The dog days of summer are here! It’s crucial to stay cool. Even more so for your dog!
So, how can you keep your dogs cool outside this summer?
We’ll discuss 5 tips to help you keep your dogs cool outside — in addition to describing common conditions that crop up during the summer as a result of heat exposure.
So, let’s dive in! Here are the five icy-cold tips and tricks to keep your pooch cool this summer.
What’s considered “too hot” for dogs, anyway?
You know when you’ve stepped outside and your feet start to burn instantly? Yep, that’s hot.
If you walk outside, and your feet begin to feel that hot, burning sensation after 3-5 seconds of standing on the pavement, it’s too hot for your dog to be walking outside bare-footed.
In general, when the temperature hits 70-80 degrees Fahrenheit, it’s high time to take extra breaks, bring extra water, and set up a cool and relaxing shade for your dog.
Keep dogs cool outside by avoiding heat stroke
Fortunately for us, humans sweat through their skin, making it easy to breathe, talk, smile, and enjoy the fun dog days of summer with minimal distractions.
Not so for pooches.
Since dogs sweat by panting, when it’s 85 degrees plus outside, the weather makes it that much more challenging for dogs to sweat and cool down. Especially for brachycephalic dogs (dogs with condensed snouts — like pugs, boxers, French and English bulldogs, and Boston Terriers), dogs are more likely to contract heat stroke, as breathing can become a challenge in hot weather.
Before we dive into the ways to keep dogs cool outside during summer, we want you to be prepared to act in case a heat-related emergency occurs.
That’s why we want you to be able to recognize the signs and symptoms of doggy heat stroke should they ever, god forbid, occur.
Know dog heat stroke signs and symptoms
Some of the most common signs of heat stroke in a dog include the following:
- Excessive panting
- An inability to move
- Reddened gums
- Loss of consciousness (if gone untreated)
- Sudden collapsing
- Vomiting and diarrhea
- Other non-specified anxiety and respiratory-based issues
In addition to water, shade, and plenty of breaks, if hot days give your dog anxiety, calming herbs such as chamomile and valerian work wonders for a nervous pooch that struggles to breathe in the sweltering sun.
If you find your dog is still having trouble regulating and controlling breathing in the heat, your dog can also benefit from a natural herbal supplement. Herbs such as burdock and marshmallow root can help cleanse the body’s tissues and blood and help to soothe a dog’s upper respiratory system by suppressing heat-induced inflammation.
Whatever exciting experience you and your dog are taking this summer, a healthy, natural herbal support blend to soothe their respiratory system may help keep your dog cool outside, breathing easily, and staying active for all of this summer’s fun adventures.
Now that you’re well-equipped to handle heat-stroke-related emergencies, you’re ready to learn about the best ways to keep dogs cool outside for the summer.
5 Tips for how to keep your dog cool outside
You’ve got your lounge chairs, some delicious snacks for you and the family (more about delicious pup treats later on in this article), sunscreen, and bug repellant for the great outdoors. The best way to keep your dog cool outside includes the following:
- Keep your canine friend hydrated.
- Avoid midday heat (with shades and plenty of breaks)
- Make a splash to keep your dog cool
- Try frozen treats, toys, and meals
- Learn how to prevent dehydration and heat stroke
1. Keep your canine friend hydrated
When it’s hot outside, we tend to guzzle much more water than on a cooler day. It’s important to give your dog the right amount of water for the weather and their needs.
How much water you give your dog will depend on the following factors:
- Size: how large your dog is
- Food: for dogs who eat kibble, canned, dried, or raw food, they’ll need much more water
- Weather: as mentioned, the hotter the day, the more water that’s needed
- Medications: some medications require that dogs drink more water throughout the day
- Age: with puppies, you’ll want to monitor their water intake, especially given that many puppies are still potty training. Adult dogs can self-regulate, therefore you may not need to monitor an adult dog’s water intake as closely.
Tips on how to feed your dogs water
If your dogs are anything like ours, they’re pretty sloppy drinkers. As a general rule of thumb, dogs ideally should be drinking about one-half to one ounce of fresh water per pound of body weight.
Most of that water will flop out of their water bowl, so it’s important you’ll want to measure out more water than you think your dog will need to account for any water that falls to the ground (or misses your dog’s mouth).
If your dog is playing in a large body of water — say a pool, lake, or ocean — we recommend bringing fresh water, as salt and lake water often includes additional parasites and can be harmful for a dog’s immune system.
Bringing a refillable water dispenser, a washable water bowl, or a squirt can of water are all easy ways to make sure your dog stays extra cool this summer.
Avoid bloat from overhydration
Drinking excessive water can cause bloat. So, an easy way to keep a dog cool during summertime — without feeding excessive water — is by providing your dog with a bowl of ice cubes to nosh on.
By providing cool water to drink and a bowl of crushed ice cubes, you can help keep dogs cool in summer and prevent bloat from overconsumption of water.
If drinking water isn’t an issue for your dog, but you’re concerned about engaging in outdoor activities with your dog in the middle of the heat, you’ll want to take a look at our next tip, which is all about minimizing exposure to direct sunlight.
2. Avoid midday heat (with shade and breaks)
When the sun is out longer, keeping a dog cool in the summer can become more challenging. After all, your dog could be potentially exposed to summer’s sunlight for up to 16 hours of the day!
So, how can you make sure it’s safe to play outdoors while also keeping your dog safe from overheating and heatstroke? The simple answer is to avoid the midday heat.
If the heat index is low — for example on a mildly overcast day — you may be able to take your dog out for a midday exercise.
It’s important to keep your dog out of the midday heat, because dogs’ feet are more susceptible to sunburn on hot asphalt. To check if the asphalt is cool enough, place your hand on or pour water over a blacktop.
If the water steams up soon after pouring the water, or if your hand starts to burn after three to five seconds, the weather may pose dangers for your dog.
If you and your dog are hankering for a midday stroll, consider an alternative route — such as a shaded trail run — to release some of that pent-up mid-day summer energy.
Plan your pup’s main exercise for the least warm parts of the day to keep your dog cool. This will usually be later in the evening or early in the morning.
By avoiding exercise during the hottest parts of the day, you’ll also help prevent heatstroke due to summer heat.
If your dog just needs a break from the sun, there are plenty of ways to spend some time cooling off in the shade that’s both fun and relaxing for your dog. Let’s take a look at a few break ideas to help keep your dog cool and collected during the sizzling summer months.
Signs that your dog may need a break
You might be asking, “But how can I tell if my dog needs a break? They seem spry and okay to me!”
You can ensure that your dog is ready for a break by making sure to check for the following signs:
- Excessive panting
- Any whimpering or whining
- Sluggish or slower movement than usual (while hiking, walking, or jogging, for example)
- Laying down more than usual
If you notice any of these signs, your dog may be indicating that they need a short break. Not to worry, though.
We have you covered. Check out these awesome break ideas to keep your dog cool outside.
Break ideas to keep your dog cool outside
If you’re chilling in the shade, here are a few fun ways to spend the time with your pooch while you both wait for the day to cool down:
- Provide water (obviously): giving your dog a few squirts or laps of water every 15 to 20 minutes can help keep them cool.
- Provide shade and find rest spots out of the shade: Your dog might just need a short break before they’re ready to jump into the next activity. You can chill under an umbrella, a tree, an awning, or indoors to rest up and rejuvenate those hot paws and feet.
- Keep your dog elevated off the ground: whether they’re chilling in their crate, on a cooling bed, or on top of a towel, reducing the amount of contact with the hot ground can have a cooling effect on a dog’s body.
- Do a check of your dog’s body: paws, fur, mouth, and a dog’s ears are all great places to start. Make sure nothing is stuck in the paw pads or ears, check that your dog is salivating (but not drooling, as this can be a sign of heatstroke), and check that there aren’t any foreign objects lodged in their fur. A quick body check on your dog may help your dog avoid complications due to the heat.
- Take a few pictures with your dog: Because, well, why not? Depending on the heat, you may be spending more time than you thought inside, so why not make it a fun little adventure by bringing a camera and snapping some selfies while you wait?
Dogs adore having R&R time with their owners (and best friends). These fun break ideas in the shade will help ensure your dog doesn’t overheat nor succumb to heat exhaustion, while providing you with some special quality time with your furry best friend.
3. Make a splash to keep your dog cool
The sun’s out, which means the water’s warm. Dogs love going swimming!
Fortunately, swimming happens to be one of the most natural, easy ways to keep your dog cool in the summer heat.
The following water activities are sure to be a hit with you, your friends, and your dog.
Water activities for you and your dog
It doesn’t take much water to keep a dog happy. Some of our favorite water activities include the following:
- Going for a swim in a lake or ocean: dogs can benefit from swimming in a large body of water (it’s great exercise!). Just make sure you have a towel nearby to clean off your dog, as a wet dog can become a bit of a nuisance once walking indoors.
- For small dogs, try swimming in a kiddie pool: a puppy may not be ready to dive head-first into a crashing ocean wave, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still play in the water in a small dog pool. Just make sure your pool isn’t made of plastic, as a dog’s paws can puncture the bottoms of the pool (which can cause unwanted leaks in the pool liner).
- Take a walk by a shaded stream: Walking in ankle-high water can also help keep a dog’s body temperature cool, as the water can have a cooling effect on a dog’s body. Just make sure to carry plenty of water to prevent overheating from excessive walking.
Outdoor swimming safety tips for dog safety
All outdoor activities carry some risk. While swimming is a fun way to enjoy a hot, sweaty day, you can ensure your dog stays safe while swimming with the following swimming safety tips:
- Take it slow, and provide safe swimming activities according to your dog’s swimming experience
- Never leave your dog unattended while swimming
- If using a kiddie pool, make sure the water isn’t filled to the tippity top of the pool
- Keep fresh water nearby to give as a cool drink
- Avoid letting your dog lap up the water from lakes, oceans, streams, and pools, as drinking contaminated water can lead to water intoxication or sodium levels being depleted
- Make sure your dog takes frequent breaks
Though they may be easily excited and hankering to keep swimming, your dog may not be aware they’re experiencing signs of heatstroke until it’s much too late.
You can prevent heatstroke in dogs by following the practices mentioned above: providing plenty of cool water, swimming during cooler parts of the day, and checking your dog’s temperature if you suspect your dog is hot.
4. Try frozen treats, toys, and meals to stay cool
Summer is all about ice-cold eats, treats, and sweets — both for you and your pup.
Dogs love frozen, tasty treats! Some of our favorites include:
- Doggie popsicles
- Frozen fruits and vegetables
- Frozen kongs (filled with nut butters and apple sauce)
- Pup-friendly ice cream (yes, it’s a real thing)
Frozen fruit, veggie, and kong delights
When it comes to feeding your dog, frozen fruits and vegetables may be one of the cheapest, healthiest, and easiest ways to help your dog keep cool during the hottest summer months.
A favorite dog recipe idea for warm weather is to puree an apple to make apple sauce, place the apple sauce (non-sugar-based) in a kong mixed with crushed flaxseeds (pumpkin seeds work as well) and other herbs like raspberry leaf and slippery elm. You can then freeze the kong for later and give it to your dog when they’re ready for a treat or playtime.
The best part about crushed and puréed frozen fruits and vegetables in kongs is that kongs are great for engaging a dog’s mind — and for dogs who are teething. Plus, the frozen toy and treat will keep your dog occupied and cool at all times of the day — early in the morning, later in the evening, and all summer long.
Healthy treats for the win
No summer would be complete without a tasty treat. Though sugar isn’t great for dogs and can result in needing a potential dog detox to avoid liver and kidney complications, a natural, tasty treat — like a healthy "pupsicle" — may be a healthy way to help picky eaters enjoy summer and receive proper nutrition.
You can even help cool your dog down by adding a little water with each treat they receive. Doing so will help give their bodies time to absorb key nutrients, while helping to keep your dog heatstroke-free.
Just in case you were wondering, we’ll describe how you can help prevent heatstroke and dehydration in our next tip.
5. Learn how to prevent dehydration and heatstroke
While ensuring that your dog has plenty of water available to them is a great first step, the best way to keep a dog heatstroke-free is to know how to prevent this condition in the first place.
Aside from having water available throughout the house, the following tips will help your pup stay outside, healthy, and hydrated during hot weather:
- Tip #1: When it’s 85 degrees Fahrenheit or hotter, try not to play with your dog outside for long periods of time. Avoiding prolonged exercise during the hottest parts of the day will help keep your dog happy and healthy.
- Tip #2: For brachycephalic dogs (dogs with condensed snouts — like pugs and boxers), make sure they have plenty of access to airflow (if outside) and air conditioning (if inside). Do your best to avoid keeping your dogs inside drafty dog houses, as these dog houses trap heat and can make breathing challenging.
- Tip #3: Test the elasticity of your dog’s skin. If your dog’s skin doesn’t retract immediately, your dog’s skin may have lost moisture, and your dog might be dehydrated.
- Tip #4: Check the capillary refill time of your dog’s gums. Gently press your dog’s gums so that they become white. Healthy gums should become pink again immediately. Emergency treatment is warranted if the gums don't become pink again until up to three seconds later.
- Tip #5: if you notice your dog is extremely tired or panting more than usual — or if you notice they have a dry nose, mouth, or eyes — your dog may be dehydrated.
By knowing the early signs of heatstroke and dehydration, you can prevent an emergency from occurring. Keep the fun alive this summer by learning how to prevent the worst heat-related emergencies.
As always, if you suspect your dog is in critical danger due to the heat, don’t hesitate to call emergency services immediately.
Bonus tip: Provide your dog with healthy nutrition
Just as humans thrive when we eat the right foods, your dog needs healthy nutrition as well. You can help save your dog this summer by providing them with natural, regular, and healthy nutrition, so they can keep the good times rollin’ all summer long.
By eating healthy meals with natural ingredients, your dog’s will be less likely to experience digestive issues.
Whether your pooch is chillin’ on a pet cot or indoors with the windows cracked open, you can keep your dog happy and healthy this summer by making sure to check the temperature of their skin often, providing them with plenty of water, giving them access to treats and kongs, going exercising at the coolest parts of the day, and cooling off in water.
To learn more about other healthy products and nutritional options for your dog this summer, you can contact us at any time. We cordially invite you to browse our entire collection of year-round and summer-friendly dog products.
Until then, we’ll be hanging with our pup poolside. We hope you have a wonderful, safe, healthy, and happy rest of your summer with your furry friend!