How to keep dogs cool in the summer

How To Keep Dogs Cool In The Summer

The dog days of summer are upon us here in NC, so today I’ll share several tips on how to keep dogs cool in the heat!

But first, let’s take a quick look at how a dog’s internal cooling system works.

Since dogs don’t sweat like humans do, they have a different way of cooling themselves down.

Meaning when dogs get hot, they pant. Panting is when a dog breathes fast with their mouth open. This helps them get rid of extra heat from their body.

When a dog pants, they breathe in cooler air, and this air moves over their wet tongue.

The water on their tongue evaporates, which means it turns from liquid into a kind of mist that goes into the air.

This process takes away some of the heat from their body, making them feel cooler.

Dogs also have some sweat glands in their paws, but they don’t use them as much as humans do.

So, panting is their main way of staying cool when it’s hot outside. It’s like they’re built-in air conditioning!

Unfortunately, it’s nowhere near as effective as our human sweating, so keep reading to learn how to keep dogs cool in summer.

How To Keep Dogs Cool In The Summer Heat

How to keep dogs cool in the summer heat

Disclaimer: This blog post was originally published in 2015 and has been updated in 2023. It contains affiliate links I may earn compensation through at no additional cost to you. 

Water Doggie Playtime

Water may be one of the first elements (literally!) which comes to mind when you’re thinking about how to keep dogs cool in the heat.

The ocean or a pool we can jump in along with our pup is no doubt the ideal scenario for refreshment!

But no worries if you don’t have the luxury of an actual, “real” pool in your backyard.

A kiddie pool works just as well.

Below, you see Buzz (left) and Missy (right) in their kiddie pool! They love to lounge in it.

Missy & Buzz cooling off in their puppy pool

The hard plastic ones are a better choice than the inflatable ones. The latter can easily be damaged by your dogs’ nails ~ no matter how well trimmed they are!

If you only have an inflatable pool, you can make it more durable by lining it with a heavy duty tarp.

Tip: Your dog’s paws and belly should be submerged in water for ultimate heat relief.

Below, my water shy pup Wally (on the right) is starting to realize that the ocean IS refreshing during summer time!

Wally exploring the Adriatic Sea safely on a 30' check cord

Frozen Dog Treats

Make frozen treats using dog-safe ingredients.

Freeze water, bone broth, or dog-friendly fruits like apples, blueberries, and watermelon in ice cube trays or special treat molds.

Check out some fun, easy doggie popsicle recipes here.

Or smear a Licki Mat with plain yogurt (and optional kelp), then pop it into the freezer for a few hours.

Wally's LickiMat Buddy went into the freezer for a few hours
Wally’s frozen Licki Mat Buddy

Indoor Doggie Playtime

On especially hot days, play with your dogs inside!

You can play indoor games like tug-of-war, hide and seek, or interactive dog puzzle toys.

For example, Snuffle Mats or treat dispensing balls like the Pet Zone IQ treat ball.

ACs, Fans & Blackout Curtains

There are a few options to keep our dogs cool inside.

The AC would obviously be your first option, but tower fans are definitely a runner up.

Also, open your windows during the cooler early morning and late evening hours for a nice cross-breeze.

Once the sun comes up, close your windows, shut your blinds and pull your curtains closed.

Blackout curtains do a really good job at helping to keep the heat out.

Bonus: They also decrease the power bill, and are visually appealing. I definitely love mine!

Morning and Evening Dog Walks

Schedule your dog’s walks during the cooler parts of the day, such as early morning or late evening.

Also, be aware that pavement (and sand!) can become extremely hot and burn your dog’s paws, so always check their temperature with the back of your hand before you have your pup walk on it.

If it’s too hot for your hand, it’s too hot for their paw pads.

Try to stay on grassy areas or get your pups some doggie shoes.

Shaded Rest Areas

Set up shaded spots in your yard or on your patio with water and comfortable bedding for your dog to rest and relax in.

Cooling Dog Mats

Invest in cooling mats for dogs or pads that are designed to keep pets cool.

In the picture below, my Boxer mix Missy is staying cool on one in the car. This was on a road trip during summer time when the AC stopped working all of a sudden!

I looked up the nearest pet retail store, pulled up and bought one. Total life saver!

How to keep dogs cool in the summer time - Boxer mix Missy enjoying the cooling mat on our roadtrip

Dog Grooming

Regular grooming can help your dog stay cooler by preventing their fur from becoming too matted or dense.

However, be careful not to shave certain breeds with double coats, as their fur actually helps regulate temperature!

Limit Dog Exercise

On very hot days, it’s important to limit strenuous exercise.

Overexertion in high temperatures can lead to heatstroke.

Doggie Cooling Vest

Consider using a dog cooling vest that you can wet and put on your dog.

This helps them stay cool through evaporation.

Car Dog Safety

Never leave your dog in a parked car.

Cars can become dangerously hot in a matter of minutes, even with the windows cracked.

Veterinarian Dr. Ernie Ward created a wonderful, informational video about this topic that’s available on YouTube!

Hydration for Dogs

Always keep fresh, cool water available for your dog.

Dehydration can happen quickly in hot weather.

How To Keep Dogs Cool In The Summer Heat: Bottom Line

It can definitely be a challenge to keep our pups cool during the hot summer months!

For me, it always worked best to exercise the pups super early in the day or late at night combined with the AC’ed inside.

When we had a backyard, the pups also had pool time during the day. Sometimes, I’d bring out the sprinklers too.

You can also make refreshing doggie popsicles and entertain your pups inside with games like hide and seek, as well as interactive dog food puzzles.

This keeps them active without exposing them to the heat.

How do you keep your pooch fit & exercised in the summer months while keeping them cool?

As always, I’d love to hear from you in the comment section below this blog post!

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Barbara launched her blog K9sOverCoffee in 2014 and has been feeding her dogs raw dog food since 2015. As a former professional dog walker, she’s passionate about balancing species-appropriate exercise with healthy dog nutrition. Barbara is raw dog food nutrition certified from “Dogs Naturally Magazine” and the author of several e-books about minimally processed, balanced raw dog food.






12 responses to “How To Keep Dogs Cool In The Summer”

  1. Kate Obrien Avatar
    Kate Obrien

    Important tips to share at this time of year. I’m thinking about getting a kiddie pool this year for Jack & Maggie. Neither are big swimmers, but maybe that will motivate them to enjoy water more,

    1. K9sOverCoffee Avatar

      Thank you, Kate ~ the hard plastic kiddie pools we got for Missy & Buzz were a great investment! I hope Jack & Maggie will enjoy their future pools a little 😉

  2. Emma Avatar

    We are an early morning family, so we get our big exercise in by 7 or 8 am every day which is best in the summer. We also have a dog pool for those hot days when we want to play in the yard. If we do walk during warmer times we have KoolKollars which can be filled with ice to help keep us cool. Overheating is so dangerous.

    1. K9sOverCoffee Avatar

      So are we ~ we believe in the early bird catching the worms 😉 Your KoolKollars are cool indeed!

  3. Talent Hounds Avatar
    Talent Hounds

    Great reminder and tips for this time of year.

    1. K9sOverCoffee Avatar

      Thank you, Talent Hounds 🙂 It’s so easy for a pup to become overheated.

  4. Diane Silver Avatar

    All great reminders! We love our kiddie pool. We have the plastic kind like the one in your photo.

    1. K9sOverCoffee Avatar

      Thanks, Diane ~ aren’t they great? I sure hope they’ll last for several years, unlike the inflatable one we had to get last year because the hard plastic ones were all sold out!!

  5. MyDogLikes Avatar

    Great roundup! The boys seem to be just plain hot and uncomfortable some of the time. I really like walking in a steam for our walk or being able to find some water for them to take a dip in mid walk! I am just starting to learn about cool coats and want to test one out with the boys to see if these help!

    1. K9sOverCoffee Avatar

      Thank you, Rachael & Kevin ~ wading through water is so much fun, not only for the pups, but for us humans as well! Ian & I both got vibrams (those funny looking toe shoes) so that we could just walk right into the streams with the pups without having to worry about getting our shoes/socks wet or having to take them off first. Great investment for sure!
      –> The cool coats are cool for sure I’ve heard 🙂 Looking forward to your review!

  6. Tenacious Little Terrier Avatar
    Tenacious Little Terrier

    Mr. N is getting shaved down at his next grooming appointment (even though it makes him look like I never feed him) and he has a cooling coat. If he’s too hot, he’ll just plop down in the grass and I’ll carry him home.

    1. K9sOverCoffee Avatar

      Yay for Mr. N’s cooling coat! That’s awesome that you can just carry him back home…we were only able to do that with our pups until they were about 5 months old. I can just about lift Missy up, but forget about doing that with Buzz boy, let along carrying him!!

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