7 Tips to Keep Your Dog Cool in Hot Weather
by Amy Smith - 9/4/19
As summer approaches, dog owners may consider how to keep their pets cool outside in the hot weather. Overheating can cause serious problems for dogs. A dog whose body temperature has risen above 103 degrees Fahrenheit is overheated. Signs of overheating include excessive panting and thirst, difficulty breathing, staggering, lethargy and collapse. If a dog’s temperature rises to 109 degrees it will suffer a life-threatening heatstroke. Overheating and heatstroke are preventable. Follow these tips to help your dog chill out and stay healthy all summer long.
1. Exercise in the Cooler Parts of the Day
Exercise is important year-round, but you’ll need to be more careful about taking your dog for long walks or runs in the summer. Don’t exercise it outside if the temperature is above 90 degrees. Instead, move your daily walk to the early morning or evening hours when the temperature is cooler. Opt for shorter walks on hot days and — when possible — ensure that your dog walks on grass rather than hot pavement or a sidewalk.
2. Provide Shade
If your dog spends much time outside in a yard or a run, make sure it has a shady spot to get out of the direct sun. A place under a large, shady tree, on a porch, or under an awning is optimal, as these areas still allow breezes to blow through and cool your dog. Small doghouses provide shade, but they can become very hot.
3. Bring Your Dog Inside
If it’s over 90 degrees outside, don’t let your furry companion bake outside. Let it relax in an air-conditioned or well-ventilated house. Remember, if you’re hot when outside, your dog is even hotter wearing its fur coat. Let it get out of the heat!
4. Make Plenty of Water — and Icy Treats — Available
Keeping your dog hydrated is one of the most important ways to keep him cool. If you suspect it’s overheated, let it drink water in small amounts until it cools down and don’t offer ice, as you don’t want its body temperature to drop too quickly. However, if you’re simply seeking to prevent overheating, your dog may enjoy ice cubes in the water bowl or frozen treats made from plain water, juice or chicken broth. Always keep the water bowl full and available and take a water bottle with you on walks in hot weather.
5. Go Swimming
If you live near a lake, pond or river, your dog will probably love to cool off by jumping in the water for a swim when feeling the heat. A full body soak feels great on its warm fur and it will stay cool for hours afterward as it slowly dries. Even without a large body of water nearby, you can create a mini-swim experience with an inflatable tub or kiddie pool filled with a garden hose. Or try setting up a sprinkler in the yard for a quick cool-down.
6. Give It a Haircut
If your dog has a long coat, consider a summer haircut. Some vets caution that cutting a dog’s fur too short can increase the risk of sunburn and reduce the cooling effects of its fur. However, trimming the coat to a length of 1 inch may help keep your dog cooler while still providing natural insulation.
7. Never, Ever Leave a Dog in a Parked Car
A parked car can quickly become a death trap for any animal left inside on a hot summer day. Even with windows partially opened, on an 85-degree day the temperature inside a car can soar to 120 degrees in 30 minutes, with potentially fatal effects on an animal inside. Never leave a dog in a parked car for any length of time.
Amy Smith is a writer, specializing in family and parenting topics. She teaches English, Latin, and music at a private school and lives with her husband and five children on a small homestead in rural Pennsylvania.