I have a dog, and the summer months can be an anxious time. After all, I began wondering how to keep my dog cool in the heat. How is this possible when it’s hot outside? As temperatures rise and days grow shorter, dogs are at risk for heatstroke. Thankfully, I found some simple things that pet owners can do to help their furry friends stay safe in the summertime.
Dogs need water to stay healthy in the summer. They cannot sweat as humans do, so they need water to cool down when it is hot outside. How much water your dog needs will vary based on their activity levels, size, the thickness of their coat, and what conditions they’re exposed to during the day.
Whether your beloved dog spends most of its time in your home or outside, provide plenty of water (ideally divided into multiple bowls) to prevent dehydration. When looking for different ways to keep my dog cool in the heat, I increased the amount of water in his current bowl and placed out a few more for good measure.
Consider installing a running water fountain either indoors or outdoors. Make sure your plumbing gets fixed before you do this, as the water running through the fountain may create additional pressure or affect the current pressure your home has.
If your neck of the woods stays hot all the time and has no real break from the heat, your dog might not know how to deal with the heat, especially if you’ve just moved there from a different climate. I was fortunate enough to have found this out over my last two years at college, where there is a slight variation in weather from season to season.
Placing multiple fans around my home in safe places was another way I learned how to keep my dog cool in the heat. When you set them up, make sure they’re set up in areas where the dog’s tail or fur won’t become entangled in it and that the fan won’t be knocked over. Multiple fans will circulate the air, which may help cool them off. For those of us worried about our electrical bill, numerous fans can be plugged into power strips and timed to only turn on during extreme heat spells, such as a power-saving mode where the fan will only kick on when needed.
When I wondered how to keep my dog cool in the heat, I asked my veterinarian for more tips. I was surprised to learn that animals have a more challenging time staying cool in the summer because they can’t release heat from their bodies like humans. This inability leaves them vulnerable to heatstroke, which is an immediate emergency and requires veterinary care.
Animals need to see their veterinarian during the summer months to be checked for any underlying medical problems and advised on how best to keep cool. Various underlying health conditions can be irritated by hot weather, and your breed may need specialized care to avoid becoming overheated quickly. Other severe medical conditions that can be triggered by excessive heat include heat exhaustion and kidney failure.
Watch for Warning Signs
In addition to the excessive panting and lethargy that may indicate heat exhaustion and already overheated pets, there are some other warning signs that you should watch for if your dog is uncomfortable in the heat. I learned when exploring different ways on how to keep my dog cool in the heat that one sign of a pet that’s about to overheat includes a tongue that’s either bright red or blue-tinged because the blood isn’t getting sufficient oxygen. Excessive drooling is another common sign, as dogs try to cool their bodies through the evaporation of saliva. Teeth chattering, an increase in heart rate and abnormal behavior can also be symptoms as the heat overcomes them.
Time the Exercise
When learning different ways to keep my dog cool in the heat, I realized that the hottest parts of the day vary based on your physical location in the world. If you live closer to the equator or near places that experience high humidity, you may experience more extended periods of the day when the heat is more intense. One way to keep your pet from overheating in these situations is to make sure that you exercise them early in the morning or later at night when it’s cooler. You should also try not to exercise them during the peak hours of the day.
Make Sure Dogs Aren’t Overweight
One of my new colleagues informed me that her pet was overweight, causing him problems with staying cool in hot weather conditions. When looking to keep my dog cool in the heat, I considered my dog’s weight. The excess weight made him hotter when outside playing in the summer heat than other dogs his age who weren’t as heavy. It’s suggested regular exercise along with a diet change to reduce some of this extra weight.
Cooling Pet Clothing
While actively seeking methods on how to keep my dog cool in the heat, I learned about special cooling vests or bandanas. They’re especially helpful if your pup tends to overheat or already has medical concerns. These special cooling vests and bandanas use either water, gel packs, or a chemical reaction to absorb heat from your dog’s body and then release the cool air back into it. They’re designed to operate for several hours before needing to be recharged in some way. Outside of this specially made pet clothing, dogs shouldn’t be dressed too heavily, or their body temperature can increase.
Regular grooming, including bathing, and brushing can help your dog’s fur to avoid becoming caked with mud or dirt, which acts as an insulator. If your dog likes to play in the soil and earth, but it’s going to be hot, you must clean your dog regularly. If the coat becomes matted with dried dirt or mud, the dog can become overheated.
Build Adequate Outdoor Shelter
Building an adequate outdoor shelter is perhaps one of the simplest but most important things you can do for your dog if temperatures rise above what they’re accustomed to and provides a cool place for them to rest. I considered precisely doing this for my fur baby when learning how to keep my dog cool in the heat. Everyone’s outdoor situation is different and careful consideration should be given to design and solutions. This type of solution might mean erecting a tarp over their favorite sleeping area, building an air-conditioned kennel, or even covering their kennel with shade cloths or sheets soaked with cold water and then left to evaporate.
- Place the structure or shelter in an area where there will be shade for most of the day.
- Build a larger doghouse or a dog run with a roof over it. Consult a qualified residential roofer to help with this if necessary.
Be careful with any do-it-yourself solutions and keep all wires, cords, and electronics out of the weather elements and away from chewing teeth.
Some people’s homes are fortunate enough to have a pool in their backyard. If this is the case, make sure you perform the necessary swimming pool maintenance with keeping in mind that your dog will be floating around. Having your dog in the pool may introduce additional contaminants into the pool, and this might cause other pool repairs.
When I wanted to know how to keep my dog cool in the heat, I took my dog to my friend’s backyard pool, and they informed me that their dogs wanted to be in the pool all the time. They also said that they had to empty the pool, drain it for maintenance once a month, and clean out all the bleach. This information was beneficial because I didn’t realize there could be so many chemicals from the dog’s hair, things shed into the pool, and even peeing in the water, that could increase the need for pool repair and the expense that it comes with.
If you don’t have a pool in your yard or above ground, then consider purchasing a small child-size pool and filling it with water from the hose. Your dog might enjoy getting to play in the water and cooling off. Just be sure that there is no unsupervised interaction with a pool while you are not watching, especially if your dog is not well-trained or isn’t familiar with a pool. Also, make sure there’s nothing dangerous around, such as sharp objects or poisonous plants that could be consumed accidentally.
The best way I learned how to help my dog stay cool in the heat is the time-tested usage of air conditioning. Air conditioning can be set slightly higher when you’re gone and cooler when you’re home, but it should still provide a comfortable temperature in your home for your pet at any time of day or night. If you don’t have one, consider getting an HVAC installation completed, giving your home an air conditioning unit. You can do many things to utilize the most efficient use of air conditioning to help keep your dog cooler.
- Keep the windows closed so the air conditioning can run without competition from the outside air.
- Have regular maintenance performed on the HVAC system.
- Replace the filters at least monthly, more during high heat or high pollution seasons.
- Consider getting an air conditioning system replacement if your current one is outdated or in significant need of repair.
Being a Wet Dog is a Good Thing
In the absence of having air conditioning, extra fans, or a pool to play in, simply getting wet and drying off naturally can help. Wet your dog down with a hose or in the bathtub and let them dry naturally. You’ll want to cover your furniture with protective materials to prevent your dog from wrecking your favorites.
Consider giving your dogs cool food and snacks, like ice cubes or frozen yogurt topped with their favorite dog-safe flavorings. When you’re providing extra liquids for your dog, avoid any liquids containing added sugar because sugars remove the protective coating on the tongue and aren’t good for their health.
When exploring different ways on how to keep my dog cool in the heat, I learned that some pets prefer cold drinks over ice cubes or frozen treats because it’s easier on their teeth than chewing ice. Just like some humans choose to drink their water ice-cold, so might your pet. For finicky dogs, some people find it helpful to drop ice cubes in their water bowls, letting the ice melt, and this is enough to encourage their dogs to drink more liquids.
Because dogs can spend a considerable amount of time lying on the floor, be aware that carpet flooring can become uncomfortably warm. Hardwood or tile can provide a cooling effect. If you are thinking about getting rid of your carpets and doing a hardwood floor install anyway, this is a great time to consider it.
Dogs also like being outside on decks. You’ll want to consider the type of deck you have. If it’s wood or outdoor tile, then a shaded area will be all that is needed. If it is a composite material that resembles wood, then it might cause the skin to react like it’s up against plastic in the heat. Consider adding a cooling cot for the dog to sleep on during the warmer months.
There may be other ways you can keep your pet safe this summer, but this list gives a surprisingly good start. Your four-legged friend depends on you to keep them happy and healthy!