Summer is a season of fun for dogs and owners alike. The downside is the heat, and many owners find themselves wondering how to keep dogs cool in the summer. Are paddling pools a safe option for dogs? Can dogs eat frozen treats?
Keeping dogs cool in the summer is vital, not only for their comfort in the hotter months but to prevent heatstroke, too. Many dogs suffer from heatstroke each summer, so don’t let your dog be one of the unlucky pups.
How to Keep an Outside Dog Cool In the Summer
If your dog spends a lot of time outside, summer can come with an increased risk of sunburn and heatstroke. Luckily, there are several things you can do to keep your furry friend cool while they enjoy the outdoors. You can provide plenty of cool water, shady areas to rest, and regular grooming.
Provide Fresh, Cool Water
Hydration is key for keeping your dog cool in the summer. As such, it’s important to provide your pooch with fresh, clean, cool water at all times. Normally, your dog will need to drink at least 1 to 2 millimeters of water per kilogram of body weight per hour. So, a 10kg dog like a West Highland White Terrier should drink about 480ml of water in 24 hours. Variation can occur, however, and your dog may drink more or less depending on if their food is wet or dry, how much they exercise, and how much they pant. During the summer, however, all dogs will drink more than usual. Even in the summer, your dog should not drink more than 100ml per kg of body weight per day. Drinking over this amount suggests polydipsia, a key symptom of problems like kidney disease.
Provide a Shaded Area
When your dog is outside, you must provide a shady area for them to retreat to. This is important because prolonged exposure to direct sunlight and heat can quickly lead to heatstroke in dogs. You can do this by providing your dog with a dog house. If a dog house isn’t for you, consider a dog bed with a canopy instead. Always encourage your dog to stay in the shade when outside, whether it be under an umbrella or under a table.
Regularly Groom Their Fur
Since your dog’s coat is an insulator, it works great for the winter months, but can backfire in summer. Some breeds, like Siberian Huskies and Pomeranians, have thick double coats that shed more as warmer months approach. You may be tempted to completely shave your dog’s coat to keep them cool. However, this is counterproductive. Your dog’s double coat is made up of a soft undercoat and a coarse top coat that work together to regulate their body temperature. Disrupting this balance between the two by shaving can cause more problems with your dog’s temperature regulation, as well as patchy coat regrowth. Instead, give your dog a thorough brush with a de-shedding tool to help them along with the natural process of coat blow.
How to Keep an Inside Dog Cool In The Summer
Even when your dog spends most of their time indoors, there are some risks that come with the summer months. Because of this, you must provide cool places for your dog to rest, keep the air cool, and change when you walk your dog.
Provide a Cool Spot to Lie Down
Make sure that your dog has access to a cool spot to lie down. This might be your kitchen floor if this room is the coolest. You can also provide your dog with a damp towel to lie on. For those without a comfortable place to lie down, a cooling mat often does the trick. Dog cooling mats are made with self-cooling gels that are usually not toxic to dogs.
Use a Fan
A fan won’t cool the air, but it does help to cool your dog down. As a fan moves the air, it encourages more evaporation from the mouth as your dog pants. It also encourages convective cooling at the ears and body surface. For some dogs, a specially-made crate fan does wonders for keeping dogs cool in the summer.
Plan Your Walks
As the summer months approach, you must prepare to change your walk schedule. It’s best to walk your dog in the early morning or late evening to avoid the heat of the day. Even at these times of day, make sure to check the pavement before you set off on your journey. If the ground is too hot for you to hold the back of your hand to it, it is too hot for your dog to walk on.
How to Keep a Puppy Cool In the Summer
Puppies have a harder time regulating their body temperature compared to adult dogs. Therefore, it’s important to provide them with extra help to keep them cool during the summer. You can do this by providing a paddling pool, a sandbox, and frozen treats for your puppy.
Dogs of any age love pool parties, but puppies probably love them the most. Nothing is more relaxing or soothing than a dip in a cool paddling pool on a hot day, and your puppy surely agrees. Some puppies need time to get used to being in a pool, though, so be patient and don’t force them if being in the pool is too distressing.
It’s also important that you monitor your puppy as they play in the pool. If your puppy is a chewer, the edge of the pool may be destroyed whilst you’re away. It’s also important to clean the pool right away if your puppy has an accident in the water! The last thing you want is for your puppy’s pool to become filled with bacteria and parasites. And, lastly, make sure that the pool you choose is not too deep for your puppy. Your puppy must be able to climb out of the pool with ease and the water should not be too deep.
Make a Sandbox
Bring the beach to your backyard with a sandbox for your puppy! You can create a sandbox in a shady corner outside to help keep your puppy cool. The sandbox can be built with wood if you want a custom build. Alternatively, you can fill a shallow tray with sand for a similar effect. Many puppies love having the opportunity to dig, hide toys, and cool themselves off in the sand. You can even wet the sand down a little to add to the cool feeling. Just be sure that your puppy does not start to use the sandbox as a toileting area!
No puppy can resist a tasty treat, so use this to your advantage to keep your dog cool in summer! You can create your own frozen treats by combining water or chicken broth with food of your choice in an ice cube tray. Alternatively, you can fill your puppy’s favorite treat toy with chicken broth and freeze it for guaranteed hours of fun. These treats don’t just keep your puppy cool, but also help with teething pains, too.
Watching Out for Heatstroke
Knowing the causes and signs of heatstroke is essential. As a dutiful owner, you’ve already heard of heatstroke in dogs. But are there any early symptoms you might miss? And do you know how to give emergency first aid in the event that your dog suffers heatstroke?
What is Heatstroke
Heatstroke, also known as sunstroke, is a severe condition that can result in death. This condition is caused by severe hyperthermia and/or physical exertion. Dogs cannot reduce their body temperature as efficiently as humans can, which puts them at greater risk of heatstroke when hot weather draws in. This is especially a risk for brachycephalic, obese, and long-haired dogs.
Heatstroke comes with a broad spectrum of symptoms. The early symptoms include behavioral changes, confusion, irritation, and agitation. Your dog might appear anxious or snap easily as heatstroke sets in. Then, the more obvious signs may appear. These include panting, drooling, bright red or pale gums, a bright red tongue, increased heart rate, muscle tremors, vomiting, and diarrhea. Your dog may appear dizzy, staggering about as confusion increases. This can progress to collapse, seizures, and coma in less than 15 minutes.
Begin emergency first aid right away. You must remove your pet from the hot environment immediately. Then, begin cooling by draping a towel dampened with cool water over your dog. You must not use ice-cold water or ice for this, as decreasing their body temperature too quickly can cause shock. Once you have begun the cooling process you can take your dog to an emergency vet. Dogs who are already in the cooling process before arriving at the vet have a significantly better chance of surviving than those that are not. Those that are not cooled before arrival have a mortality rate of 49%, while those that are cooled have a mortality rate of 19%.
From here, your vet will do everything they can to treat your dog. This might involve putting your pet on a drip, giving supplemental oxygen, and taking blood tests to check their organ function. A blood test can help to reveal the extent of organ damage if there is any. For example, increased creatinine in the blood suggests renal damage, and increased alkaline phosphatase suggests hepatic damage. Antibiotics may be given when bacterial translocation occurs as a result of gastrointestinal damage. Osmotic diuretics like Mannitol may also be given to improve cerebral circulation and to reduce cranial pressure. Overall, your vet will provide ongoing supportive care until your pet is feeling better. Depending on the severity of your dog’s heatstroke, this can take hours or days.
Keep Dogs Cool in the Summer – FAQs
Have any more questions about how to keep dogs cool in the summer? Feel free to refer to our Frequently Asked Questions for more information. If in doubt about your dog’s health during summer, always contact your vet for advice.
Generally speaking, temperatures up to 68F are safe for your dog to walk, play, and exercise in. Temperatures above this should be taken into account before exercising your dog. Temperatures above 89.6F come with a severe heatstroke risk, regardless of your dog’s size, breed, age, or coat.
Fans do help to keep dogs cool! Although a fan won’t cool the air, it does encourage convective cooling. It does this by moving air across the body surface and the ears. It also encourages evaporation from the mouth as your dog pants. So, consider getting a crate fan for your dog this summer to keep them cool!
While the average pet dog won’t cope well with living outside more than inside, many working breeds appear to do well living outdoors. This is true for the Kangal, for example, which was bred live comfortably outdoors for its work. However, regardless of the breed or its work, the owner must regularly attend to their dog if they are to keep the dog responsibly. It is not responsible to leave a dog unattended for long periods of time, as they can suffer from heatstroke and hypothermia that may go unnoticed. Outdoor dogs also need access to fresh, clean water at all times, so the owner must be able to provide this multiple times throughout the day. An outdoor dog must also have shelter and comfortable bedding for protection from harsher weather.
Ice cubes can be given to your dog under close supervision. The larger and harder the ice cube, the greater the risk of tooth damage and choking. You must not give ice cubes to a dog with heatstroke. Cooling a dog with heatstroke too quickly causes shock. Apart from these two risks, ice cubes are a great way to help your pooch to cool off. Many dogs enjoy tucking into frozen treats. Some owners will even fill and freeze their dogs’ treat toys to provide hours of fun.
Several kinds of dog are prone to overheating. These include all brachycephalic breeds, long-hair breeds, senior dogs, young puppies, and dogs with respiratory diseases. All of these dogs struggle more than others to control their body temperature.
There are plenty of ways to keep dogs cool in the summer. This summer, make sure that you treat your dog to some frozen snacks, a cooling mat, and perhaps even a shallow paddling pool to cool them off!