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.
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 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.
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!
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.
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.
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 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.
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!
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!
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.
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!
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!
- How to make doggie popsicles
- Where can I take my dog to swim?
- How to deal with heat strokes in dogs
- This hedgehog squeaky dog toy floats
- How to play hide & seek with your dogs
- Croatia with dogs: Our summer road trip with Wally