Keeping your dog cool in the summer is crucial for his health and safety. The heat affects animals in different ways. Some lean breeds have little problems with the extra warmth if allowed to get out of the sun. However, elderly and very young animals have a harder time regulating their body temperatures. A young puppy’s world is a toy, and they get up in the morning thinking of playing. Puppies under one year can get so excited with attention that you need to force them to “cool off” between play times.
What Dog Breeds Don’t Do Well in Heat?
Some dog breeds require extra caution in the summer months. Examples are the “pushed-in” nose dogs (Brachycephalic), such as Pugs, or breeds that can’t pant effectively in the heat. Overweight dogs and dogs with extra skin, like Shar Pies, also require additional vigilance in hot weather.
How to Prevent a Dog From Overheating
Beating the heat is not easy for your pet. Unlike humans, dogs do not sweat. They get rid of the heat through their mouth and lips by basically “sweating through their mouth” when they pant. They also release heat through their pads, so taking them to the county fair or outside market when temperatures are on the rise is asking for issues. Here are a few tips to help avoid overheating in your dog.
- Cool grass will remove heat from a dog, but concrete or gravel will add to the issue.
- Avoid walking your dog on hot asphalt. A sunny day can lead to asphalt and tar causing burns on your dog’s feet.
- When temps are high, leave your pet at home where they can get out of the sun!
- Avoid taking your dog on car rides when the weather is warm and sunny. Even a few minutes in the car can be deadly. If in doubt, leave your dog home. For extra safety, leave a large card with your cell phone number on the driver’s window so a good Samaritan can call you rather than smashing your window.
- Feed animals in the evening when temperatures drop. If they are twice-a-day feeders, feed ¼ of the diet in the a.m. and ¾ of the diet in the p.m. Low fat/protein diets are not only good for the waste, but they also create less heat in digestion than high fat, high protein diets do.
- Make popsicles to control the heat. Use electrolytes such as Breeder’s Edge Puppy Lyte in one gallon of water and add 1 tsp. of beef/chicken bouillon. Freeze in ice cube trays and give to your pets as treats. Feed them outside if your pet is not used to ice cubes, or they will make a mess trying to figure out the “eating technique” the first time. Dogs get rid of heat through their mouths so this works great. Freeze large dog popsicles in Dixie cups. Cheap and effective cooling!
- For outside dogs, heat is difficult to deal with. Mix electrolytes in one gallon of the water. When the temperatures approach high 90’s, use in place of drinking water.
- For a change of pace for puppies and kittens, freeze Breeder’s Edge Foster Care™ Milk Replacer in a Dixie cup for a cooling, plus nutritious treat.
How to Cool Down a Dog
Be sure the pet can get out of the sun – this is #1.
- If you don’t have shade, create it! Using sun screening over the kennel is easy. Use the same stuff used by greenhouses or livestock and fasten with “zip ties” to the top of the kennel. You can use chain-link top rails for support if needed, but most will not need it. Temperatures can be five to seven degrees F cooler under the shade.
- Water misters are great help as they lower the temperature of the kennel 10 degrees F without creating mud! Turn on in the heat of the day for several hours or use a timer on your faucet that runs the mister 15 minutes each hour. Keep hoses high on the outside of the fencing and under the shade netting, attach with zip ties for easy removal – instant relief!
- A wading pool or water sprinkler is a great and fun way for your dog to cool off in warm weather. Keep the water fresh by frequent changes.
- We all use cool fresh water and electrolytes, but ice chunks will cool the core body temp when your pet replaces panting fluid loss. One cup-sized chunk will last through the heat of the day in a stainless water bucket.
You will read “don’t jog with your pet in summer,” but that is not correct! Our advice is if you are having issues staying comfortable while exercising, both of you should stay home. If you do jog with your dog in the summer, here are some options to protect your dog from the heat when jogging with your dog.
- Canine backpacks – These are light, nylon, and hold two water bottles half frozen, carried in the pockets.
- They are simple saddles with balanced pockets on either side. Often used in young dogs to carry water in summer and bricks the rest of the year. They wear the dog out in half the miles and give the teenager something to concentrate on when training, “putting them to work.”
- Use lightweight, neck-relaxing leashes that don’t inhibit breathing. Mendota is a lightweight leash that will relax when the dog is soft on the leash, allowing easier breathing or panting. If more control is needed, a simple pull on the leash tightens the collar. The Mendota leash is designed by a dog owner who did not like choking his dog and could not find what he wanted, so he made his own. Mendota is the last leash you will ever buy; it works that well!
- Collapsible bowls are a must if you take your dog with you. Community water has more bugs than you want to expose your pet to, so it’s important to use his own bowl. It also fits in the backpack.
- Take a small amount of cool water and pour it over the backpack to aid cooling.
- Dogs CAN get sunburn, especially on the white or unpigmented parts of their skin. Avoid too much sun exposure and use a pet sunscreen for safety.
Hot weather is hard on everyone. Help your dog tolerate the heat, and you can both enjoy the warm weather.
If you need more help with how to keep dogs cool in the heat, call us at 800.786.4751.
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Written by: Marty Greer, DVM
Director of Veterinary Services
Marty Greer, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, has 40+ years’ experience in veterinary medicine, with special interests in canine reproduction and pediatrics. She received her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from Iowa State University in 1981. She’s served as Revival’s Director of Veterinary Services since 2019. In 2023, Dr. Greer was named the Westminster Kennel Club Veterinarian of the Year.