hot summer months.
Why do dogs overheat?
When we humans feel ourselves begin to heat up, we can easily do something about it. We can open doors and windows, wear more comfortable clothes, fix ourselves a cold drink or move to a cooler area. Sadly, dogs don’t have that luxury.
We can also cool ourselves down by sweating, but dogs’ bodies don’t work this way. Dogs cool themselves down by panting, but when they’re stuck in an enclosed area with limited air, panting isn’t always enough to help them return to a safe and comfortable temperature.
Luckily for dogs, they have loving and responsible owners to take care of them. Let's take a closer look at how to keep your dog cool on roasting hot summer days.
We can’t stress enough how vital this is: never, ever leave your dog alone in a car - even if it's just for a few minutes.
Temperatures inside a non-moving car can rise to dangerous heights, incredibly quickly, even with the window cracked open.
Leaving dogs unattended in hot cars is the single biggest cause of heat stroke. This is due to the lack of air circulation and the immense heat.
If you're travelling with your dog on a hot day, be sure to use air conditioning to keep the car cool, and provide your dog with plenty of water during the journey. Take regular breaks too, so they can get some shade and fresh air.
Read more: Driving with dogs: a guide to dog car travel.
Avoid exercising your dog during the hottest parts of the day - usually between 11am and 4pm. During this time, try to keep them indoors where it's cool and shaded, and where they have access to a bowl of fresh drinking water. Nice cool water will help to keep them hydrated.
You can also try using a paddling pool in a shaded area to help them keep their body temperature down.
Watch out for baking hot concrete too. During particularly hot summer days, concrete pavements and roads can get so hot that they actually burn dogs' paw pads!
To check if a surface is safe, place the back of your hand onto it - if you can't keep it there for more than 5 seconds, it's definitely too hot for your dog.
We all enjoy delicious frozen treats during the summer, so why not let your dog join in the fun?
A frozen Kong toy will do a great job of cooling down your dog, and will keep them entertained too. You could also give them an ice cube or two.
Avoid feeding your dog processed human snacks such as ice lollies. These can be calorific, or even poisonous if they contain a sugar substitute such as xylitol.
You can also treat your dog to some fruit! Just make sure you double-check which fruits and vegetables are safe for dogs. Some fruits, such as grapes, are highly poisonous and should be kept for humans only.
Being furry might be an advantage in winter but it’s a hindrance during the summer!
If your dog's fur is extra-thick, long, or even dark, why not get them to the groomers for a refreshing trim? This will help keep them cooler. Plus, a well-groomed coat will pick up less pollen and other particles from the air, which is extra helpful if your pet suffers from hay fever or other allergies.
If your dog's fur is thin or light-coloured (or if they've just had a fresh trim) they may be at risk of sun burn. Prevent this by adding a special pet-friendly sun cream to any areas of exposed skin - especially their ears and nose. Your vet will be able to advise further about dog-friendly sun cream.
If hot weather is good for anything, it's getting people outside! Your dog is more likely to interact with other people, pets and parasites during the summer, so it's extra-important to make sure they're up to date with their:
If your dog is a natural adventurer and often gets carried away, make sure their microchip information is up to date too, this will increase your chances of reuniting with them if they wander off a little too far.
Spotting the signs of heatstroke in dogs
Knowing the signs and symptoms of heatstroke could very well save your dog’s life. It's important to act quickly if your dog displays any of these signs:
- Heavy panting
- Bright pink/red tongue or gums
- A lolling tongue
- Lethargy and reluctance to exercise
- Dizziness and stumbling
If you think your dog is showing signs of overheating or suffering from heatstroke, contact your vet right away.
Need more advice on keeping your dog cool during the summer?
For more help and advice, why not have a chat with your local vet?