We’re in the midst of another brutal summer with temps well over 100 degrees. It’s important that you find ways to keep your dog cool when excessive heat hits. Heat stroke and heat exhaustion are very real threats for dogs. If you don’t take the proper precautions, the summer heat could do actual damage or even kill your pet. Just think, would you like to be outside during the summer months for hours at a time without any relief from the heat?

Overheating  and dehydration are some of the most common and dangerous conditions that a dog could have. Without immediate care, these issues could lead to the death of the animal. Here are some tips, tricks and simple ways to keep your dog cool in summer.

1. Hydration is the key

The number one way to make sure your dog does not overheat or become dehydrated is to constantly have fresh, clean and cool water available to him. If it is a particularly hot day, add some ice to make sure the water keeps cool. If you are frequently out and about with you dog, you should get a dog-friendly water bottle. They come with attachable bowls to make it easier for your pet to get as much water as possible.

2. Take precautions when walking

If you have ever walked barefoot on hot asphalt, you know it can easily burn you. Don’t make your dog endure that torture. Take turns walking on the grass, sidewalk or asphalt. Make sure to stick to the grass whenever possible. You can get dog booties or use Musher’s Secret Oilto protect your dog’s feet without interfering with the evaporation from his paws. Change your walk schedule to cooler times of the day like early morning or at night. Beating the sun is one of the best ways to keep your dog cool in summer.

3. Do what’s best for your dog

Dogs can get overheated in temperatures as low as 80 degrees, but if it gets above 85 it’s best to just leave your pets at home. There are many ways to make sure your dog stays cool while at home. Obviously staying inside with a nice air conditioner or fan is the best option.

However, if you have to keep your dog outside, make sure he can keep cool. Below are some simple ways to keep your dog cool in summer when he’s outdoors:

  • Buy a raised dog house to provide shade and a nice place to cool down. Make sure it is well-ventilated.
  • Get a doggy bed made specifically for cooling down your canine friend.
  • Use a plastic kiddie pool full of water to make a cool place for your dog to stand or lay.
  • Shade, shade, shade! Make sure your dog has a lot of shade so he can get away from the hot sun.
  • Invest in some misters or use a pan of ice with a fan in front of it to help cool your dog down.
  • Buy a cooling vest for your dog. These are also really helpful when you are out and about with your pooch.

When keeping your dog inside, make sure he knows why he is being cooped up. Let him go outside to feel how hot it is before letting him relax inside for the rest of the day.

4. Quick ways to keep your dog cool in summer
  • Let him dig – it is cooler under the top layer of dirt;
  • Take him for a swim;
  • Give him some doggy ice cream (check this recipe);
  • Apply sunscreen to his coat and skin to protect against sunburn;
  • Don’t over exercise him;
  • Give him a cold, wet towel to lay on or put cool water on his chest and paws;
  • Try using a doggy cooling mat;
  • Like humans, dogs sweat (from only certain places) to get rid of heat. To help, you can put a small amount of rubbing alcohol on the pads of their feet using a cotton ball. Since rubbing alcohol has a lower boiling point, it evaporates faster.
5. Never ever leave your dog in a parked vehicle

Just like with children, leaving your dog alone in a parked car when the temperature is warm is extremely dangerous and can lead to serious injuries or death. Cracking the window open is not enough. You cannot leave your pet unattended in a hot car!

Within 10 minutes, the temperature in the car can rise 20 degrees. Within an hour it is up to 45 degrees hotter than the outside temperature. Even if the temperature is 70 F degrees outside, after 30 minutes it may have risen to over 100 degrees inside the car. If you find an animal left in a car alone follow these steps:

  1. Take down the make, model, and license number;
  2. Go to any local businesses and talk to the managers to try and find the owner;
  3. Call the non-emergency police line or the animal control and wait for instructions from them.
6. Do not give your dog a haircut

Most people would look at a dog on a hot day and think “Poor guy, he must be so hot under all that fur!” However, animals fur helps them regulate their body temperature and actually helps them stay cool. A haircut could make it more likely that your dog could get sunburned. Brushing to get excess fur off can be helpful to take away any mats or stray undercoat that could impede the air from flowing across their hair.

7. Know the signs of overheating and dehydration

Sometimes it can be hard to tell if your dog is getting overheated if you don’t know the warning signs. Make sure you are educated about the symptoms and spread your knowledge to other pet owners.

Here is what to look for:

  • Eyes are sunken;
  • Visibly tired and lethargic;
  • Body is warm to the touch;
  • Unsteady on his feet/falling over/can’t stand;
  • Nose and mouth are dry, saliva is thick;
  • Urine is dark in color;
  • Vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite;
  • Skin has lost its elasticity, when pulled up it takes longer to go back down flat onto body.

When cooling down your dog you need to make sure you are doing it safely so as not to lower his core temperature too quickly. This could cause shock and hypothermia.

  • DO NOT USE ICE TO COOL HIM DOWN. It can cool him down way too quickly. Instead use a cold washcloth on your dog’s paws, armpits and the back of his neck.
  • Do not put any water or towels on his back. This can actually keep the heat from escaping. Dogs lose heat from their mouths and feet. They cool from the bottom up.
  • You can take some cold water in a teaspoon and gently drip it onto your dog’s tongue. This is a good way to give him water if he isn’t drinking by himself.
  • Seek medical attention. It is always best to make sure your pet gets the care he needs as soon as possible.