When the hot weather hits, your dog might need some extra help beating the heat. Dogs are highly susceptible to heat, (even overheating or getting a sunburn) with some dogs being compromised due to their bone structure, coat, age, or health.1 For example, Pugs and other flat-nosed breeds can’t pant as effectively, putting them at higher risk for overheating. Knowing the signs of overheating and a few ways to cool your dog can keep your favorite canine happy and healthy as temperatures rise.
1. Keep the Breed, Age, Size, and Weight in Mind
A number of factors contribute to how your dog does in the heat. Breed, age, size, and weight come into play. For example, breeds with a thick coat, short snout, or who have a dark coat may have a difficult time cooling themselves. The following breeds are among those who may struggle with heat:
- Chow chow
- French bulldog
- Cavalier King Charles spaniel
- English springer spaniel
- Golden retriever
Puppies, older dogs, and overweight dogs can’t regulate their body temperatures, so they’re at greater risk, too. Your dog’s medications can interfere with his natural ability to cool himself as well.
2. Make Fresh Water Available
Dogs can get dehydrated very quickly. One of the best ways to prevent overheating is to keep him well hydrated. Replace his water frequently to keep it fresh and enticing. If your dog likes running water, turn on a garden hose and let him take a drink. On particularly hot days, you might want to keep track of how often your dog drinks. You might have to remind your dog by encouraging a drink every now and then.
3. Don’t Leave Your Dog in a Vehicle
Window down or not, do not leave your dog in the car when it’s how outside. The inside temperature can get hot very quickly. If you can’t take your dog with you, leave him at home where he’s out of the sun or in a temperature-controlled environment.2
4. Hit the Shade from 10 am to 2 pm
The sun’s rays are most direct from 10 am to 2 pm, and that’s when you’re both most likely to get too warm. Avoid taking your dog outside when the sun is at its peak. Hit the shade or bring him inside where he can keep cool. The mid-day hours are when it’s the worst for you to be in the sun, too. Those direct rays more easily cause skin damage and heat problems for owners as well.3
5. Learn the Signs of Overheating
Take the time to learn the signs of overheating and dehydration. They include:
- Labored breathing
- Excessive panting
- High heart rate
- Increased respiratory rate
A dog with respiratory issues or that’s more likely to overheat because of other conditions or issues, whether from illness or their biology, can show these symptoms much sooner than the average dog.
If the overheating progresses, your dog can show more disturbing symptoms that include:
- Bloody diarrhea
- Body temperature over 104-degrees Fahrenheit
Get your dog into a cool place, and call your vet immediately if your dog shows any of the symptoms of heatstroke.
6. Pet Pool
Kiddie pools aren’t just for kids. A small plastic pool makes a great place for a dog to cool off. Some dogs will jump right in, while others might need some coaxing. Put the pool in the shade to keep your dog even cooler. Empty and rinse the pool every day to keep the water fresh and appealing to your furry soaker.
7. Visit the Groomer
Dogs meant for cold climates like Huskies and Malamutes and those with double coats like Labradors are highly susceptible to overheating. These dogs can stay cooler with regular visits to the groomer. A shorter coat in the hotter months will trap less heat, keeping him cooler.
Some dogs will only require one visit per summer, while others may need a monthly visit to keep their coats under control. Make that last summer cut at least six weeks before cold weather typically sets in. You want your dog to be warm once the weather starts to change.
8. Exercise Early and Late
The heat may get to your dog, but he still needs regular exercise. Adjust his exercise time to keep you both cool. Early in the morning and later in the evening are good times. Offer your dog water when you get home to keep him well hydrated.
In areas where the temperatures rarely get below 80-degrees during the summer, you might have to get more creative in your exercise routine. Playing fetch in the house and other indoor games can get out his energy without putting his health at risk.
9. Homemade Cooling Mat
Make your own cooling mat by getting a towel wet and laying it on the floor or patio for your dog. It might take some training to get your dog to use the cooling mat, but once he understands, it could become his favorite cooling spot. You can refresh the towel every so often, so your dog always has somewhere cool to lay.
Safe and Fun in the Heat
Dogs can’t tell you when they’re getting too hot. Keep an eye out for the symptoms of heatstroke and give your dog several ways to keep himself cool. Always have water available. Remember, if you’re getting too warm, your four-footed friend with a fur coat is too.
Pet News Daily uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
- Bruchim Y, Horowitz M, and Aroch I. Pathophysiology of heatstroke in dogs—revisited. Temperature (Austin). 2017;4(4): 356-370. doi: 10.1080/23328940.2017.1367457.
- Moon K, Wang S, Bryant K, and Gohlke J. Environmental heat exposure among pet dogs in rural and urban settings in the Southern United States. Front. Vet. Sci. 2021; 5(8): 742926. Accessed November 29, 2021.
- Ultraviolet (UV radiation and sun exposure. epa.gov. Accessed November 29, 2021.