It is no shock that you as a pet owner are wondering how to take care of dogs in the summer. Every animal’s temperature needs to be regulated within a certain range to ensure proper body function. Extremely hot or cold weathers are risky even for animals adapted to them. Not too surprisingly, many animals have died heat-related deaths.
Summer for dogs can be a challenging time because they cannot properly communicate to express heat stress. The summer is also hard on you, the pet owner, as you struggle not only with heat but with trying to ensure your dog doesn’t die from heat stroke. We’ve come up with a helpful guide to ensure your dog is well taken care of during the summer months.
When is it Too Hot For Dogs?
Like their owners, dogs tend to get hot in the summer months (hot weather) and after exercise. It is essential to note that excessive heat is not healthy for your dog. Therefore you are not advised to make your dog undergo unnecessary heat-generating activities when the temperature is hot. Below is a temperature guide to help you discern when it is too hot for your dog.
|Month||Average temperature (°C)||Average temperature (°F)|
In the United States, August is typically the hottest month with an average weather temperature of 26.6°. The average value will increase and decrease within this range, but it may spike up due to changes in atmospheric pressure. Based on the data above, around august, take care to ensure your dog doesn’t suffer a heat stroke.
From June till September, depending on the atmospheric pressure, it is crucial to take care when walking your dog. However, it is preferable for your dog to remain indoors where you can regulate the temperature to suit its needs.
Irrespective of the temperature, the amount of heat any dog can withstand depends on these factors.
- Amount of physical activity.
- A dog’s breed.
- Where the dog is (indoors or outdoors).
- Age, weight, and size.
Does my Dog's Breed Affect His Ability to Withstand Heat?
Your dog’s ability to withstand heat depends on its ability to cool. A dog’s ability to cool-off depends on its size, it’s coat, and it’s body structure. Every breed of dog has a different shape, size, and amount of fur; therefore, its breed will affect its ability to cool.
Breed-Dependent Factors that Affect a Dogs Ability to Withstand Heat
Every species of animal has different adaptations for different weather conditions. A dog breed that is better adapted to handle cold weather will struggle to deal with heat. A variant that is more adapted to hot weather will struggle with the cold. Here are some physical factors that affect your dog’s ability to withstand heat.
Shape of the Dog's Head
There are three different dog shaped heads. A dolichocephalic or mesocephalic dog will withstand heat better than a brachycephalic dog. Dolichocephalic dogs have heads with marked higher length than width, so they can pant easily and cool properly. They are best suited for running because dolichocephalic dogs pant with ease.
Mesocephalic dogs have heads with equal height width proportions, so they also cool-off easily. On the other hand, a brachycephalic dog has a broader and shorter face, and they struggle to pant. These dogs also have trouble breathing because their nose is usually flattened close to their face and tend to snore loudly.
Size of the Dog
A taller dog is farther from the heat radiated off the ground. On the other hand, a shorter dog is closer to the heat radiated from the ground. So a shorter dog will struggle with the effects of heat more.
Fur Coat of the Dog
A dog’s coat is an insulator that keeps it cool and warm based on the need. In the summer, a dog can stay cool with its fur, but exerting physical activity can change the effect quickly, making the dog retain heat instead. Dogs with thicker fur coats will suffer more from the heat-retaining effect after exercise than dogs with less fur. Black fur is an insulator and makes your dog hotter.
You should not shave your dog’s fur off in the summer to help it cool, and you can trim it, however. Because the coat helps regulate temperature. Instead, reduce exercise so that the fur effect does not switch, and the dog does not heat up quickly.
Breeds that are Good at Withstanding Heat
These breeds because of their physical features and other factors can withstand heat better.
- Golden Retriever
- German Shorthaired Pointer
- Labrador Retriever
- American Water Spaniel
- Great Dane
- American Foxhound
- Border Collie
- Airedale Terrier
- Australian Cattle Dog
- Chesapeake Bay Retriever
Breeds that Find it Hard to Withstand Heat
These dogs struggle to withstand heat due to their physical makeup. Obese and old dogs find it hard to cope with heat irrespective of their breed.
- Bulldogs (English, French, and American Bulldogs)
- Boston Terriers
- Shih Tzus
- Siberian Huskies
- Alaskan Malamutes
- Chow Chows
Signs of Heat Stroke in Dogs
Heat stroke is a condition caused by overheating of the body due to prolonged physical exertion at high temperatures characterized by fever or unconsiousness. Temperatures above 40°c cause the most extreme forms of heat injury.
A dog always enjoys playing at any time, so it’s very likely the dog is getting too hot but continues playing and cannot express itself. You need to observe your dog for these signs and prevent it from suffering a heat stroke.
Panting is a dog’s natural method of cooling off to regulate its body temperature. It is as typical for a dog to do this more after physical activity as it is for you to sweat. However, when your dog starts panting too much, it is a sign that it is not cooling off properly.
At this point, to help your dog, check its temperature to confirm if it is a heat stroke. Treat a temperature of 104°F and above as a heat stroke but also confirm by checking other signs.
Restlessness is a standard sign of anxiety and discomfort. The inability to breathe well is a side-effect of heat stroke. Not breathing well makes anyone, your dog, not excluded uncomfortable. If your dog is panting and restless, begin to take anti-heat stroke precautions.
Bright Red Tongue
A red tongue in a dog indicates a bunch of problems, but our focus is dehydration. A dehydrated dog has a red tongue. Hydration reduces the possibilities of a heat stroke occurring. Water helps a dog cool properly, so signs of lack of water (dehydration) is a telltale sign of heat stroke.
Other Signs of a Heat stroke
- Drooling and salivating from panting
- They have pale gums or blue gums due to improper oxygenation
- Increased heart rate because of low oxygen rates
- Vomiting and diarrhea sometimes with blood causing loss of more electrolytes
- Dizziness, confusion, staggering, lethargy, muscle tremor, and weakness. These will happen because of the need for oxygen to keep the body running is not met
- The final stages will include seizures, collapse, little to no urine production, and coma because of multiple organ failure from lack of oxygen and increased temperature
How to Treat Heat Strokes in Dogs
Heat stroke progresses quickly and can become deadly in minutes. So, it is crucial to start helping your dog cool-off as soon as you observe heat stroke signs. Any delay could begin the cycle of irreversible multi-organ failure.
A dog’s body is composed of about 80% of water, so the effects of heat stroke would be deadlier in your dog. Because heat stroke kills very fast, you should carry out first aid quickly to save your dog. Here are some helpful tips for treating heat stroke.
Move the Dog Away From the Heat
Moving the dog away from heat should take top priority as it will help your dog cool down much better. First of all, find shade, use a dog fan, or turn on the air-conditioner if you are indoors. A cooler surrounding temperature will start lowering its body temperature as it pants. Do routine temperature checks to ensure there is temperature change.
Moving the dog away from the heat source is helpful if it was in a hotter environment like a car or cage. If the dog is playing in the sun, take it out of the sun. Ensure that you change the environment to reduce the effect of atmospheric heat. A change in the environment also helps the dog pant-in cool air to cool off properly.
Bathe the Dog With a Water Hose
After finding a shade, you need to start thinking of ways to help your dog cool down faster. The best way to achieve this is to douse it with water. Water helps speed up the evaporation process that helps cool your dog down faster.
Note that while you bathe your dog with water from the hose, it should not be too cold. Using cold water can shock your dog. Douse your dog until its cool, but ensure it does not get too cold and start shivering. However, if you are not close to a source of flowing water, try to improvise. If a water bath is not feasible, try using cooling towels and pads.
Use Rubbing Alcohol on Your Dog's Paw Pads
Rubbing alcohol has a lower boiling point than water, so it evaporates quickly. Using rubbing alcohol on your dog’s paw helps it cool faster because it has some sweat glands on its paws.
To use, soak cotton swap in isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol) and rub it on your dog’s paws. Just because rubbing alcohol helps your dog cool faster doesn’t mean you should pour it on the dog. Using isopropyl alcohol elsewhere may be toxic to an open wound. Therefore you should only use it on its paws.
Provide Cool Drinking Water to Your Dog
Water drinking water, like dousing with it, is very helpful in cooling. Drinking fresh water is helpful with cooling internally and rehydration. You can also offer your dog ice cubes to lick (although it is not the best action). Since the ice cubes melt off while it is licking it, there are fewer chances of shock.
Another useful tip is to give your dog an electrolyte drink to help rehydrate better and replace lost electrolytes. Note that you should consult with your vet to pick the right electrolytes for your dog.
Call a Veterinarian
While you stabilize the temperature of your pet, call your vet for extra help. Your vet will be able to prescribe proper electrolytes that suit your dog to replenish lost electrolytes. A veterinarian is trained well in animal care, so a call to your dog’s regular vet will make helping your dog easier.
After your dog has properly cooled down and has taken an electrolyte drink, he needs to visit the vet. Heat stroke comes with serious complications that can escalate in less than 20 minutes for animals. Because of this, you should take your dog to see the vet and confirm that the heat stroke did not cause any internal organ damage.
All these tips have helped you during a hot day, except obviously calling a veterinarian. Consequently, you can use other tricks that help you as long as your vet confirms it’s okay.
Always ensure to take a heat stroke case seriously and treat it like you would treat a drowning person or someone that could bleed to death. Any pet having a heat stroke is to be treated as an emergency until the temperature cools. Nonetheless, you still need to get professional help after cooling because these are all first aid treatments. Check here for more on heat stroke.
How to Keep Your Dog Cool in the Summer
Although heat stroke and its first aid were talked about, its best to avoid it entirely, to prevent heat stroke, you need to keep your dog cool even in the hot summer weather. As promised, this is a summer care guide. Therefore, here are helpful tips for keeping dogs cool in the summer.
Don't Leave Your Dog in the Car
Summer or not, a dog should never be left alone in the car. The temperature in a parked vehicle gets hot quickly irrespective of the air around. Your argument may be packing under a shade or leaving the glass down. Honestly, this does not make much difference.
Besides, when you leave the window down, a dog may see something fun and decide to follow it and jump out of the car. No matter how quick you plan to be, something may delay you. It is advisable to either leave your dog at home or take it with you.
The dangers of leaving a dog in the car are so severe that in some states, it is illegal, and in other states, the law cover people who rescue the pets. If you see an animal in any car alone, call the attention of security to find the owner to save it. When you must carry your pet out, have a mature adult that stays with it in the car with the AC working.
Keep Your Dog in an Air-Conditioned Room
Panting helps dogs cool, but when the surrounding air is hot, their insides become hotter. An air-conditioned room is cool, so the dog is taking in cool air and getting cooler in the process. However, you should be careful and ensure the temperature is properly regulated to avoid chills.
Apart from air-conditioning, you can take precautions to keep the heat out. You can use window blinds or curtains, and a good old window tint sticker will do. They will reduce the amount of sunlight that reflects in your house.
Don't Let Your Dog Walk on Hot Pavement
Asphalt, sand, tar, gravel, and interlocking blocks get hot quickly. These are the regular materials used to make pavements. Allowing your dog to walk on anything hot will injure its paws. You can use paw protection for dogs in summer months to reduce the chances of injury. Before allowing your dog to walk on any pavement, test the temperature with your hand.
Exercising in hot weather makes your dog a candidate for heat stroke. During summer, pick shaded spots for exercise at cool times of the day. But whatever precautions you take, the best one is just to limit the amount of time spent exercising.
A tip for exercising in the summer is playing in a place where your dog can run in water. That way, your dog is exercising and cooling off, killing two birds with one stone.
Allow Your Dog Free Access to Drinking Water
Drinking fresh water is refreshing for your dog. Dogs should not be allowed to drink salt water because it is worse than not drinking water. Salt water leads to excessive dehydration. Keep a steady source of water for your dog to continue to hydrate. A dog gets thirsty easily and worse in hot weather, so always keep a source of drinking water near.
How to Cool Down a Dog at Night
The risk of getting too hot doesn’t end with the day, so you need to make plans to keep your dog cooler at night. Although it is cooler at night, some summer nights may get too hot for your dog.
You are not likely to keep a 24 hours watch on your dog, so you need to set up measures to make it sleep well. With the possibility that your dog sleeps in a particular room, here’s how to help your dog stay cool at night.
Preparing in the Morning
Start taking precautions to prepare your dog to sleep better in the day time. You can keep the room out of sunlight by closing the blinds. Reducing daytime and towards evening physical activities helps.
You can develop night-time routines that keep everyone relaxed. Maintain their grooming schedule to keep them fresh. A lot of the precautions you take to keep your dog cool in the day can also apply at night.
Ventilation in the Room
Ensure wherever your dog sleeps is adequately aerated. Dogs tend to move around more at night, and if it is very hot, some might seek cooler floors. Turn on the air conditioner and make the room comfortable. Mop the tiles as freshly cleaned tiles are cooler. A combination of newly cleaned tiles and air conditioning goes a long way to keep your dog cooler at night.
If you don’t have an air conditioner, a fan will do. Using a fan is quite tricky because the noise can startle your pet, and there is a tendency he will knock it over.
A ceiling fan is far away from your dog’s reach, reducing the risk of falling. Try to acclimatize your dog to the use of a fan so that it gets comfortable with it. Just ensure to ventilate your dog’s room well or make sure it is in the coolest parts of the house.
Invest in a Cooling Mat
If you do not have a tile, you can improvise with a damp towel to keep your dog cool. A cooling mat or bed is one of the best investments you should make to keep your dog cool and safe. Cooling mats and beds provide a soft, comfy, cushion that is cooler than a tile. They work in different mechanics to adequately keep your dog cool. Here is a helpful guide on buying the right cooling mat or bed.
Provide Access to Cool Drinking Water
Drinking cool water goes a long way to cool your dog from the inside. Water also helps to ensure your dog is better hydrated and not losing electrolytes. It is advised for humans to drink water before and after waking up from sleep because of dehydration while sleeping, even when our body is 50% water.
A dog needs more water because its body content is 80% water. Always keep a water source very close to your dog so he/she can have access to it to rehydrate, also keep the water topped up.
Other Ways to Help Your Dog Sleep Better
- Give icy treats to your dog before bed to cool down its core body temperature
- You can let your dog swim in a kiddie pool for a while to reduce its body temperature before bed
- Let it sleep in a spacious place. it is advisable it sleeps in the living room or a spacious, well-ventilated room
Should I Walk My Dog During a Heat Wave?
- When the temperature is 12-15°c, it is safe for your dog to be out and take a nice walk
- At 16-19°c, you can exercise your dog at any time of the day but need to keep a close eye on large dogs, obese dogs, and breeds that don’t withstand heat well
- Between 20-23°c, rigorous exercise can put your dog at risk for a heat stroke
- A temperature between 24-27°c, requires you to take extreme caution for high-risk dogs
- Any temperature 28°c and above is dangerous for all dogs, and it is specifically life-threatening for high-risk dogs
A heatwave is a period of consecutive hot weather up to or above 32.2°c, usually for three days, usually due to high atmospheric pressure. The weather is hot enough without worrying about exercise, and you should not walk your dog during a heatwave. However, if the temperature is lower in the morning and evening, you can take a walk on a shaded path for a short time.
Note that a heatwave is a short amount of time, and your dog can do without taking walks during that period. For the pain heat stroke causes a dog, a heatwave walk is not worth it.
How do You Take Care of a Dog in Summer?
There are a lot of ways to take care of your dog in summer, so we will make a list of all the ways that come to mind.
Avoid Recently Pesticide Treated Areas
Insecticides, pesticides, herbicides, and other chemicals used to treat grass can be toxic for your dogs. Being in areas that have been treated puts your dog in harm’s way. These chemicals can quickly become toxic and lead to seizures. Seizures will increase your dog’s body temperature very fast.
Other Ways to Help Your Dog in the Summer
- Ensure that your dog has access to fresh drinking water and adequate shade
- Consult with your vet and use an appropriate sunscreen for dogs to avoid sunburn
- Have on your dog a collar with your number on it. Use a leash where there is no fence so that your dog does not become distracted and get lost
- Never leave your dog alone in the car because the temperature of a parked vehicle can increase to dangerous levels in minutes
- Keep your dog’s paws cool and avoid truck bed rides and asphalt walks. The heat from hot paws can increase internal body temperature quickly
- You shouldn’t shave dogs fur; it is better to trim. Shaving doesn’t help with cooling
- Have a kiddy pool for your dog to help it cool-off
- Take care to protect your dog from parasites
- Don’t let your dog swim unwatched based on the assumption that it is a good swimmer
- Avoid going out on the fourth of July because fireworks make a dog anxious
- Regulate exercise times to when the weather is cooler and always have a thermometer and plenty of water. Bear in mind that a dog can get heat stroke on a cool day if exerted enough
- Make cool treats for your dog
- Take extra care with high-risk dogs
- Never miss vet appointments.
- Check dog protective products
When it comes to helping your dog, always remember that it is better to err on being overcautious than to be careless.
Dogs in Summer – FAQs
When the summer months come along, many behavioral changes dog’s display leaves you questioning them. There is also the big worry of how to help your dog survive through the hot months. Here, we have shared our thoughts on some frequently asked questions to help guide you in your summer care.
Are Dogs Lazier During The Summer?
Dogs are not lazier in summer; they just get tired quickly. They get dehydrated easily and struggle with doing their daily activities. If your dog seems more sluggish, it may be a sign of heat stroke. To help your dogs better, you can douse them in water before an exercise.
What happens to Dogs in Summer?
In the summer, because dogs do not sweat, they are at a high risk of becoming hyperthermic (heat stroke). Dog’s body temperature can quickly rise in a matter of minutes, so when this happens, irreversible organ damage can occur. Treat your dog with extra care and be observant during the summer months.
How Can I Help My Dog in Hot Weather?
In hot weather, the best help you can give your dog is to prevent heat stroke and to try to it from going into heat shock. Remember, it is better to be sorry you were too cautious than to be sorry you did not care enough. Here are some helpful tips.
- Know the signs of heat stroke and be prepared to help in an emergency
- Always have a thermometer to check your dog’s temperature, incase of subtle signs
- Do not shave off their fur. A dog’s coat helps to keep it cool in hot weather and also helps to warm it up in cold weather. Shaving off the fur makes that function unachievable. Instead, trim the fur
- Exercise or play should be water-based to help the dog cool down
- Reduce their exercise rates because heat stroke can happen on a cooler day when overexerted
- Make sure there is water around your dog ( drinking water and water to dip in)
- Use animal sunscreen when going out
- Try to follow summer aid guidelines and maximize the hot weather for your dog
In Conclusion, because a dog’s body composition is 80% water, dehydration is a tragic event. Since they do not sweat, summer for dogs is a hard time to keep cool. Never assume that just keeping hydrated will completely prevent a heat stroke. Take good care of your dog irrespective of the risk type, and it will come out of the summer months alive and together with you. Remember, with heat and your dog, it is better to be overly-cautious.