Keeping Cool This Summer
Summer is almost here and that means it’ll soon be hot.
Us dogs, like humans, can suffer from heatstroke, sunburn, organ failure, and even death if we get too hot. Remember that we don’t sweat the way you do; 90% of the way we cool ourselves off is by panting, and that can do only so much.
All this to say, it’s important to keep your dog cool when the temperature rises. Here’s how.
Know the signs of heatstroke in dogs and take action
First, you need to know what it looks like when your dog is overheating. You will notice one or more of these signs:
- Excessive, rapid panting
- Drooling a lot
- Thick saliva
- Very red gums
- Fast heartbeat
- Muscle tremors
- Staggering and weakness
If you think your dog’s overheating, put cool washcloths on their belly and underarm areas where there’s no fur. Provide water but don’t force them to drink. If you’re in any doubt, call your vet or the closest emergency vet, and bring your dog in for evaluation.
Some dogs are more likely to overheat than others. Greyhounds like me and other dogs with long snouts are better able to handle the heat. Dogs with short noses, like bulldogs and pugs, have a harder time cooling themselves off and are more likely to overheat. Older dogs and overweight dogs are also less adept at handling the heat.
Give cold water and cold treats
Water should always be available at home, and when you’re out in the heat, you can bring a collapsible water bowl and bottle of water along so your dog always has a drink handy.
I personally go crazy for frozen treats like doggy ice cream and ice pops, and I know I’m not alone. Stock up this summer from the store or make your own.
Get a temperature-controlled bed
When it’s hot out, my owners Meg and Drew get out my Snoozer Outlast Dog Bed which uses technology to manage heat and regulate temperature so I don’t get too hot while I’m relaxing (which is most of the time). These thick, comfy beds also help control odor, too.
Take a dip
Lots of dogs love a good swim. Taking a dip in the ocean, a lake, or a pool is a great way for dogs to cool off.
I’m not much for swimming but I do like lounging in the inflatable kiddie pool in the backyard.
Skip the shave
If your dog’s fur is very thick, you may be tempted to shave it all off to cool them down in the summertime. Don’t do it. As odd as it seems, dogs with double coats actually regulate temperature better when they have their fur, as it protects them from too much cold and too much heat. Plus, if you shave your dog down, it will leave them more vulnerable to sunburn, too. (Brushing out any mats and tangles is a good idea, however.)
Check the ground first
Before going for a sidewalk stroll, touch the ground with your hand and make sure it’s not scorching. Dogs can burn the delicate pads on their paws when the asphalt is too hot. If it is, just walk in the grass, or put booties on your dog’s paws.
Leave the AC on – at home and in the car
Don’t leave your dog in the car, even if you leave the windows down a crack – this is a sure way to overheat your dog. Leave your dog at home while you run errands or if you absolutely must bring them with you, leave the air conditioning on. (You can bring a second set of keys or get remote start installed in your car so you can turn it on from the outside, a good idea if you and your dog hit the road often.) If you leave the house during the day, leave the AC on to a reasonable level and/or turn on fans so your dog can stay cool.
Have fun this summer
Now that you know how to keep your dog cool, get out there and enjoy the weather and have fun with your nest bud this summer.
‘Til next time, Beckley
Beckley was a racing greyhound until he retired at 2 1/2 years old and was adopted off the track. He's super fast when he wants to be, but he actually prefers to take it easy, napping on the most comfortable bed he can find!