Summer Dog Care: Keeping Your Dog Cool and Safe

As much as we love basking in the glorious UK sunshine, just imagine if you had to do it with a fur coat on. Doesn’t sound quite as fun now, does it?

Here at Top Doggy, we’ve certainly noticed our pooches acting a little “crazy” in the hot weather. Sometimes, it’s just too much for dogs to handle and they don’t know how to communicate it to us humans.

dogs by the river in summer

By all means, take your doggy friends out and about with you in warmer weather, but you’ll need to plan ahead and take a few extra measures to keep them cool, calm, and collected.

Get a Groom

We know, we know. Your dog looks so cute with his long, fluffy locks. We totally agree! But one of the quickest ways to get your pup prepped for summer is to book him in for a pre-summer trim. Get that shaggy coat lopped off and he’ll be ten times cooler in no time (but maybe a bit less cute, sob).

A well-groomed dog is a comfortable dog. Trimming your dog’s fur not only helps in reducing the risk of overheating but also makes it easier to spot any early signs of dog overheating, such as excessive panting, drooling, or lethargy.

Keep Them Hydrated

This goes without saying. But if you’re one of those humans who is bad at keeping yourself hydrated, chances are you’re not great at keeping your doggy hydrated either.

When going out in hot weather, always take a bottle of water for yourself plus one for your pooch. A collapsible drinking bowl is great for popping in your bag, too. My rule is that every time I feel thirsty – and stop for a drink – I make sure I give my doggy one too.

How to keep your dog hydrated in hot weather? Ensure that fresh water is always available. If your dog isn’t great at drinking water, you can still help them hydrate by giving them ice cubes to play with (they’ll crunch them up in no time!) or by making/buying some doggy ice cream. Summer should be enjoyable for the pooches too.

Get Them Wet, Even If They Hate It

This is kind of a cruel-to-be-kind tactic. If you notice your dog starting to overheat, it’s a good idea to dunk them in water or try and pour a little on the back of their neck. This water will sit on their coat nicely and keep them cooler for hours.

If your dog does love water, then it’s worth buying a few water games for your garden. Invest in a paddling pool or two so they can cool themselves off as they please. Also, we love this water fountain that your pup can control by jumping on it to eject refreshing streams of water.

Wetting your dog is one of the best ways to cool down a dog. Not only does it help in lowering their body temperature quickly, but it also keeps them entertained and happy during hot days.

Dog Cooling Vests

No, we hadn’t heard of these until recently either! Dog cooling vests are basically the doggy equivalent to technical human sportswear. So, the vests are created with layers that aid evaporation while helping with the retention of water, i.e., work to prevent your dog from losing too much body moisture and suffering dehydration/heat stroke throughout the day.

These vests are a fantastic investment if you live in an area that frequently experiences hot weather. They provide a continuous cooling effect, helping to maintain your dog’s comfort and preventing signs of overheating in dogs. This article does a great job of explaining how Dog Cooling Vests work, and the science.

Adjust Your Walk Timings

If you normally walk your dog in the middle of the day and you suddenly hit a patch of hot weather, does it make sense to continue walking them in the middle of the day? No!

You need to avoid taking your dog out in the strongest sun rays entirely. Pavements can reach searingly hot temperatures in the middle of the day which will quite literally burn your pup’s little paws if not properly avoided.

Try as best you can to walk your dog early in the morning or late in the evening; this is especially vital for breeds known to suffer breathing difficulties, like Frenchies and Pugs. Please put your dog’s needs first in hotter temperatures, even if it means getting up an extra hour or two early.

Dog-Safe Sunscreen

While adjusting your walk timings, it’s also important to consider using dog-safe sunscreen. Just like humans, dogs can get sunburned, especially in areas with less fur like the nose and ears. Protecting your pet with a suitable sunscreen can prevent painful burns and long-term skin damage. Here are the Top 7 Recommended Dog Sunscreens.

Certain breeds and health conditions make some dogs more vulnerable to heat-related issues than others, so understanding their specific needs is key to keeping them safe and cool, so let’s get a bit more in depth. 

Wet Dog

Recognizing the Signs of Overheating in Dogs

Dogs can’t tell us when they’re too hot, so it’s crucial to be on the lookout for these signs of overheating:

  • Heavy Panting or Breathing Difficulty: If your dog is panting more than usual or seems to be struggling to breathe, they may be too hot.
  • Excessive Drooling: Notice more slobber than usual? This could be a sign of overheating.
  • Red or Pale Gums and Tongue: Check your dog’s mouth. A bright red or very pale tongue and gums can indicate distress.
  • Rapid Heartbeat: Feel their chest for a rapid pulse, which can be a sign of heat stress.
  • Lethargy or Confusion: If your dog is unusually tired or seems disoriented, they may need cooling down right away.
  • Vomiting or Diarrhea: These are serious signs that your dog is not coping well with the heat.
  • Collapse or Seizures: If your dog collapses or has a seizure, seek emergency veterinary care immediately.

How to Cool Down Your Overheated Dog

Here’s a gentle guide to help cool them down safely:

  1. Find a Cool Spot: Move your dog to a shaded or air-conditioned area right away. They need a break from the heat!
  2. Offer Refreshments: Give your pup small sips of cool water. Be sure not to give them too much at once to avoid stomach upset.
  3. Cool Them Down: Gently wet their fur with cool (not ice-cold) water, especially on their paws, belly, and neck. This helps lower their body temperature effectively.
  4. Use a Fan: Place your dog in front of a fan to help with the cooling process. The moving air helps evaporate the water and cool them down faster.
  5. Get Professional Help: If your dog seems very unwell—showing signs like vomiting, extreme tiredness, or collapsing—contact your vet immediately. It’s better to be safe and ensure they get the care they need.

Does Wetting a Dog Cool Them Off?

Yes, wetting a dog helps cool them off effectively. When you wet your dog’s fur, the water evaporates and removes heat from their body, similar to how sweating cools humans. This process is particularly beneficial for dogs, as they have a limited ability to sweat and primarily cool down through panting and their paw pads. 

Use cool water (not cold) to prevent causing shock to your dog’s system, and avoid using ice water, which can constrict blood vessels and hinder the cooling process. Focus on wetting areas with less fur and better blood circulation, such as the belly, paws, and back of the neck. This method is especially effective in providing immediate relief during hot weather or after intense physical activity.

Is It Okay to Spray Your Dog With Water When It’s Hot?

Absolutely! Spraying your dog with cool water is a great way to help them cool off quickly and efficiently. Using a spray bottle, you can lightly mist your dog’s fur, which is particularly helpful for dogs that may not enjoy being fully submerged in water. This method allows for gradual cooling and can be easily done during a walk or outdoor playtime. 

Make sure to use a gentle mist setting to avoid startling your dog and always avoid spraying their face directly to prevent discomfort or water getting into their eyes, nose, or ears. For added comfort, you can also carry a portable spray bottle when you’re out and about to provide quick and refreshing relief from the heat.

At What Temperature Is It Too Hot for Dogs?

Temperatures above 25°C (77°F) can start to become uncomfortable for dogs, especially if they are active. When the temperature exceeds 32°C (90°F), it becomes potentially dangerous, and you should avoid taking your dog outside for extended periods. Always consider the specific needs of your dog’s breed and health condition, as some breeds are more prone to heat-related issues than others.

Can I Put a Wet Towel on My Dog to Cool Him Down?

Yes, placing a wet towel on your dog can help cool them down. A wet towel acts as a cooling agent, particularly when placed on the back of the neck, chest, or belly. The evaporation process helps to lower their body temperature. For even better results, you can place the wet towel in the fridge for a few minutes before using it.

Dogs playing in grass

Additional Tips for Keeping Your Dog Cool

Monitor Your Dog’s Behavior: It’s crucial to watch for changes in your dog’s behavior during hot weather. Increased panting, lethargy, or disinterest in usual activities can be early signs of heat stress. If your dog is seeking shade more often or refusing to eat, these are indicators that they might be overheating.

Regularly check their body temperature by feeling their ears, nose, or belly, and provide water breaks and cool-down periods as needed. If your dog appears distressed or shows signs of severe overheating like vomiting or confusion, act immediately to cool them down and seek veterinary help if necessary.

Choose the Right Gear: Selecting appropriate gear can make a significant difference in keeping your dog cool. Cooling vests and mats work by absorbing and dissipating heat from your dog’s body, making them ideal for both indoor and outdoor use. 

For walks, choose breathable harnesses that minimize coverage and allow better air circulation. Dog-safe sunscreen is also essential for dogs with light-colored or thin fur, as they are more prone to sunburn. Applying sunscreen to their nose, ears, and other exposed areas helps protect against harmful UV rays.

Plan Indoor Activities: On extremely hot days, it’s safer to keep your dog entertained indoors to avoid heat exhaustion. Engage them with interactive toys that challenge their minds, such as puzzle feeders or treat-dispensing toys, which provide mental stimulation and prevent boredom. 

Training sessions can also be a great way to keep them active and mentally engaged without the risk of overheating. If your dog enjoys socializing, consider arranging indoor playdates with other dogs in a cool environment.

Regular Vet Check-Ups: Regular veterinary check-ups are vital, especially if you live in a hot climate or have a dog breed that is particularly sensitive to heat. Your vet can provide specific advice on managing your dog’s health during the warmer months and can help identify any underlying conditions, such as heart or respiratory issues, that might make them more susceptible to heat-related problems. Routine health checks ensure that your dog remains in optimal condition to handle temperature variations.

Know Your Dog’s Limits: Understanding your dog’s unique tolerance to heat is key to ensuring their well-being. Factors such as breed, age, weight, health status, and acclimation to the climate all play a role in how your dog handles high temperatures. 

For instance, brachycephalic breeds (those with short noses like Bulldogs or Pugs) are more prone to heat stress due to their restricted airway structure. Older dogs, puppies, and dogs with medical conditions also require extra care. Be observant of your dog’s behavior and be ready to modify outdoor activities or provide cooling measures to keep them comfortable and safe.

Here are some bonus tips

– Provide Plenty of Water: Always have fresh water available. Hydration is crucial for regulating body temperature.

– Create Shade: Ensure your dog has access to shaded areas when outside.

– Use Cooling Products: Invest in cooling mats or vests that help dissipate heat from your dog’s body.

– Offer Cool Treats: Frozen treats or ice cubes can be both a cooling snack and a fun activity.

If you found this helpful, you can check out another post from us. HARNESSES VS COLLARS

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