How can I Keep my Dog Cool in the Summer?

Cathy Rogers
Cathy Rogers
Parked cars heat up quickly in the summer.
Parked cars heat up quickly in the summer.

In hot weather, it is imperative to your dog’s health to keep the animal cool. Because dogs only perspire between their toes, they must pant to dispel heat. If an animal becomes excessively overheated, heat exhaustion or heatstroke can occur. Many systems of the body are affected by heatstroke, which can result in organ failure, brain damage, blindness, hemorrhages, convulsions or seizures.

So what can you do to keep your dog cool? One important tip is to keep plenty of water on hand; that means two full bowls at all times. That way, if one bowl is knocked over or emptied, fresh water is still available.

Taking the dog for a walk early in the day is recommended during the hot summer months.
Taking the dog for a walk early in the day is recommended during the hot summer months.

Also, be sure your dog has at least one cool, shaded area to escape from the heat. An umbrella, tree or porch can provide respite. If your pet has an outdoor house, check during the hottest times of the day to verify that it is cool for the pet. Don’t take your dog out for walks in the hottest periods of the day; instead, choose the mornings or evenings for exercise.

Despite what you might think, long fur does not necessarily make a dog warmer. The fur can actually insulate the dog and keep it cooler, so trimming fur is not necessary.

Panting helps dogs deal with heat.
Panting helps dogs deal with heat.

When taking your pet in the car, be aware of the dangers of heat. Because the temperature inside a parked car increases rapidly to deadly levels, if you must leave your dog in the car, keep these tips in mind: make it for only a few minutes, park in the shade and leave two windows partially opened. When you ride your pet in the car, seat the dog near an open window or near an air conditioning vent.

It is important to keep plenty of water on hand at all times during the summer.
It is important to keep plenty of water on hand at all times during the summer.

It may also be necessary to use sunscreen if your dog’s coat is light in color. Dogs can become sunburned on their noses, ears and other pink areas. You can use human sunscreen products; choose one with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher. It’s okay if your dog licks the sunscreen, because most are not toxic; however, you should avoid sunscreens that contain zinc or PABA. You can also dress your thin-coated dog in a t-shirt and hat to prevent sunburn.

When riding in a car, seat the dog near an air conditioning vent.
When riding in a car, seat the dog near an air conditioning vent.

If you feel your dog has become overheated, take its temperature immediately. If the temperature is elevated, provide cool water for drinking, but don’t force the dog to drink. You can also use cold water to douse or bathe the dog to reduce its temperature.

Many pet stores, both mortar and brick operations as well as online stores, offer a variety of aids to keep your dog cool. These include cooling pads for a dog to rest on, as well as bandannas and vests that cool.

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Discussion Comments

anon191256

Of course it is Illegal to leave your dog in the car during summer if the ac is not running. It's also legal for a person who sees a dog in the car with no AC to break the window to help the dog. I'm from Arizona and couldn't imagine a person would be so dumb to do that.

anon164609

I don't believe it is illegal to leave your dog in the car, but any good owner won't do it for any length of time when the weather is cold or hot out. A car is not insulated well. It is a giant block of metal and fiberglass, etc. which will heat up and cool down quickly, especially when not left in the shade. Shaded areas move during the day as well. Dog's are also fully capable of knocking a car out of gear, releasing a parking break, getting hit by traffic where your car was parked, or hanging themselves by a leash, or collar trying to follow you.

I know some people don't have a choice in bringing their pet with them in the car, so exercise extreme caution when leaving your pet unattended in a vehicle. Animal control has authority to rescue and impound an animal left in a life threatening situation, and this can include taking them from inside your car. If you can't leave your pet safely at home, or keep them with you during the day, try looking into boarding them at a doggie daycare. They will have fun and be supervised while you work, run errands, etc.

anon107320

wow i never knew that. there was a lot of important stuff like that!

anon98288

nice site. good tips.

anon92571

you should never leave a dog in a car for any amount of time, in the shade or not, with the windows cracked or not. The temperature rises to deadly levels within minutes. It is bad advice to say this is OK for a "few minutes"!

anon85997

thank you so much for this info.

anon60762

I'm a telephone contractor and I like to take my dog with me whenever possible, so I'm wondering if it's legal to do so, without facing potential issues relative to city bi-laws. I live in Toronto, by the way. Thank you in anticipation of your response! :)

anon38973

This info was very helpful

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    • Parked cars heat up quickly in the summer.
      By: Gerhard Seybert
      Parked cars heat up quickly in the summer.
    • Taking the dog for a walk early in the day is recommended during the hot summer months.
      By: Mat Hayward
      Taking the dog for a walk early in the day is recommended during the hot summer months.
    • Panting helps dogs deal with heat.
      By: Mat Hayward
      Panting helps dogs deal with heat.
    • It is important to keep plenty of water on hand at all times during the summer.
      By: chalabala
      It is important to keep plenty of water on hand at all times during the summer.
    • When riding in a car, seat the dog near an air conditioning vent.
      By: corepics
      When riding in a car, seat the dog near an air conditioning vent.