Hot dog! It’s already summer.
It’s second nature for us to wear lighter clothing, spend less time outdoors, drink more water, use more ice, and gravitate toward water activities.
We even keep cool without even thinking about it. Our bodies are furless and we sweat.
But our animals sometimes need a little help to stay comfortable during peak temperature days.
When we start to feel the heat in our own bodies, you can bet our dogs are feeling it too.
When is it Too Hot for a Dog?
If you put a coat on outside during a 90-degree day, how comfortable do you think you would be? What if you put on two more coats? You’d be cooking.
While most of us can go outside or even sit in the car on a 75-degree day and be okay, dogs have a coat they can’t just slip off to be more comfortable.
A dog with a thick coat can start to get hot with temps as low as 70 degrees and it becomes lethal for them at 85 degrees.
Dogs with lighter coats will start to heat up at 75 degrees and the danger zone threshold starts at about 90 degrees.
Puppies, elderly and/or obese dogs are even more vulnerable to heat.
Here’s a handy guide on temperature ranges.
It’s risky to keep your dogs in the car on hot days, even for a short time and even with the windows cracked.
If you can’t leave your dog in the car with the AC running, then take them home.
Signs That Your Dog is Overheated
Dogs are able to cool themselves off by sweating through their paw pads, panting, and instinctively seeking cool places to lie down like under a tree or on a cool floor.
Animals are not always able to sufficiently cool themselves down.
It’s up to humans to monitor their pets for signs of discomfort and distress.
Here are the indications that your dog is getting to be too hot:
- Heavy panting
- Excessive thirst
- Glazed eyes
- Bloody & loose stools
- Bright or dark red tongue/gums
- Weakness or collapsing
- Elevated heart rate
- Abnormally excessive drooling
If you start to see signs that the heat is starting to get to your dog, there are things you can do to help keep him cool.
Removing a Dog’s Hair: Shaving vs. Undercoat Removal
Those of us with long hair will sometimes put hair back in an elastic, cut it short or shave it all off to be more comfortable during the hot months.
While we get a choice, our dogs don’t. You should understand your long-haired dog’s fur composition before deciding on hair removal.
While it may seem that buzzing it all off is a straightforward way to deal with a dog’s oppressive coat, sometimes it can be a bad idea!
For example, a Pyrenees’ overcoat being left intact will help the animal stay cool as the air flow reaches the skin to cool while the hair acts as a sunscreen. We interviewed Deb, a Pyrenees owner and she says that removing the undercoat is the best thing for Jesse.
You can follow Jesse’s adventures on Deb’s Facebook Page, The Travelling Pyr!
Sometimes shaving an animal will cause the hair to grow back thicker and make it hard to manage in the future. This could end up making it even more uncomfortable for your dog.
It’s important to understand the breed of the animal before you break out the clippers and give a buzz cut.
Here’s one resource to determine if your dog’s breed has an undercoat.
Also, keep in mind that some animals will shed their excess hair naturally. For example, a dog with a medium coat will be alright with just a good brushing to help clear out the hair that his body is naturally getting rid of.
Using an undercoat rake can pick up where a regular brush leaves off.
Be mindful of your animal’s grooming needs for the summer months.
Reminder for Dog Walking During the Hot Months
“It’s so hot outside, you could fry an egg on the sidewalk,” is what they say.
To protect your dog’s pads from damage and injury, you may need to make adjustments to your walk routine.
One way to do this is by simply opting for early morning walks. The asphalt will have had plenty of time to cool off overnight. It would be more comfortable for a human as well.
Limiting the path to a grassy area is another way to avoid pad burns.
If neither of the above adjustments can be made, there are products you can put on your pup’s paws to protect their pads. Chewy has several options in stock.
Some dogs are silent about their pain, so you don’t want the walk to end in a horrific discovery that your dog’s paws are burned.
We’d love to safely walk your dog for you! Find out more about our dog walking services here: https://furstarpetcare.com/services/
Food, Water and Your Freezer: More Solutions to Keep Your Dog Cool
Let’s start off with some basic reminders.
- Keep the air conditioner or fans on when you leave your pets at home.
- Provide ample shade for animals left outdoors.
- Make sure your dogs have plenty of water.
- For outdoor dogs, keep drinking water out of the sunlight.
There are water troughs for purchase that will auto-refill with a hose.
You might try products designed to keep water cool for your dog.
For your water-loving dogs, you can keep a small pool or an automatic sprinkler on.
There are a few frosty ways to beat the heat. One idea is to freeze your dog’s favorite rubber toys in a block of ice. This will have them licking at the ice to retrieve their toys.
“Pupsicles” have gotten a lot of buzz. Hit up Pinterest for Pupsicle recipes and ideas!
You might try sharing your chilled watermelon with your dog.
The ways we keep our dogs cool are not that different from how we keep ourselves cool.
Ways to Cool Your Dog Down
There are cool pads with water pockets that can help cool your dog down quickly. Some pads can be kept in the fridge on standby to provide relief to an overheated animal.
Another way to offer a quick cooldown is to drench a towel in cold water and wrap it around your dog.
If your attempts to recover an overheated and dehydrated dog don’t seem to make enough of an improvement, a trip to the vet may be in order. Call your vet with any concerns you might have.
Heatwaves are a reality this time of year, so it’s important to be proactive to stay ahead of dehydration and overheating. Our pet’s comfort matters just as much as our own. Stay cool!
Recap of How to Keep Your Dog Cool During the Summer:
- Keep an eye out for signs of overheating and dehydration in your dog.
- Think twice before shaving your dog’s fur.
- Provide plenty of shade and water.
- Keep drinking water sources full and cool.
- Leave the AC/fans on for indoor pets.
- Protect their paws from hot asphalt and don’t go for walks during a heat advisory.(Go in the early morning instead.)
- Have cooling pads or wet towels available for quick cooldowns.
- Optional: water coolers, wading pools, “Pupsicles” and toys frozen in ice.