When the summer heat is sweltering, our dogs can overheat quickly. That's why it's important to find ways to keep your dog cool during hot weather. Cooling ourselves down can be hard enough, but how do we help our dogs beat the heat? Fortunately, there are quite a few ways to help our dogs chill, even on the hottest of days.
1. Keep Your Dog Hydrated
Keeping your dog well-hydrated is critical for their overall health and wellbeing, especially during warmer months or periods of high activity. Dogs cool off naturally by panting, and they need water to help accomplish this. Dehydration in dogs can lead to serious health problems, such as kidney or urinary issues. Here are some steps you can take to ensure your dog stays adequately hydrated:
- Provide fresh water at all times: Make sure your dog has constant access to fresh, clean water. Their water bowl should be filled at all times and replenished as needed throughout the day.
- Monitor their water intake: Monitoring how much water your dog drinks can help you understand if they are drinking enough, or potentially too much.
- Scatter water bowls throughout your home: Place multiple water bowls around your house during the summer months, especially if you have more than one dog. This ensures that your dog will always have water available, no matter where they are.
- Add water to food: Adding water to your dog's food can help keep them hydrated. You may also want to consider adding bone broth or offering it on its own.
- Use hydrating treats: You can also use hydrating treats as a supplement to water, especially during the summer.
If you keep your dog's water bowl outside, keep it in a shaded location. Metal and ceramic bowls can heat up in direct sunlight, warming water up too much to effectively cool down your dog.
2. Take Time Out From Activity
Taking regular time-outs during outdoor activities on hot days is essential to prevent your dog from overheating. For example, for every 15 to 30 minutes of play, take a 10 to 15 minute break, or longer if the day is particularly hot.
Try to schedule more strenuous activities during the cooler parts of the day, such as early morning or late evening. During the heat of the afternoon, stick to low-key activities and provide plenty of rest periods. Early afternoon is a great time for a nap, too, so give your dog some shade and curl up with them somewhere to help chill out.
3. Use Ice and Frozen Treats
Ice and frozen treats can be an excellent way to help your dog cool down on a hot summer day, while also serving as an enjoyable reward. Here's how you can effectively use them:
- Offer ice cubes: Many dogs enjoy crunching on plain ice cubes. They're a great way to cool down your dog and keep them hydrated at the same time. Make sure the cubes aren't too large to avoid any risk of choking or damaging your dog's teeth.
- Add frozen fruit to their bowl: Some fruits can be frozen and given to your dog as a refreshing treat. Bananas, blueberries, and sliced apples (seeds removed) are all excellent choices. Remember to give these in moderation because of their sugar content.
- Make your own treats: Fill an ice pop mold with a dog-safe liquid (like low-sodium chicken broth, bone broth, or water), add in some small treats, and freeze.
- Frozen yogurt: Plain, unsweetened yogurt can be frozen into bite-sized treats or used as a filling for a Kong or similar toy. You can even blend it with dog-safe fruits for a bit of extra flavor.
While frozen treats are a great tool for cooling down your dog, remember that they are still treats. Make sure they only form a small part of your dog's daily calorie intake to avoid weight gain.
4. Play in the Water
Playing in the water is a wonderful way to help your dog cool off on a hot summer day while also providing them with plenty of fun and exercise. Try these activities:
- Kids' pools: These are shallow enough for most dogs to stand in, and they can provide a nice break from the heat.
- Add a sprinkler: A running sprinkler can serve as a fun game for your dog, who may enjoy chasing or "catching" the water.
- Take out the hose: Playing with a hose can also be a refreshing activity for your dog. You can spray the water for your dog to chase or gently wet their fur, helping them cool off.
- Visit the beach: If you live near a body of water like a lake or beach, consider taking your dog for a swim. This can be an excellent way to cool off and get some exercise.
After playing in a pool, lake, or the ocean, rinse your dog off with fresh water. This helps remove chlorine or salt that can dry out your dog's skin and coat.
5. Protect Outdoor Dogs from the Heat
While it's recommended to keep dogs indoors during extreme weather conditions, some dogs need to remain outside for the majority of the day. Here are some essential tips to protect outdoor dogs from the heat:
- Outdoor dogs need shade: Your dog should have a shaded area where they can escape from the sun. Dog houses aren't ideal because they can trap heat, making them hot and stuffy. Instead, consider something like a canopy. Natural shade from trees can also be helpful, but remember that the sun shifts throughout the day.
- Continuous water supply: Consider using a spill-proof bowl or an automatic refilling system to ensure a constant supply. Never let your dog run out; they need access to fresh water at all times.
- Ventilate the dog house: If your dog spends some time in a doghouse, ensure it's well-ventilated. It should be placed in the shade, and there should be enough air circulation to prevent heat from building up.
- Regular grooming: A well-groomed coat can help protect your dog from the sun and keep them cool. Don't shave your dog's fur off thinking it will keep them cooler, as their coat also protects against sunburn.
6. How to Keep Dogs Cool Without AC
If your dog stays inside most of the day but you don't have air conditioning, you can both suffer as temperatures rise. Try these options to cool off indoors.
- Cooling vest: Designed to use evaporation, ice packs, or cold water to reduce a dog's body temperature.
- Cooling crate pad: Crate pads can help regulate your pet's temperature by providing a cool, comfortable surface within their crate.
- Rubbing alcohol: Dab rubbing alcohol behind their ears, paw pads, and stomach. Alcohol evaporates more quickly than water, so it's a good option to cool them off. Just don't let your dog ingest any of it.
- Spray bottle: Misting your dog's fur with a spray bottle can provide some added relief. Get them damp and let evaporation cool them down.
Use fans: Fans can help circulate air and cool your dog down. Place one near your dog's favorite resting spot.
If possible, set up a room or area of your home to be a designated "cool zone" by blocking out the sun with curtains or blinds and using any available fans to circulate air.
7. Monitor Your Dog's Body Temperature
Your dog's normal body temperature is generally between 101 and 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit. If a dog's body temperature rises above this range, they may experience symptoms of overheating, including excessive panting, drooling, reddened gums, vomiting, diarrhea, uncoordinated movement, or collapse.
That's why it's important to have a pet thermometer on hand and understand how to use it properly. If you suspect your dog is overheated, immediately move them to a cooler environment, provide fresh water, and contact your vet.
Why Cars Are So Dangerous for Dogs
Even on a mild day - say in the mid to upper 70 degrees Fahrenheit range - the inside of your car can reach temperatures in the 100s within just a few minutes. That's why it's never OK to leave your dog inside a car unattended. Yes, this includes days where it isn't too hot outside, or if you cracked the window for them. There's just too much danger to risk it.
Keep This List Handy
Bookmark this article for ideas over the summer to cool your dog down. Or, you can jot down the ideas you like most that will work for your pup. Either way, keeping your pooch cool will result in a happier, healthier dog. If you don't have the supplies listed in the article, this is also the time to grab them. Your dog will thank you.