How to Keep Your Dog Cool in the Summer

Summer can mean lots of fun outside with your dog. But when the temps soar, take steps to protect your pet. Whether you take him for a walk down the street, a ride in the car, or just out in the yard to play, the heat can be hard on him. Here's how to keep your furry best friend safe.

Never leave your dog in the car. No, not even if you think you’ll only be a few minutes. Even when it isn’t that hot outside, the temp can soar inside a closed car. On an 85-degree day, it can reach 102 F within 10 minutes. And that's with a window cracked. After 30 minutes, it could be up to 120. Leave your dog at home, or go places where he can come with you.

Keep your house cool. If Fido’s home alone, make sure he can truly chill. Leave the air conditioner on and close the drapes. If you don't have AC, open the windows and turn on a fan. You may want to try a cooling vest or mat to see if they help.

Watch when you exercise. Limit when and how much you do when it's hot and humid. Take walks in the cooler part of the day, in the early morning and evening hours. Carry water, too -- enough for both of you.

Check the pavement. Before you head out for a walk, touch the pavement. If it's too hot for your hand, it's too hot for your dog's paw pads. Walk on the grass and stay off the asphalt. You also might want to try booties for your dog so his paws don’t burn.

Offer plenty of water and shade. Don't leave your pooch alone outside for long. And when he is there, make sure he has shade and lots of fresh, cool water. Add ice cubes when you can. Trees are better than doghouses for shade. They let air flow through. Doghouses can trap the heat and make it worse. Think about a kiddie pool or a sprinkler to help your pal cool off in the yard.

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Make cool treats. Help your canine chill from the inside out. For puppy popsicles, make ice cubes with tasty treats inside. Or fill and freeze a chew toy to make a chilly snack.

Keep an eye on the humidity, too. When the air is full of moisture, your dog may not be able to pant enough to cool himself off. That can raise his temperature, which can lead to heatstroke. Stay inside, and limit exercise, too.

Take care of at-risk dogs. Be watchful if you have a snub-nosed pet like a pug or bulldog. Their smaller airways make it harder for them to release heat when they pant. It's also easy for old and overweight dogs, or those with heart and breathing problems, to get heatstroke.

Groom your pet. If your dog has long hair, get rid of any mats and tangles. It will help keep him cool. Don't shave or clip his coat before you talk to your vet or groomer. The extra fur that keeps him warm in winter may also keep him cool in summer.

Visit your vet. Keep his shots up to date, especially in summer. The parvo virus spreads in hot weather. And your dog probably spends more time outside, which means it’s more likely he could come into contact with a critter that has rabies. Summer is high season for fleas, which spread many diseases, and mosquitoes, which carry heartworm. Get him on regular meds to prevent these pests.

Watch for signs of overheating. Your dog can't tell you when he doesn't feel well, so keep an eye out for heatstroke, which can have these symptoms:

  • Heavy panting
  • Heavy drooling
  • Trouble breathing
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Dark or red gums and tongue
  • Dizziness
  • Weakness
  • Agitation

If you see any signs, get him to the vet right away.

WebMD Pet Health Feature Reviewed by Amy Flowers, DVM on /2, 17

Sources

SOURCES:

The Humane Society of the United States: "Keep Pets Safe in the Heat."

American Animal Hospital Association: "Keep it cool for pets on warm days."

Cummings Veterinary Medical Center at Tufts University: "Spring Has Sprung: Tips to Keep Your Pets Healthy and Happy."

NC State College of Veterinary Medicine: "NC State Veterinary Hospital Offers Tips to Keep Pets Safe and Healthy this Summer."

Blue Cross for Pets: "How to keep dogs cool in the summer heat."

American Veterinary Medical Association: "8 Things You Can Do to Protect Your Dog in the Summer."

PennVet: "10 Important Tips from Penn Vet to Keep Pets Healthy This Summer."

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