How to Keep Dogs Cool in the Summer (While Still Having Fun!)
Just because it’s the “dog days of summer” doesn’t mean you can’t have fun with your pup!
If you’re wondering how to keep dogs cool in the summer without simply keeping them inside until fall, wonder no more — there’s lots of ways to keep Fido comfortable while also having fun in the sun.
Summer Activities You Can Do With Your Dog
There are many summer activities you can do with your dog that still give you the chance to cool down.
Getting out on the water is a great way to enjoy summer with your dog. That’s because if it gets too hot, you and Fido can simply hop in the water! Paddle boarding, kayaking and canoeing are all good options. (Just remember that you and your pup should always wear life jackets, even if you’re both strong doggy-paddlers.)
Another way to enjoy summer with your pup is to choose outdoor activities that let you stay in the shade. Hike or camp in a forest with plenty of canopy cover, or take an umbrella to the beach.
Looking for something more unique to do with your best pal? Summer is a great time for scent games! Hide some of your dog’s treats or food around the house first, and you can work up to searching in the backyard.
Scentwork is great for summer because it’s a relatively low-energy activity, at least physically. Your dog won’t be running around as much as they would playing fetch, so they’re less likely to push themselves too far and overheat.
In addition to tasty food items, you can also train your dog to sniff out distinctive smells — like lavender or peppermint — and reward him with treats for finding it. Because scentwork requires your pup to use both their sniffer and their noggin to find the hidden treasure, it’s still challenging, interesting and fun! Plus, the summer heat will make outdoor smells stronger, which makes it the perfect time to start learning this skill.
Finally, if all else fails, there’s the most classic summer activity of all — playing in a pool or sprinklers! Dogs, kids and adults of all ages love the chance to splash in the sun.
Techniques to Keep Your Dog Cool in Summer
There are many ways to keep your dog cool and safe in the sun!
One of the biggest and most important concerns when the weather is warm is walking your dog on hot pavement. It’s easy to forget about because we have the benefit of shoes, but the last thing you want is roasting your poor pup’s paws! Hot pavement can seriously scorch the skin off your dog’s paw pads, especially on days that are 75 degrees Fahrenheit or above.
To check if the pavement is too hot to walk on, press your hand to the pavement for several seconds (or, take your shoes off and stand on it). If it’s uncomfortable or even painful after a few seconds, it’s too hot for your dog. Walk in the grass instead.
Or, even better: invest in a set of dog booties to protect Fido’s feet from hot pavement! Yes, some dogs are skeptical of the foreign feeling of wearing shoes, but with enough time and tasty treats, your pup will associate booties with good things.
Have you ever seen your dog stretch out on a tile floor? Dogs naturally seek out comfortable places to cool down, and a cooling mat provides the perfect place. Doggy cooling mats are relatively inexpensive, and give your pup the same contentment you feel when you lay your head on the cool side of the pillow!
In fact, you can even take your cooling mat on-the-god with wearable cooling vests and cooling bandanas. They’re made of a special material that whisks heat away and helps your pup maintain the right body temperature.
Heat isn’t the only risk of summer, however: don’t forget about protecting your pup from the sun in other ways. A pair of doggy sunglasses will protect your pup’s eyes from damage, and also help Fido see more comfortably on bright days.
Remember that dogs’ eyes are more photo-sensitive than ours, meaning that what’s a little bright to us is very bright to your pup. (Plus, stylish doggy shades will give your pal total swag!)
You may also want to consider investing in dog friendly sunscreen. Yes, you heard correctly! Some dog breeds have sensitive skin, particularly those that are hairless or have short, fine hair (like Greyhounds). Even dogs with long hair can still be burned on their noses and other exposed areas.
Other ways you can keep your dog cool in summer include timing your outdoor activities to be in the early morning or late afternoon, and sticking to the shade.
When it comes to shaded structures, not all covers are the same. A tightly enclosed space (like an outdoor dog house) doesn’t allow for good air flow and heats up quickly — defeating the point of the shade!
Consider setting up a pop up sunshade instead. These shaded doggy beds have open sides to allow the breeze to pass through. The best ones are even elevated off the hot ground. Of course, you could always seek out tree cover to enjoy a more natural source of shade!
Finally, one of the best ways to help your pup beat the heat is with cooling toys or treats. Some toys are specially designed to absorb water and freeze, becoming long-lasting chews.
We find it’s easier and more fun, however, to DIY your own! Simply stuff a few of your pup’s favorite treats into a Kong or similar toy, and then fill it up with water or bone broth. Once frozen, the toy becomes the perfect chew that rewards your pup for every lick!
You can get really creative with DIY pupsicles. We suggest filling an ice cube tray with Freeze-Dried Minnows to make some fun frozen fish treats!
Signs Your Dog Has Heatstroke
Dehydration and heatstroke are two of the biggest health risks to your dog in hot weather.
Make sure your dog stays hydrated, but don’t let them gulp down large amounts of water at once. This can make Fido seriously sick or simply make him puke the water back up, which defeats the point!
Small, frequent sips of water throughout the day is best. If you’re going outside in hot weather, always have enough water on hand that you and Fido can drink often, without having to ration.
While any dog can suffer the effects of heatstroke, some pups are especially vulnerable to overheating. Flat-faced (brachycephalic) dogs, large dogs, very fluffy dogs, overweight dogs and dogs with compromised health are all more likely to suffer from heatstroke.
If you have a dog who checks several of these boxes — for example, a chubby Mastiff — be extremely careful. Heatstroke can set in without much warning for vulnerable dogs, and it can quickly be fatal.
It’s also important to be aware that even young, healthy dogs can play too hard or too long, and not realize they’re overheating until it hits them. As a devoted dog parent, it’s up to you to monitor your dog’s activity. Even if your pup is willing to fetch until he drops, you have to be the one to call a halt when he starts flagging!
Know the signs of canine heatstroke: If your dog is panting excessively, seems confused or disoriented, is “wobbly” when walking or has bright red gums, immediately stop all activity. Call your vet while you cool your pup down.
If you have a rectal thermometer in your dog first aid kit, you can also confirm heatstroke by checking your dog’s body temperature. Anything over 103 degrees Fahrenheit is dangerously high.
If you realize your dog is dangerously hot, it may be tempting to cool them down as quickly as you can. However, it’s important to bring down your dog’s temperature slowly and steadily. If you pour ice-cold water over them or otherwise cool them too quickly, you run the risk of your dog going into shock.
Here are the steps you should take instead:
1. Immediately move your dog into shade or air-conditioned indoors.
2. If your dog is still trying to be active, encourage them to lay down and be still.
3. Offer your pup small amounts of room temperature water at a time; do not allow them to drink too quickly.
4. Carefully pour room temperature water over their body. The evaporation, even more than the water itself, will naturally cool them.
5. Rather than ice packs, it’s better to tuck cool, damp washcloths under your dog’s hips and armpits and around the back of their neck.
Keep your vet on the line so you can update them as you monitor your dog. Keep checking your pup’s gums and breathing. Your vet may want you to bring your dog in, especially if your pup begins seizing or foaming at the mouth.
Even if your dog does cool down and appears to recover, you should still limit their activity and monitor them closely for the next several hours. Don’t be afraid to take Fido to the vet anyway, just in case the heatstroke caused any kind of damage.
Summer means pool parties and outdoor adventures — and it’s only natural you’d want your best buddy right there with you. As long as you’re taking steps to keep your dog cool and hydrated, there’s no reason you and Fido can’t enjoy the sunny weather together!