Living in Wisconsin we only have to worry about the summer heat for 2-3 months out of the year.  I sympathize with those who live year-round in hot and humid climates but envy you come December and January, LOL.

Dogs are susceptible to heat stroke just as we are, so keeping them cool in the summer heat is extremely important.

Keeping your dog cool this summer can be fun! Go ahead and jump in the pool or play in the sprinkler together! Have a picnic in the shade and share some frozen treats together. Provide plenty of water, use a cooling mat and avoid hot surfaces, and of course, never leave your dog inside the car.

Did you know that dogs sweat mainly through the glands in their paw pads?

three dogs outside keeping cool in summer heat

Last summer our then 2-year-old border collie had three seizures. The first time we thought it was a heat stroke, even though we hadn’t been out very long, it was very hot outside. We rushed him inside to the basement to cool off. After some research, and talking with the vet we think it may be Border Collie Collapse (BCC).

It’s very scary to see your dog get overheated, I don’t wish that upon any dog. So please use extra caution with your dog in the summer heat.

Here are 11 tips for keeping your dog cool during the summer:

1. Provide plenty of fresh water

Ensure your dog has access to clean, cool water always. It’s important for you and your dog to stay hydrated when it’s hot outside. Our dogs love this water jug, as it provides fresh flowing water all day long.

On an average day, your dog needs about 1 oz. of water per 1 lb. of body weight. They may need more water when it’s hot outside. If your dog is healthy, then there is no need to measure your dog’s water intake.

If you know you are going to be outside for an extended time or going hiking, make sure to hydrate yourself and your dog beforehand. And bring a portable water bottle for your dog.

Here are some tips for how to get your dog to drink more water.

dog drinking more water

2. Create shade

Provide a cool area where your dog can retreat from the sun’s direct heat.

We are lucky to have plenty of large trees in our yard that provide shade. On hot days our dogs seek out those cool shady spots.

If you don’t have natural shade in your yard, then you need to create shade using umbrellas, canopies, or tarps.

3. Limit outdoor activities

Avoid extreme exercise during the hottest parts of the day. Take walks in the morning or evening when the temperature is cooler.

It’s better to go outside more often for shorter periods when it’s hot. If you have a high-energy dog as we do, then go outside for 5-10 minutes, several times a day instead of one or two long play sessions.

three dogs standing in doggie pool

4. Use a doggie pool or sprinkler

Set up a shallow pool or sprinkler in your backyard for your dog to splash around and cool off in. All of our dogs love jumping in the when playing outside on a hot day.

If your dog isn’t sure about the water, start with the smallest amount of water, just to get their paws wet. I find throwing in a favorite toy encourages them to jump in, even if it’s for a split second.

Make sure to replace the water each day. The water not only gets warm in the hot sun, it gets pretty disgusting after the dogs are in it all day.

TIP: We used to use the cheap plastic kiddie pool for the dogs, but found they get cracked each year. So, we bought this doggie pool a few years ago. I love it because it’s easy to clean and fold up for the season.

two dogs laying outside on cooling mat and wearing a cooling vest

5. Use a cooling mat or vest

We invested in a cooling mat for our dog, Thunder. It is specially designed to provide a cool surface for your dog to lie on. These mats are self-cooling and do not require any refrigeration or electricity.

After a lot of research, we also use this Ruffwear cooling vest to help our dog stay cool on outings. Simply pour water on the vest and it brings down the core temperature of your dog.  

6. Stay indoors

I know summer hits and you want to be outside, but ensure your dog has a cool area inside the house, away from direct sunlight. Keep fans or air conditioning on to maintain a comfortable temperature.

Many dogs will seek out the coolest areas of the house, such as on the tile or next to the cooling vent.

3-Ingredient Homemade Watermelon Frozen Dog Treats

7. Make frozen dog treats

Frozen treats are the best and your dogs are going to love them. I have a bunch of easy homemade frozen dog treat ideas here. My favorite is the watermelon treats! You can keep it simple and freeze chunks of fruit or veggies.

8. Use a portable fan

Fans are a great way to cool the area around you. We have a couple of these portable Ryobi fans that my daughter brings to agility trials to keep the dogs cool. They’d be great for when you travel or in your backyard.

9. Avoid hot surfaces

Pavement, asphalt, and sand can become scorching hot, causing burns to your dog’s paws. Take advantage of the grassy areas or walk your dog during a cooler time of the day.

10. Cool paws and coat

Dogs sweat mainly through the glands in their paw pads. Keeping their paw pads cool is the quickest way to cool your down dog’s temperature. If you notice your dog getting too hot, you can pour cold water on their pads or use a cold towel to wrap around their feet.

Pouring water over their back and head can help reflect the heat from their coat. This is how the cooling vest mentioned in tip 5 works.

Never leave your dog in the car. In just 10 minutes temps in your car examples

11. Never leave your dog in the car

Even with the windows cracked, temperatures inside a car can quickly become dangerously hot. Leaving your dog unattended in a car can be fatal.

I can remember pulling into a mall parking lot a few years ago that had two small dogs in the back seat. All windows were closed, and no owner insight. I called the police and finally, 10 minutes later the owner walked up angry with me that I called the police.

Please do not leave your dog in the car, even for a minute.

Here is a great video example of how hot your car can get:

Many U.S. states now have laws in place that protect animals being left in parked cars.

If you witness a dog locked inside a hot car, try to find the owner, or call the police to assist. Some states allow you to break a window to get the dog out without implications. But I recommend checking the laws in your area before doing so.

Watch for signs of overheating

It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of summer when the temperatures rise. But when it gets too hot, use these tips on how to keep your dog cool in summer to keep them safe from overheating.

Be vigilant for signs of heatstroke, including:

  • excessive panting
  • lethargy
  • drooling
  • vomiting
  • unsteady walking

If you suspect heatstroke, seek immediate veterinary assistance.

Remember, every dog is unique, so pay attention to your dog’s individual needs and adjust these tips accordingly. Keeping your dog cool and comfortable is crucial for their safety during the hot summer months.

Keeping your dog cool this summer can be fun! Go ahead and jump in the pool or play in the sprinkler together! Have a picnic in the shade and share some frozen treats together.

Please share any tips below you use to keep your dog cool this summer.

Your summer cool-down shopping list

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About the Author

Debi McKee

Debi McKee is the expert behind Rescue Dogs 101 where she guides you in your journey of adopting and raising a rescue dog every step of the way. She is a mom of 3 human kids and 4 dogs and volunteers for a local dog rescue and Humane Society. Click here for more about Debi and her passion for helping you and your dog.

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