As a mom to one rambunctious little girl and two high maintenance children of the canine variety, I am always on the lookout for danger (it’s what we moms do).
Living in a fairly warm climate, one of the things I have to worry about is heatstroke and/or exhaustion.
Especially now that summer is right around the corner. This is a risk for both humans and animals alike. Dogs cannot tell you if they are overheating, so you really have to pay attention to the warning signs.
There are also many preventative measures that you can take to avoid heat-related complications altogether.
Here are some handy tips to keep your dog cool in hot weather (be sure to let us know in the comments, which ones you try!).
#1 Try To Keep Your Dog Inside When It’s Hot Outside
When the temperature rises there is nothing worse than being stuck outside in the heat and humidity.
Now, imagine being a dog and having to wear a heavy fur coat. It is not fun and can actually be quite dangerous.
According to WebMD keeping your furry friend inside of the house on those unbearably hot days is probably the safest option.
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#2 Keep Your House Cool
While you are keeping your dog in the house you will need to keep the house set at a cool temperature.
Dogs cannot handle the heat as well as their humans can.
While we can both thermoregulate, dogs are only capable of sweating through the bottom of their paws.
Use a Fan
They sell specialized dog fans that can be affixed to the outside of their crate, but a normal bedroom fan can do the job if you want your pooch to have free run of the house.
Ceiling fans are great but a stand-alone may be able to focus the airflow directly on your pooch.
If Fido is a chewer (I know both of mine are!), be sure to keep an eye on him around the cord, they can be electrocuted if they bite into it.
Always place the water bowl away from outlets, as well, for obvious reasons.
Avoid Warm Rooms
While you should provide areas of different temperatures within your home, avoid letting your dog lay about in a warm or stuffy room.
If you can close off any rooms that are not in use, do so. It will help lower the temperature throughout the house.
Make Use of Air Conditioning
Keep the air conditioner set at a cool enough temperature (at least between 78-80 degrees).
Make sure that you keep up with the maintenance, as a broken one, on a hot day, could be disastrous for your pup.
Contrary to popular belief, just because you are not home, does not mean that your dog does not need air conditioning. Especially during the summer months.
Using Ice Packs
If your home does not have air conditioning or if your pet is severely overheated, ice packs can help cool down his temperature.
Have your dog lay down on top of the ice pack – 15 minutes on, 15 minutes off, should suffice. Do not leave them on it for an extended period of time.
If you have an area of your home that has marble flooring, this is where your dog should be kept.
Marble floors tend to stay cooler than other types, such as concrete.
Although any area with marble flooring is ideal, be sure that the sun is not beaming down on it, as that will heat it up.
#3 Provide a Cool, ‘Lazy Spot’ For Your Pup
If you live in a warmer climate you may want to consider setting up an indoor and outdoor ‘cool room’.
Heat resistant flooring with a fan in one room of your home, and an outdoor area that is shaded and comfortable for your pup to rest after working up a sweat (so to speak).
Don’t forget a nice big bowl of cool, refreshing water.
An example of a homemade shade spot for your pup can be found here
#4 NEVER Leave Your Dog In The Car
In just 10 minutes, the temperature in a car can rise 20 degrees and the more time that passes, it just keeps getting hotter.
Even if you are ‘only running in for a minute” or you leave the car running (what if the engine stalls or the air conditioning malfunctions?), it is never a good idea to leave an animal in a hot car.
Hundreds, if not thousands, of innocents, both dogs and kids, die every summer after being left in a hot vehicle.
This is a torturous death. Watch what happens to this veterinarian when he locks himself in a hot car.
Seriously, just don’t do it.
Indoors or outdoors, dogs need to stay hydrated just as much, if not more, than we do. They can get dehydrated rather quickly.
Some of the symptoms of dehydration in your dog can include:
- Heavy panting
- Dry mouth or nose
You can also perform your own tests.
As your puppy’s skin loses moisture, it loses the ability to bounce back. Gently pinch the skin at the nape of your pup’s neck then let go, if it does not bounce back right away, he may be dehydrated.
Take a look at the gums of your pet.
Healthy gums are pink and if pressure is applied, turning the gums white, they should regain their color as soon as you remove the pressure.
If it takes a while for the color return, he may need to be rehydrated.
#6 Keep Any Exercise Weather Appropriate
Obviously, a dog needs exercise, however, you do need to take into consideration how hot it may be.
Any exercise should be light when it is hot outside.
They have a real chance of overheating, more so than their humans.
A hydrated, healthy dog should let you know the level of exercise that they are able to do.
If they do not want to run, do not force them.
#7 Beware of Hot Asphalt
Few dog owners realize just how hot asphalt or pavement can get, or the damage it can do to sensitive doggy feet.
A dog’s paws are much more delicate, than say, the palms of our hands or the bottoms of our feet.
They can burn, or get injured quite easily.
They also do not heal as well as regular skin. Using protective footwear like these booties can help keep your pet from burning his feet during the summer months.
#8 Always Provide Constant Access To Water
Dogs need at least one ounce of water per each pound of bodyweight – 20lb dog = 20 ounces of water, daily.
This is just a generalization as depending on the circumstances they could need more, such as if she is a pregnant female or one who is lactating.
Puppies will also need more water intake than their adult counterpart.
Simply throwing a bowl of tepid water down and leaving it there all day, is not the way to do it.
Your dog needs fresh, clean water every single day.
Keeping it clean means changing it out whenever needed, multiple times a day if need be.
Water Bowl Filled and Available 24/7
Your pup should be able to access water at all times.
You should keep a water bowl within reach, multiple bowls if your pooch is indoor and outdoor.
The bowl should be metal or food-safe glazed ceramic. Plastic bowls collect bacteria and can also cause chin acne on your pup.
If your dog gets a bit rowdy, you may want to consider a weighted one to prevent spillage.
A Place To Get Wet
Providing a place to get wet while outdoors is quite important in keeping your dog cool and comfortable.
Try a kiddie wading pool. Preferably made of a durable plastic material, to make sure his nails don’t pop it.
Going For a Walk? Bring Water!
We all love to take our fur babies for a walk and the exercise is great for them, but, it is imperative to bring a sufficient amount of water along for your pooch (and you!).
With their inability to perspire, they will get overheated quickly.
Dogs love to play. They also love to get wet (most of them anyway. My beagle thought he was a cat – he hated getting wet!).
Incorporating water into their playtime, like spraying him with a hose, is not only fun, it’s a great way to keep him cooled down.
#9 Keep ‘em Shaded
Wherever your dog may hang out while outdoors, you must have an area with appropriate shade.
Decorating your outdoor area with lots of trees and plants which can be used to provide shade, is a great way to keep your buddy cool.
You can also buy a doggie canopy, or you can DIY.
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#10 Offer Frozen Treats
There is really nothing better than an ice-cold, frozen treat, on a scorching hot summer day.
Your dog could benefit from and will enjoy these as well.
They actually make ice cream specifically for dogs!
If you are a whiz in the kitchen you could save money by making your own.
There are a ton of ‘do it yourself’ recipes all over the internet.
Trust me, your pup will woof you for it!
#11 Consider The Humidity
Perspiration does not evaporate as fast when it is humid outside.
This, of course, is especially dangerous since dogs do not have sweat glands all over their body, as humans do.
Heat + humidity could be detrimental to the health of your beloved pup.
Always take extra precautions on a high humidity day.
#12 At-Risk Dogs Require Extra Safety Measures
Older, ill, or brachycephalic (smushy face, like pugs and boxers) dogs, are even more likely to have heart-related complications.
Brachycephalic breeds need to be watched very closely in hot weather.
Due to their facial structure, they are unable to breathe correctly, and that makes it harder to pant (which is how they cool themselves down).
If your dog is an at-risk, breed, age, or if they have medical issues, be very cautious in hot temperatures, and watch for any signs of heatstroke.
#13 Be Careful About Grooming
Many good-intentioned doggy parents, shave their dogs in the summer.
Seems logical, however, this actually causes more harm than good.
Your dog’s’ coat is actually helping him stay cool. You should brush him regularly, though.
This will help remove the shedding undercoat that dogs get in preparation for the winter.
If you have a white dog, be sure to put sunscreen on him!
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#14 Be Aware Of The Warning Signs Of Overheating:
As mentioned earlier, heat stroke and exhaustion are a real danger to your pet.
If left untreated it can cause your pets’ organs to shut down.
They are also at risk for sudden onset kidney failure, cardiac arrest, coma, and death.
Heat exhaustion and heatstroke can occur at any time of the year so you should always stay vigilant.
In order to keep him safe, you should know the warning signs.
Now, all dogs pant, especially when it is hot. This is how they regulate their body temperature.
Excessive panting can sometimes be the first warning sign of heat stroke/exhaustion.
Dogs drool, some more than others. You know your dog, if you notice that he is drooling excessively, the saliva may be more sticky and thick, get him inside, and offer him some water.
Remember those adorable smushy face breeds I talked about earlier? This applies even more so to them.
If you notice your dog’s breathing becomes labored, or he is making odd sounds, like wheezing, it is very important that you start preventative precautions. Like get him some water and into a cool, shaded area, preferably indoors.
If you noticed a dramatic increase in your pup’s heart rate, he could be close to heat exhaustion.
You need to get him indoors right away. Offer him some water, and try to get him to lie down in a cool area. Apply ice packs if needed.
Other warning signs to look for:
- Signs of dehydration (see tests to check for dehydration above).
- Rectal temperature of 103 degrees or higher.
- Pale or abnormally red gums and/or tongue.
- Bloodshot, red eyes.
- Decreased urination – or none at all
If your dog is showing any symptoms, get him into a cool area, and give him cool water to drink.
If he does not improve, you should contact your family veterinarian.
#15 Limit Outdoor Activities To Non-peak Sunlight Hours
Ideally, the best time to walk your dog is either early morning or in the evening, when the sun is not bright in the sky.
During these hours, not only is the heat down, but the humidity is, as well.
You should still always bring water for your pet no matter the time of day (or evening!).
#16 Offer a Doggy Cooling Pad
Okay, these are awesome, and they work great.
A dog cooling pad is a specialized mat designed specifically to cool your dog down.
Something like the Bigwing Pet Cooling Pad works wonders during heatwaves (I have 2!), both the dogs and my little princess, absolutely love them.
By making contact with your dogs’ underside, the pad helps to cool his body temperature down very quickly, a priceless tool when it comes to avoiding heatstroke.
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#17 Apply Wet Towels To The Bottom Of His Paws
Another way to rapidly cool your dog’s’ body temperature is to press wet towels to the bottom of his feet.
Since this is one of the only areas that they can perspire from, it is a great way to cool him if he has gotten too warm.
#18 Rubbing Alcohol On The Paw Pads
If your dog is in serious condition, rubbing alcohol baths for his paws may help.
The alcohol will dissipate thereby cooling your dog’s’ body temperature down.
Even if he seems to be better, please bring him into the veterinarian for a checkup, just in case.
#19 No Dog Houses
I know that a doghouse probably seems like a good idea but they can turn into heat boxes rather quickly.
The air cannot circulate so it can make the situation worse.
You are better off using tarps or the like to build your own shade – see above.
#20 Bald is Not Beautiful When It Comes To Your Dog’s Coat
It may seem logical to want to shave your dogs’ coat but this is not a good idea.
Your dogs’ coat actually helps to regulate his temperature.
Shaving his fur would deprive him of this natural defense mechanism and he could get a sunburn, ouch.
#21 Your Best Bet is a Vet
When it comes to heat issues with your dog, it is nothing to mess around with.
It is always a good idea to have him looked by a doctor if you see any of the warning signs we have discussed today.
According to Peta, in 2018 and 2019, so far, there have been 61 heat-related pet deaths.
Many are not even reported so we may never know the true figure.
The bottom line is that your pup relies on you to keep him safe. Yes, of course, let him have fun this summer but be cautious of the signs.
If your pet has been exposed to long periods of heat, get him seen by a veterinarian as soon as possible. It just might save his life.
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Which Tip Helped You the Most?
Ever since I was a little girl, I have had a special affinity for animals, with an emphasis on dogs.
They have the purest souls. There are so many lessons that can be learned by our four-legged sidekicks.
They harbor no judgment, put their human lives above their own, and they love with their very last breath, even when we don’t deserve it.
Thank you for reading. I would love to hear your feedback and pet stories!
I truly hope that these tips can help keep your precious pooches safe.
If I have missed any important ones, please feel free to add them in the comments.
Please share this article with all of your puppy parent friends, let’s work together to prevent unnecessary and fully preventable, pet deaths this year.
Remember, never leave your pet unattended in a car. If you find an animal locked in a car, help them.
It takes only minutes for damage to be done by the heat. If you see something, do something! Call the police, or attempt to locate the owner.
That lovable little furball will be eternally grateful. Have a fabulous (and safe) summer!
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