9 Actionable Tips To Protect Your Dog In The Heat - Canine Compilation
Photo of a dog panting with text reading 'How to protect my dog in the heat this summer'

9 Actionable Tips To Protect Your Dog In The Heat

The Best Ways To Keep Your Pup Cool This Summer

As the temperature starts to rise, we need to think about helping our dogs keep cool in the heat. Dogs heat up quickly and regulate their temperature very differently to people. Overheating can result in serious complications for dogs – ultimately, even death. Here are 9 tips to cool down a panting dog and avoid heatstroke in dogs.

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thumb image making a snuffle mat guide

MAKE FROZEN TREATS OR PUPSICLES

You can quickly and easily prepare some tasty, frozen treats for your dog. That way you’ll always have something to help refresh your pup on hot afternoons. There are lots of healthy and tasty things you can put in ice cube trays or silicone molds.

PENGUIN SHAPE RUBBER ICE CUBE TRAY

  • Perfect for making dog treats
  • Easy to remove ice cubes – pop out easily
  • Made of food-grade rubber
  • Dishwasher safe

PAW AND BONE SILICONE ICE CUBE TRAYS

  • Perfect for making dog treats
  • Easy to remove ice cubes – pop out easily
  • Made of food-grade silicone
  • Dishwasher safe
  • 3 pack

BONE BROTH

See how to prepare bone broth here.

YOGHURT OR KEFIR

Use natural, unsweetened yoghurt or kefir and whip up these tasty treats in a second.

They’re great for your dog AND for you! We often share these on a hot afternoon.

Improve your pup’s breath too by adding some chopped mint – but not English Pennyroyal mint which is toxic to dogs. Use spearmint or peppermint, or lemon balm. See the recipe here.

frozen treats for a dog

FRUIT SALAD

Combine some roughly chopped fruit and water, and freeze in small plastic containers. You could do this in ice cube trays too but you’ll have to chop the fruit up quite small.

KONGS

Freeze a filled Kong! The good old kong toy, good for so many things. Plug up one end with a piece of cheese or chicken and add some cream cheese, cottage cheese, canned dog food, or even kibble, before freezing. Don’t forget to freeze it in a plastic bag to keep your freezer clean of any possible germ contamination.

For a list of food you SHOULD NOT feed your dog, see this article.

Frozen treats can be messy!

Frozen treats are messy! Ideally, these treats should be enjoyed by your pup outside. Whatever you do, don’t give them to your pooch anywhere in your home where fruit salad doggy dribble will stain your carpets or couch…

USE A COOLING MAT OR COOLING JACKET

Cooling mats and jackets are an effective method for helping to avoid heatstroke in dogs. They are now widely available in all pet shops, online and even in some supermarkets. I prefer the mats, which I put in shady places around the garden. When I’m outside, my dogs always want to be outside as well. As long as they have somewhere cool to lie down and shelter from the sun, they can enjoy being outside too.

The cooling mats are great to keep my dog cool at night too. She usually sleeps on the bed but during the summer we have a window open for a breeze and she chooses to lie down on the floor on her cooling mat when she gets too warm.

DOG COOLING MAT

  • fits in crates
  • easy to wipe clean
  • helps keep your pet cool

LIGHTWEIGHT DOG COOLING VEST

  • easy to put on your dog
  • machine washable
  • lightweight
  • keeps your dog cool for hours

GIVE YOUR DOG A PADDLE POOL

Not all dogs like the water, but if yours does, give him hours of joy splashing around in his own pool – it doesn’t have to be an actual pool: a baby bath will do for smaller dogs, or an old, sturdy plastic pool liner or old bath is perfect for a larger dog. Be careful with an older dog to make sure he can get in and out easily. Don’t fill the bath too much either – your pup doesn’t need so much water that he can’t stand up in it. Just lying in cool water will help a dog cool down.

Where I used to live in Argentina, we had a disused jacuzzi in the garden. My boy Mino pretty much lived in that old bath – temperatures there could get up to 44°C. He also LOVED playing with water: digging in it, chasing it, barking at it! The hose was his best friend in the summer. Spraying a dog with water to keep cool can help as long as the dog likes to be sprayed – just try to keep to the shade, out of harsh sunlight.

And yes, the water in this video is absolutely filthy. Believe it or not, it would get that colour just 2 minutes after emptying and refilling the bath – he used to get in and out constantly, dragging fresh mud in with him each time…


Tap twice to load then open Video...

If you plan to use a small paddle pool, watch out for your dog’s nails – if they’re overlong, they might pierce the pool nylon.

photo of my dog Mino cooling down in the water with me about to throw a stick

If you don’t have space in your garden for an old bath, maybe there is a stream or lake near your house that you could take your dog to?

Some dogs dislike playing with water. If that sounds like yours, please don’t make it suffer by spraying it with a hose or forcing it into a pool (unless it is genuinely overheating of course). Although Mino loves the water, my girl, Toxa, hates it and she would be very stressed if I chased her with the hose the way I do Mino.

Also beware of overdoing it with water games and swimming – when your dog takes in too much water it can lead to water intoxication, a potentially fatal illness. Read this article for more information.

These days we no longer have the jacuzzi. Instead we have a collapsible dog pool. I like it because when summer ends it’s great to be able to clean it out well and put it away until next summer. It’s much easier to clean it than the jacuzzi was!

It doesn’t take up any space when it’s not needed either. It’s also lower so it’s easier for dogs to get in and out of. This dog pool is

  • durable
  • foldable / collapsible
  • portable
  • slip resistant

FRESH, CLEAN WATER

Of course, there should always be fresh water available for your dogs. In warm weather though, like us, our dogs will drink much more.

Try adding some ice-cubes to the water bowl to keep the water cool. You might find your pup likes to play with them – Mino loves tossing an ice-cube around.

Photo of a dog panting with text reading 'How to protect my dog in the heat this summer'

RECOGNISE THE SIGNS OF HEATSTROKE IN DOGS

Recognise the signs of heatstroke in dogs and know what to do when you see them in your pup.

SYMPTOMS OF OVERHEATING AND HEATSTROKE IN DOGS

Unlike people, dogs can only sweat from the pads on their paws and their noses, so they can’t can’t cool down as efficiently as we can. Dogs regulate their temperature by panting, but when it’s very hot, panting can’t cool them down quickly enough.

SYMPTOMS OF OVERHEATING

  • Heavy panting
  • Extreme thirst
  • Very red gums and tongue
  • Drooling excessively
  • Uncoordinated behaviour: staggering and weakness
  • Vomiting
  • Collapsing

HOW TO COOL DOWN AN OVERHEATED DOG

An overheating dog needs its temperature lowering urgently, but you have to do this gradually not abruptly. Doing it abruptly might cause your pup to go into shock.

  • Move your dog to a cool place – a room with A/C is best. If you don’t have air conditioning, use a fan to blow cool (not cold) air over your pup.
  • Offer your dog water to drink – not too much at once or it might cause vomiting. Give it water at room temperature, not from the fridge.
  • Bring your dog’s body temperature down by wetting it with cool water (not cold) – use wet towels, a hose, or pour water over your dog in a bath or sink. If you use towels, you will need to keep re-applying them.
  • The most important areas to focus on are your dog’s head, neck and the underside from the front to the back legs.
  • Check your dog’s temperature (rectally). If it is below 104ºF / 40ºC you can stop wetting its body. Too much cooling isn’t good for your pooch either. If you can’t take its temperature, keep gently cooling until your dog’s breathing is settled.
  • Get your pup checked by your vet.

OVERHEATING OR HEATSTROKE?

If your dog’s temperature reaches 109°F / 42.8°C, serious damage is starting to take place in its body. Unchecked, it can result in the brain swelling, seizures, irreversible kidney damage, and ultimately, death.

Is your dog conscious and responsive to your voice? Can he stand? If not, you need to call your vet immediately and let them know you’re on your way with an emergency.

HOW TO KEEP DOG COOL ON A WALK: BE CAREFUL WITH EXERCISE

Avoid walking your pooch in the heat of the day – take your walks earlier in the morning or later in the evening when the temperature is cooler. If you absolutely need to take your dog out even though it’s warm, keep the walk as short as possible, take water with you for your dog as well as you, and keep to the shade.

If you tend to throw a ball for your pup on his walk, bear in mind that all that exercise will tire your dog out much faster in hot weather. Too much active game playing on a warm day is often a pre-cursor of heatstroke in dogs.

CHECK THE HEAT OF THE PAVEMENT / SIDEWALK

Is the pavement or tarmac too hot for your dog to walk on?

We don’t realise just how hot the ground is because we don’t generally walk around barefoot. But under the heat of the sun, pavement and road surfaces heat up massively.

yellow line on a road with sunglasses. Image by Ryan McGuire

To test whether it’s too hot for your dog’s paws, put your hand on the ground for seven seconds. If it’s too hot for your hand, it will burn your dog’s paws.

PROTECT YOUR DOG FROM SUNBURN

We put sun protection on ourselves when we go out in the sun, but what about our furry family members? Many people don’t realise that dogs can get sunburned too.

The exposed parts of a dog’s skin – such as their noses and the tips of their ears – are susceptible to being burned. White-coloured dogs and breeds with fine or very little hair will also suffer more in direct sunlight. Try using a sun cream specifically for pets to protect your pooch.

DOGGY SUNSTICK

  • SPF 15
  • rub on for instant protection
  • non-greasy formula

Make sure that if your pup is outside with you he always has somewhere with shade to lie down. Alternatively, just keep him inside.

NEVER LEAVE YOUR DOG IN A CAR ON A WARM DAY

It’s frightening to think that in less than 20 minutes, a dog left in a car could die of heat exhaustion.

Tragically, dogs die every year when left in hot cars. Leaving the window slightly open IS NOT a solution. Heatstroke in dogs occurs even with windows left open.

This chart shows just how fast your car heats up in just 10 minutes.

Download this poster and display it to help remind other dog owners of the dangers of leaving dogs in hot cars (direct download, no subscription necessary).

poster detailing how fast cars heat up and the danger of leaving dogs in cars

This horrifying video ‘Dogs Die In Hot Cars’ by Dog’s Trust shows just how dangerous it is to leave a poor pup in a car.

Dogs Die In Hot Cars | Dogs Trust

Tap twice to load then open Video...
See how dangerous it is for a dog left in a hot car

If you see a dog in distress and unattended in a parked vehicle, you should immediately call the police.

HOW TO KEEP DOG COOL INSIDE THE HOUSE

Does your home get too hot for your pup?

If so, give your dog a cooling mat and make sure there is always fresh clean water available to drink. If possible, try to give access to a cool airflow where they can choose to lie down if they wish – not all dogs like to lie in a draft though. If you have air conditioning or a fan, these are obviously ideal to cool down the house for everyone.

HOW TO KEEP DOG COOL AT NIGHT

In our home, the temperatures are fine during the day, but they’re really stuffy at night, especially upstairs. My dog is often too warm to be on the bed and prefers to lie on the floor and use her cooling mat. She has the option of going downstairs where it’s cooler too if she wishes.

When we lived abroad, where it was much warmer, the dogs used to lie on a cool ceramic floor, under a ceiling fan. On very hot nights, we used the A/C.

Cool, fresh water is always available.

DOG COOLING MAT

  • fits in crates
  • easy to wipe clean
  • helps keep your pet cool

LIGHTWEIGHT DOG COOLING VEST

  • easy to put on your dog
  • machine washable
  • lightweight
  • keeps your dog cool for hours

HOW TO KEEP DOG COOL IN CRATE AT NIGHT

The difficulty with crates is that your dog can’t simply mooch off to a cooler part of the house.

Where is the crate kept? Can you move it to the coolest part of the house in the warmer months? If not, can you make sure that a fan or open window provides a cool draft?

Get a cooling pad to put in the crate and make sure there is plenty of fresh water. Pop some ice cubes in the bowl too!

HOW TO KEEP AN OLD DOG COOL IN HOT WEATHER

We really have to take extra care of our older dogs. It’s harder for them to get up and move if they feel too hot where they are. This is especially the case when we’re outside – make sure your senior pup isn’t baking in the direct sunlight because he has difficulty getting up.

With older dogs, we need to do all the things we’d do for any other dog, but be much more aware of how they are coping with the heat.

CONCLUSION

Heatstroke in dogs is a serious issue that we need to be aware of, but by putting these simple tips in place and monitoring your beloved fur kid, you should be able to enjoy the warm weather together this summer.

For tips specific to older dogs, see this article.

Your car is a deathtrap to your dog in hot weather
Dogs die very quickly in hot cars. Winding the window down a bit is not enough to keep your dog safe
Lickimat recipe book

I am not a veterinarian: this information is not intended to replace medical advice, but rather, to help you make informed decisions to improve your dog’s health and wellbeing. Please, always seek your vet’s opinion, especially in the case of your dog being ill. 

Photo of a dog panting with text reading 'How to protect my dog in the heat this summer'

References

Healthy Pets
Dog’s Trust

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