Canine Cool: An Essential Guide To Surviving The Summer Heat

Heat can be deadly for dogs, learn about the best ways to protect your furry friend from overheating and how to survive the summer heat.

Canine Cool: An Essential Guide To Surviving The Summer Heat
Canine Cool: Survive The Summer

Its hot out there! Everyone is complaining about the heat, and those of us who own dogs need to know that we must be extra careful in the summer because our dogs never complain. The long days of summer are getting hotter with higher than normal temperatures that can pose a serious threat to our dogs, so lets take a moment to talk about canine cool and surviving the summer.

Dogs don't sweat in the same way we do and they struggle in the heat, but the good news is that there are numerous ways you can help your dog stay cool, hydrated, and comfortable throughout the roasting hot summer season.

Understanding the Impact of Heat on Dogs

Dogs regulate their body temperature primarily through panting, but when the surrounding temperatures become too high, their natural cooling method can become overwhelmed. Some breeds, especially those with short snouts like Bulldogs and Pugs, or those with thick coats like Huskies, are particularly susceptible to overheating. But really any dog breed can suffer from heatstroke if the temperatures are high enough, or if they don't have enough shade, water, or ventilation, be it a cool breeze, fans to move air, or air conditioning.

Keep a close eye out for the signs of heatstroke in dogs, watch carefully for signs of heavy panting, excessive drooling, lethargy, uncoordinated movements, vomiting, and partial loss of consciousness. Heatstroke is a serious, life-threatening condition and any dog showing these symptoms should be taken to a vet immediately. When in doubt, if you can't cool your dog down and you see these symptoms, head straight to the vet and dont risk your dogs health.

Keep Your Dog Hydrated

Dogs might be our best friends, but water is a dog's best friend in summer. Make super sure that your dog has access to plenty of fresh, cool water, both indoors and outdoors. You might consider investing in a larger water bowl for the summer months, or even a water dispenser that keeps the water cold, your dog will definitely appreciate it. Try mixing ice cubes in if you dont mind a mess.

I give mine ice cubes to lick or chew, its a great way to cool them down too, but be cautious with smaller dogs as larger ice cubes could pose a choking hazard. It leaves drips all over your floor, but those of us with labradors will be used to that already. There are also special products on the market, like dog-friendly "ice cream" and "popsicles" that can help keep your dog hydrated and cool.

Create a Cool Environment

Make sure your dog always has a cool place to rest, especially during the hottest part of the day. Indoors, this might mean placing their bed in a tiled area, or providing them with a cooling mat, or cooling vest. I personally default to air conditioning because I work from home all day, so my house is always cool but it gets expensive in the summer so i use it sparingly and have a big fan.

Outdoors, make sure there is ample shade, either naturally from trees or from a man-made structure like a canopy or doghouse. However, remember that doghouses can get hot inside if they're not well ventilated. Cooling pads can also be used outdoors, but make sure they're in the shade as direct sunlight can heat them up, unless they are electrically cooled they won't cope with the heat.

Walks and Exercise

During summer, try to avoid walking your dog during the hottest parts of the day, which is usually between 10 am and 4 pm. Instead, walk them early in the morning or late in the evening when temperatures are cooler, walking after midnight is perfect, nobody is around and you have the streets to yourself in the coolest part of the night. In the summer my dog and I become night walkers.

Remember that pavement can get hot in the sun and can burn your dog's paw pads, its the reason my dog and I become night walkers. She sleeps all day, I join her for a siesta in the hottest part of the day and we are active at night. If you must go out in the heat try to walk on the grass where possible and test the pavement with your bare foot, if it's too hot for you, it's too hot for your dog!

There are dog boots that can protect your dog's feet from the hot ground if your dog takes to them. When playing, try to avoid games that involve a lot of running and jumping as these can quickly overheat your dog. Instead, try games that involve water, having them fetch toys from a paddling pool is always fun.

Use Water to Keep Them Cool

Many dogs love to play in water and it's a great way to cool them down. Consider getting a paddling pool for your dog to splash around in. Make sure it's shallow enough for your dog to stand in and always supervise them when they're playing in water. If you believe that the summers are going to get hotter and hotter, consider investing in a very small cold water pool in the shade so your dog always has access to cool water, its significantly cheaper than a normal swimming pool to build and operate, my friends who built one use them to cool down too.

You can also use a garden hose to gently spray your dog, focusing on their underbelly and paws as these areas help them to cool down. Another effective way to cool your dog down is to use wet towels out of the fridge. Place them on your dog's neck, armpits, and between their hind legs if you need to lower their temperature because you see symptoms of heatstroke, make sure you always have lots of ice so you can make an ice bath if they really start to suffer.

Monitor Your Dog's Weight

Overweight dogs are at a higher risk of overheating, so maintaining a healthy weight is even more important in the summer. If your dog needs to lose weight, summer can be a good time to start as the longer days mean more opportunities for exercise. But avoid vigorous exercise in the heat. Instead, opt for low-intensity, steady-state exercise like walking or swimming. And remember, diet plays a larger role in weight loss than exercise, so consider consulting your vet about a suitable diet plan if they seem a overweight in the summer.

Never Leave Your Dog in a Car

Even with the windows open, a car can rapidly reach dangerous temperatures. Leaving your dog in a car on a hot day, even for just a few minutes, can be fatal. Always take your dog with you when you leave the car, if people see your dog suffering in a hot car they will definitely break the window to save your dog, even if you think your dog is fine. In many countries it is considered a moral right, nobody gets prosecuted for the property damage if a dog is involved.

Consider Grooming

If your dog has a naturally thick coat, consider getting them professionally groomed for the summer. A good groomer will know how much fur can be safely removed without risking sunburn. Remember, never shave your dog's fur completely off, as it helps to protect their skin from the sun, but thinning and trimming is fine depending on the dog breed. Speak to an experienced dog groomer about your dogs hair before cutting it in any way.

Use Sunscreen

Just like humans, dogs can get sunburned, especially those with short or light colored fur. Use a dog-safe sunscreen on your dog's nose, ears, and belly, and make sure they have shade to rest in if they're outside.

The summer heat doesn't have to be a threat to your dog. With careful planning and precaution, you can make sure that your furry friend stays safe and comfortable during hot weather. Always keep an eye out for signs of overheating and remember to consult a vet if you're unsure about your dog's health. Your canine companion relies on you to help them navigate the challenges of summer, follow our recommendations and you're well-equipped to do just that.

Stay cool out there puppers!