8 Fun and Practical Tips for How to Keep Dogs Cool in Summer Heat

A panting German Shepherd standing at the edge of a pool on a sunny day with green trees in the background.

If your doggy friend is like most, he probably loves chilling out in the backyard in the summertime. Here are some tips to keep dogs cool in summer while they're enjoying all of that fresh air and sunshine. 

Of course, there's always a chance your pet might enjoy a little too much of that summer sunshine. That's why we'll also discuss how to recognize the signs of heat distress and how to help a dog cool down.

Water, Water Everywhere

Ahh, a nice cool drink on a hot day... Your dog appreciates a thirst-quencher as much as you do. And, since he can't help himself, he relies on you to provide the refreshments. 

A gravity-fed water fountain will ensure you'll never come home to a dry water bowl. Fill it full of ice and water and your pet will always have a cool, refreshing drink available. Chilled water might even encourage him to drink more on those brutally hot days.

To keep your dog well-hydrated and healthy, always make sure his water bowl is clean, full of fresh water, and easy to access. Keep it out of direct sunlight, too, so the water stays cool and refreshing. 

Provide a Cool, Shady Spot to Nap

If you don't have a shade tree, put up a tarp sunshade for your napping dog. Cool grass and flowing air help keep dogs cool in summer. Besides, a cool, breezy yard is much more inviting than a hot, stuffy doghouse!

A Border Collie resting in shady grass and foliage with dappled sunlight.

The concrete under a deck stays nice and chilled and can help a dog cool down, but it's not very comfortable for napping. Try adding an elevated dog bed that gets your dog off that hard concrete and allows air to circulate. Get one designed for outdoor use and you can just hose it off when it gets dirty. 

Bonus: An elevated bed that's at least 12" high can help foil fleas

Offer "Pupsicle" Treats

Remember how exciting a visit from the ice cream truck was when you were a kid? Treat your pet to that same kind of excitement with a cold, healthy goodie. An icy treat can help a dog cool down after fun in the sun. A Chill & Chew dog toy is ready to fill and freeze. You can also improvise a pupsicle by freezing healthy burdock roots or carrots. Your dog will really enjoy gnawing on her frozen treat — under supervision, of course!

Dress Your Dog for the Weather

Choose the proper pet apparel and your pup will be cool and stylish! A cooling vest offers some much-appreciated heat relief to keep dogs cool in summer. The moistened vest draws heat away from your dog's body as the water in the vest evaporates. That evaporation creates a layer of cool air next to your dog's body. 

A cooling bandana works in a similar way to help a dog cool down. Both of these accessories work best in hot, dry air where evaporation is quicker and more efficient. Your daily walks will be more enjoyable (and safer!) when you know how to keep dogs cool in summer by dressing them for the hot weather.

Treat Your Pup to a Pool Day

Fill a kiddie pool with water and watch your dog splash and play! 

  • Match the water level to your pet's age and height.
  • Make sure your pet is comfortable using the pool and always supervise him. 
  • Place the pool in the shade so it stays nice and cool.
  • Keep your phone handy for cool pics of your dog in the pool!

Play Mind Games With Your Dog

Dogs need physical and mental stimulation in order to stay healthy and happy. One great tip for how to keep dogs cool in summer is to avoid the heat entirely. If it's too hot to play outside, play inside!

Put your dog on a down/stay or tie her up. Then let her watch you hide a handful of kibble around the room. Be as creative as possible in finding hiding places. Then release your dog with the command, "Go, find!" Praise her each time she finds (and eats) a piece.

Once she understands the game, you can expand the hiding places to all over the house. If you have the time and patience, you can even hide her entire breakfast! In that case, leave a few pieces of kibble in each hiding place.

She'll have all the joy and excitement of a fun hunting game — while staying in air-conditioned comfort!

Keep Dogs Cool in Summer by Chilling Out During Extreme Heat or Humidity

It's time for a long walk or your dog is begging for a rousing game of fetch. What's a responsible pet parent to do? Try to schedule these energetic activities for early morning or late evening, when it's cooler outside. A young, healthy dog will run or play to the point of exhaustion if you don't stop him. It's essential to keep dogs cool in summer by making sure your buddies hydrate, rest, and cool off as needed. 

Summer sidewalks can get hot enough to fry an egg. Try walking on the cool grass whenever possible. Remember, if it's too hot for you to walk on barefoot, it's too hot for your pup's paws!

Also, avoid going for walks on hot, humid days. According to Dr. Barry Kellogg, VMD, "Animals pant to evaporate moisture from their lungs, which takes heat away from their body. If the humidity is too high, they are unable to cool themselves and their temperature will skyrocket to dangerous levels—very quickly."

Watch Your Dog for Signs of Heat Distress

Short-nosed or brachycephalic breeds like Bulldogs or Boxers can't cool themselves by panting when it's hot outside. Those adorable, smushed faces just can't move air efficiently enough. You'll especially want them to enjoy their outdoor playtime during the cooler morning hours. 

Other dogs that may have a hard time handling the heat are young puppies, older dogs, overweight pets, thick-coated dogs like chows or huskies, and those with heart disease or who are on certain medications.

Signs of heatstroke in canines:

  • Excessive panting
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Profuse drooling
  • Extreme thirst
  • A dark red or purple tongue 
  • Glazed eyes
  • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • Stumbling or other signs of a lack of coordination
  • Lethargy or unwillingness to move
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Seizures
  • Unconsciousness
  • A temperature of more than 104 °F 

It's important to know how to help a dog cool down if they show any of these symptoms. It's a heat emergency! Move your dog to a cooler location immediately. Cover her with wet towels or pour cool (not icy cold) water on the top of her head and body. A fan blowing on her can help cool her down quicker. Then call your vet for additional instructions.

Send us a woof if you'd like more information about how to keep dogs cool in summer. From a stroll around the neighborhood to a hike up a mountain, we're all about active people and their energetic dogs!

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