Dogs need some extra help to be kept cool in summer, and you as the owner need to be the one giving this to them. But don’t sweat, those nifty tech-heads and inventors out there have done it again with gadgets to make this easy.
If you want to get some perspective on how your dog feels in summer, tape up all of your sweat holes, dress head to toe in fur and then with bare feet go running around on hot bitumen. Not very pleasant is it?
(By the way, if you do actually do this, can you send us in a video, because that would be a laugh!)
Because dogs can’t tell you if they are hot, and your own specific temperature is not an indication of what they are feeling, you need to be more attentive and a bit more prepared to help them cool down if needed. With dogs and heat, it is better to err on the side of caution.
How hot is your dog anyway?
Dogs have a higher resting body temperature than people to start with, and then they have less capacity to cool down through orifices like sweat glands. They retain and dispel heat differently to humans.
Known as homeotherms, dogs have a fairly constant body temperature of around 38 degrees. They need mostly external help to stop internal heat gain and increase heat loss.
Their only internal mechanism for dispelling body heat is panting, so everything else is up to the tools and opportunities that you give them to stay cool.
The main ways they get cool are by lying on cool surfaces, splashing in cool water or feeling a fan on them.
Be careful with wetting your dog however because if they stay wet their fur can then become very hot and wet, which retains more heat and can be worse for them. If you are wetting your dog it is better to let him get wet, which will draw the heat from his body, then dry him to take the hot water away rather than leaving it on his fur.
Their coat which keeps them warm in winter keeps them cool in summer as well, to a certain extent. In summer they lose their thick winter undercoat, but their outer coat works to stop heat getting in, so they need this. When it retains too much heat, however, then they can get overheated rapidly.
Some breeds feel the heat more than others, such as snub-nosed pups like pugs and bulldogs, or those with coats built for winter such as huskies. You need to show extra care with these little guys.
If it’s a hot day or you have been exercising and your dog seems to be panting much more than usual, or is sluggish or seems confused, then he could be overheating. Contact your vet straight away to get advice on what to do if this happens. Better advice is for you as the responsible one, to not let him get that hot in the first place.
Some tips to keep your dog cool in summer
NEVER leave him in the car. Even for a few minutes, even if it isn’t that hot outside, even if you have left the windows down a crack. It is always hotter in the car than you anticipate, and your dog will feel it more than you, so just don’t.
If you are leaving him at home alone on hot days, then take steps to keep the house cool. Close drapes against the sun and leave the air conditioning on. Make sure he has water to drink.
If you are leaving him outside, make sure he has plenty of shade and water to drink as well. A doghouse on its own is not enough shade as it traps the heat, make sure he has a tree or porch and that air can flow around him.
Keep summer exercise to a minimum, or make sure you do it in the coolest parts of the day. Remember that your dog feels hotter than you, so don’t push him to your limits. Additionally, dogs don’t recognise when to stop exercising like humans do, they will just keep going. So, you need to be the one to call time when it’s enough.
If walking outside check cement and bitumen temperature with your palm; if it is too hot for you, then it is too hot for his paws.
Make him some iced treats such as giant ice blocks or frozen chew toys. You could make dog popsicles with treats frozen inside that he needs to get to; minutes of summer fun!
Don’t give him ice cream because dogs have low lactose tolerance, but instead make water popsicles filled with peas and chopped cooked meat, or freeze mashed banana, honey, and peanut butter. For some products to help with this check out our list below.
Your dog may need sunscreen the same as you, especially breeds with short hair. For all dogs you should consider sunscreen particularly on places like his nose and ears and belly, but don’t use people sunscreen. This contains ingredients that may be toxic for your pup if he licks it off. Invest in a dog sunscreen like this one from Petkin.
With some dogs trimming their hair helps to cool them down, but with some breeds, this actually has the opposite effect. While you definitely need to keep his fur clean, brushed and matt free, keeping it long may also be keeping him cool. Check with your vet to make sure he needs a haircut before you give him one.
A list of awesome products to help keep your dog cool in summer
These products are quite ingenious really, and because they cool themselves, you have no excuse not to get one for your dog if you live in a warm climate. With cooling gel inside, they stay around 5-10 degrees cooler than the room and will reduce your dog’s temperature for up to an hour. Usually, they activate with weight or pressure.
They can be wiped clean, come in different sizes, and can be popped in your dog’s bed or anywhere he likes to lie. These are also great for travelling and can be used in the car.
As we said above, don’t leave your dog unsupervised outside to get wet, as he can quickly overheat if he stays wet. However, under supervision, your puppy will have a sensational time playing in his own pool. These easily fold up and down, with no inflation needed, and are tough and durable for rough dog play. They can also be used as a dog bath.
Choose a size that is suitable for your breed.
This is a handy gadget. It attaches to your garden hose and allows your dog to push a button and get a little spray and drink of water whenever he needs.
Like a winter jacket, but with magic cooling properties that are activated by water, check out these cute cool coats! In various sizes and colours, make sure that you buy the right size for your puppy. They make your dog cool, but do not wet the fur which is fantastic.
Cooling Collars and Bandanas
You can also get a number of cooling collars or bandanas which work on the same premises. Some are water activated, while some need to be frozen.
There are a variety of clever cooling treats and toys on the market that your dog will love. These have the double benefit of cooling him down and keeping him entertained at the same time. Fill with water and freeze, then give to your dog to chew.