How to keep your dog cool in hot weather

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When the sun is shining it is easy to forget our canine companions can often find the weather too hot to handle. Whilst we can easily sweat to keep cool, dog’s don’t sweat like we do and instead lose heat through panting.

Excessive panting (especially rapid, shallow and louder than usual breathing with their ribcage moving very fast), can often be a sign of overheating so it is super important to keep your dog cool during warmer weather. In particular, Brachycephalic breeds have shorter noses and narrower breathing passages so they often have to work harder than other breeds to cool down.

However, we are here to help with some top tips to help keep your dog healthy and happy when it’s heating up outside.

Watch out for scorched paws

Tarmac and paved surfaces can heat up to unbearable temperatures resulting in very sore and burnt paws. Keep in mind that tarmac can reach a staggering 52℃ when it’s a balmy 25℃ outside, even when it’s cloudy and there’s a light breeze.

If you can, avoid the hottest part of the day by heading out for your daily walks either earlier in the morning or later in the day, walking them on the grass when possible.

If in doubt do the palm test – hold your palm to the ground and if you cannot hold it there for more than 7 seconds it’s too hot for your dog.

You can give your dog’s paws extra protection against hot surfaces with specially designed paw balms or even little booties – say hello to your dog’s inner fashionista.

Should my dog play outside when it’s hot?

Just as we’re advised not to run in the midday sun, if your dog loves a game of fetch or fancies himself as the fastest pup about town, try to avoid strenuous exercise during the hottest part of the day. The heat can find them struggling to cool down and heatstroke can easily strike.

Is it ok to keep your dog in the car when it’s warm out?

The simple answer is no. Whenever the temperature is above 20℃ it can be potentially fatal to leave your dog in the car.

Dogs can get heat stroke in just 15 minutes and it can take just 10 minutes for your car to heat up to dangerous levels despite parking in the shade and leaving the windows down. Even if you are just popping to the shops – it’s really not worth the risk.

Dogs in hot cars

To learn more about dogs, cars and heatstroke we have a handy article here 

Hydration is key

Whether you’re out and about or chilling at home, ensure your dog has access to plenty of fresh water. Travel bowls or doggy drinking bottles are easy to carry around with you on days out and super handy for giving your dog a refreshing drink or lunch on the go.

Has your dog lost their appetite?

During warmer weather, some dogs can lose their appetite, especially if they are having shorter walks and spending more time indoors to avoid the heat. Try feeding little and often to help maintain their nutritional requirements at a pace that suits them. For refreshing and delicious treat ideas we love freezing slices of banana or freezing some kibble in water in an ice cube tray.

If your dog continues to fuss over their food and your not sure why have a number of handy tips that can help 

Should my dog wear suncream?

Just like us, dogs can suffer sunburn too! Despite their fur, shorter-haired breeds or those with lighter coats are most at risk so it’s worth using suncream and sticking to the shade when possible to keep them protected.

Suncream for children or sensitive skin works a treat or you can find special dog specific brands too. Do a test patch 24hrs before use then apply to their most exposed areas such as their belly and ears.

How to keep your dog cool

For those long summer days and humid nights, we recommend investing in a cooling mat to give your dog somewhere to literally chill out. A wet towel also works a treat.

If your doggie fancies cooling down in style nothing beats a frozen bandana, yes, you read that right. Simply rinse in water, squeeze out most of the liquid just so it’s damp, fold so it’s ready to wear, then pop in the freezer for a refreshing, yet super smart way to cool off.

For a complete cool-down, set up a shallow paddling pool for your dog to splash around in – just make sure there’s room in case you can’t resist joining them! If your dog prefers the stay inside, keep the curtains closed to keep the heat out and set up a fan for the ultimate chill out den.

Does your dog have a favourite way to keep cool? Let us know!

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10 comments

  1. I spray my dog with a hairdresser’s spray bottle that I keep in the fridge so the water is nice and cool. He loves the water mist raining down on him!

  2. We lived in Italy for ten years with our Labrador . Follow these basic rules
    1. Walks at 7 am and 9.00 pm.
    2. Once back from 7 am walk then hose down dog.
    3. Once cooled off and drunk water then bring inside.
    4. Once inside make sure you find a non sunny spot in house and wet a cotton pillow case and place on top of your dog while he is lying down.
    5. Place a fan near him with a water bowl.
    6. Keep him inside like this until the sun goes down and walk him at 9 pm.
    7. Give him plenty of toys and a nice bone and let him out just for toilet needs.

    Also moisturise his paws with coconut oil to stop them getting dry.

    Worked for my Labrador !

    Regards Jacqui

  3. Will definitely try the frozen banana! Thank you.

    Paddling pool has been a boon this last few weeks though very important to empty and refill daily to avoid infestation.

    We have had a few critical comments about giving our girl ice cubes which she loves. Is there any Vetinary contraindication to occasional ice cubes?

    1. Hi David,

      Ice cubes are a good way of cooling your dog down in this hot weather. Our main suggestion is to supervise your dog when they’re eating them to make sure they aren’t swallowing them whole.

      Thanks
      Ellie

  4. We have just got a ‘new’ 5 year old husky (and obviously ordered food from here for her!) so with a thick coat it’s a case of getting up early for a walk and then taking her in the evening. Lunch time walks are not on the cards right now! This UK heatwave has got to end soon!

    1. Hi Jason, I do the same, i have a 10 year old Alaskan Malamute and I walk him first thing in the morning (out at 6am some days) then as late as 9.30pm. exception was last night as it was still so warm at 9 so just let him out in the yard to do his business I’m afraid. Usually our walks are for a couple of hours each time but lately it’s a no no. I do feel sorry for these breeds in summer. I’m thinking of buying him a paddling pool so he can cool his paws off!

  5. LEO my border collie loves munching on ice cubes after we’ve been out for a walk….we have the woods on our doorstep so we can go out anytime as it’s nice and cool…no running till after 7 when the sun’s going down …so it’s up the bridleway till 10…He loves splashing around in the stream which is in the wood’s too …..he spend’s the day time chilling in my bedroom curtains shut and fans going on a wooden floor

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