14 Tips for Keeping Your Dog Cool on Hot Summer Days

On hot summer days, Brooklyn can be muggy, uncomfortable, and downright disagreeable as the temperatures really begin to rise. There are Sunday afternoons when, if I had my way, I might not ever leave the comfort of my air-conditioned apartment. Cooper, however, has basic necessities that just need to be taken care of outside. Plus, even a lazy apartment dog gets a little stir crazy after being cooped up all day. So, out we go.

Since summer weather is something all dog owners must face (barring you northern dwellers), I’ve put together a few tips for keeping your canine cool in the summer weather.

Photo by David Beatz

Photo by David Beatz

Your dog wears a fur coat all year round

Understand that if you feel hot, it’s even hotter for your dog. Dogs don’t sweat the way humans do – they regulate their temperature through their paws and by panting.

Dogs with thin, short coats are better able to handle the heat. Racing dogs, such as greyhounds and whippets do especially well in hot weather. Their long noses cool the air and their lungs and heart are efficient at distributing oxygen throughout the body. However, breeds like pugs, Boston terriers, and bulldogs have a more challenging time with the warmer temperatures because their shorter nasal passages make it harder for them to release heat when they pant. Large, elderly, or overweight dogs also tend to struggle as the mercury rises.

Tips for keeping your dog cool

  1. Provide fresh drinking water in a metal bowl and replenish it often. Add a few ice cubes to the dish so the temperature stays nice and cool.

  2. Bring a collapsible water dish on walks. Stick a water bottle in the freezer to carry with you so you always have cold water on hand (beneficial for you and your four-legged friend).

  3. Watch out for hot sidewalks, as they can burn a dog’s foot pads. If the pavement is too hot for your hands, it’s too hot for your dog’s paws.

  4. Save longer walks and playtime for early morning or evening when the temperature is cooler.

  5. If your dog is outside in the yard, be sure to offer shade. A doghouse can trap heat, but a shady area created by a tree, awning, or collapsible shade tent allows air to circulate.

  6. This goes without saying, but never ever leave your dog in the car. If your destination is not dog friendly, leave your pet at home.  

  7. Stuff your dog’s Kong with peanut butter or mashed banana and put it in the freezer to create a yummy frozen treat.

  8. Wet a hand towel or a bandanna and put it in the fridge so your dog will have something cool to wear after (or during) a walk.

  9. If you have a backyard, turn on the sprinkler, attach a mister to the hose, or fill up the kiddie pool so your dog can splash around.

  10. Find a dog-friendly beach – for those in the New York area, here’s a list.

  11. Keep your dog well groomed. This could mean brushing frequently to get rid of excess hair or giving your pet a short summertime haircut if it’s appropriate for the breed. Do be aware that short hair can lead to sunburn, so if you go this route, take adequate precautions against summer’s dangerous rays.

  12. There is plenty of summertime gear available to keep your dog cool, such as a cooling vest or Kool Collar.

  13. You can also buy a cooling mat that absorbs your pet’s body heat or an elevated bed that allows airflow underneath the sleeping surface.  

  14. And, last but not least, make your dog some sweet and/or savory pupsicles for a special summertime treat!

Beware of Heatstroke

Ultimately, prevention is better than dealing with the problems later. However, for your dog’s health and safety, it’s important to be aware of the signs of heatstroke. They include:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Agitation
  • Heavy panting and/or drooling
  • Dizziness or weakness
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Dark or red gums and tongue
  • Thick saliva
  • Vomiting

If you see these signs, and believe your dog may be overheating, head to the vet ASAP. Try to cool your pet down with wet towels on the way to the vet’s office, but be cautious about cooling too quickly  (for example, with an ice bath), as this can be dangerous.

Go play!

Now pack up some pupsicles and a collapsible water dish, strap on a Kool Collar, and take your pup to the beach!