How To Help Your Dog Stay Cool In The Summer Heat

by Kaitlyn Wylde
David McNew/Getty Images News/Getty Images

The dog days of summer are almost here, and with them comes hot heat, scorching sunshine, and long tongues for our furry friends. When the temperature heats up, your responsibility as a dog parent becomes a lot more demanding. In order to help keep your dog cool in the summer you need to constantly be on temperature control watch. Dogs don't exactly know what's best for them when it comes to staying healthy and safe in the sun. Most breeds will remain interested in being outside and getting regular exercise during the summer, which makes it your job to be the bad cop who limits their activity and constantly enforces time outs.

That said, it's totally possible to have a happy and healthy summer outside with your pup, all it takes is some planning ahead and diligence. Aka, from this day forward, you should not be leaving the house without a travel doggy water bowl and portable shade options. And, no matter where you live or how shady it is, you should not be leaving your dog in the car — not only is it illegal in 16 states, but it's also extremely dangerous for your pup. Here I've outlined a few other summer musts and no-no's for dog safety in the hot hot heat. If your dog has an pre-existing conditions or is on medication, you should check with your vet before you spend time outside together. With a little restructuring, you and your pup can have a great summer together.

Limit Exercise

No matter how much your dog whimpers by the frisbee, remember to limit their exercise. If you have an active breed that needs a lot of play time, save it for early morning and evening to avoid peak sun hours. And if possible, turn the A/C up and play inside.

Always Have Cool Water

Make sure that your dog's water bowl is filled with cool water all throughout the day and night. If you're leaving the house with your dog make sure you have a dog-friendly water bottle or bowl with you — even if you're just going out for a quick walk. The warmer temperatures will leave your dog more dehydrated than usual, even if they're just hanging out, so make sure they always have access to water.

Always Provide Shade

If you're spending time outside with your pup, make sure there is shade available. If you're headed to the beach, bring an umbrella or doggy tent. If you're headed to the park, sit by a tree that provides shade. Even if you're just letting your dog out in the backyard, make sure they have access to indoors or shade. It doesn't take long for a dog to get overheated. Also keep in mind that sun isn't the only factor that contributes to heatstroke, humidity can be equally as dangerous so even if the sun isn't shining, your dog should still have constant access to a cool indoor space.

Be Ready To Provide A Cool-Down

If you're outside with your dog on a hot summer day, make sure that in addition to a water bowl, you have a big enough water supply and a cotton cloth to give your dog a cool-down bath if they get too overheated. If you have nothing but a water bottle with you, you can splash water on their neck and chest which will help them cool down, too.

Limit Street Walks

During a hot summer day, the pavement becomes too hot for your dog's paws and can cause burns, irritations, and overheating. To avoid this, walk your dog on the pavement in the early morning, on the shady side of the street, and after sundown. If pavement walks can't be avoided during the sunniest hours, limit the time.

Head To The Groomers

Though it's never safe to shave your dog, a hair cut will help them cool down more efficiently as heat can get trapped under the fur. Just make sure that the hair isn't too short, as dogs can get sunburned and a little bit of fur actually helps to keep them cool. When in doubt, check with your vet for instructions to give your groomer.

Practice Car Safety

It's never OK to leave your dog in the car without the air conditioning on during the summer. No, leaving the window open or parking in the shade is not a loophole — it's never safe. When you're in the car with your dog, make sure the air conditioning is on, your pup is shaded from direct sunlight and that you're stopping regularly to give your dog water.

Know Signs Of Heatstroke

If you notice that your pup is panting excessively, having difficulty breathing, increased heart, respiratory rate, is drooling, appears mildly weak, seems confused or faint, heatstroke might be in effect. More serious symptoms can also include seizures, bloody diarrhea and vomit along with an elevated body temperature of over 104 degrees. If you notice that your dog is not acting like itself, bring them to a cool, dry place immediately and call your vet. Heatstroke can be fatal, so when in doubt, head to the emergency room to be safe.