10 Comprehensive Strategies to Keep Your Dog Cool This Summer

With summer temperatures in the UK averaging up to 25°C, ensuring your dog’s comfort can be a challenge. As the temperatures in the UK rise, our canine companions can struggle to keep cool. 

This article provides a detailed exploration of ten effective ways to help your dog stay cool, with added emphasis on debunking common myths about canine heat relief.

Provide Constant Access to Fresh Water:

Dehydration is a serious risk for dogs in the heat. The combination of high temperatures and exercise can rapidly deplete their body’s water reserve. 

Ensuring your pet has access to fresh, clean water at all times is essential. This principle applies both at home and when out dog walking. Consider using a portable water dish or a doggy water bottle during walks.

Checking their hydration level regularly can also be beneficial. You can do this by gently lifting the skin on the back of your dog’s neck. If it doesn’t promptly fall back into place, your dog might be dehydrated.

Avoid Peak Sun Hours:

The sun is at its zenith in the UK between 11 am and 3 pm, making these hours the hottest part of the day.

Avoid taking your dog for a walk during this period. Instead, opt for early morning or late evening walks when temperatures are considerably lower. This can significantly reduce the risk of overheating and heatstroke.

Opt for Shady Routes:

When planning your dog’s walk, choose routes that provide plenty of shade. Dogs can overheat quickly under direct sunlight, and the pavement can become scorching, potentially causing burns to your dog’s paw pads.

Walks in the woods, parks with large trees, or routes with built structures providing shade are great options.

Use Cooling Products:

Consider investing in products specifically designed to keep your dog cool. Cooling mats, vests, and bandanas are easily available and come in various sizes. Cooling mats are filled with a gel that absorbs your dog’s body heat, providing a cool surface for them to lie on. 

Cooling vests and bandanas work by evaporation. You wet the product, put it on your dog, and as the water evaporates, your dog’s body temperature is lowered.

Frozen Treats:

Just as humans enjoy a cold ice cream, dogs love frozen treats. There are many dog-safe recipes available online, often using dog-friendly ingredients like peanut butter or yogurt. 

Besides helping them cool down, these frozen treats can also serve as an engaging activity, keeping them mentally stimulated. 

Beware of Hot Cars:

It’s worth mentioning time and again: never leave your dog in a hot car. Even with windows slightly open, a car can heat up to dangerous temperatures within minutes.

This rapid temperature rise can lead to fatal heatstroke in dogs. If you see a dog left in a car on a hot day, notify the authorities immediately.

Limit Rigorous Exercise:

During hot days, your dog’s exercise routine should be adjusted. High temperatures can make it unsafe for rigorous play as this will lead to a very fast increase in body heat.

Instead, aim for more frequent but shorter walks, and encourage low-energy play.

Recognize Heatstroke Signs:

Recognizing the signs of heatstroke in dogs can be a lifesaver. These include excessive panting, disorientation, drooling, rapid heart rate, and even collapse.

If you suspect your dog has heatstroke, seek veterinary help immediately while initiating cooling procedures like applying cool (not cold) water to their body.

Use Sunscreen:

Not all dogs are equal when it comes to sun resistance. Dogs with short hair, white fur, or pink skin are particularly susceptible to sunburn. Using a pet-safe sunscreen can help protect your dog’s skin from harmful UV rays. Remember to apply sunscreen to the most exposed areas, like the nose and ears.

Regular Grooming:

While some breeds benefit from a summer trim to keep cool, it’s important  to think about regular grooming and not to shave your dog’s coat entirely. A dog’s coat acts as a natural insulator against the heat and protects them from sunburn.

A professional groomer (such as our team at HNH Dog) can guide you on the best grooming approach for your particular dog.

Debunking Myths about Keeping Dogs Cool:

One significant misconception is the idea that dogs can tolerate heat just like humans. In reality, dogs cannot sweat through their skin in the same way we can.

Dogs mainly cool down through panting and through a small amount of sweat released through their paws. This makes them more susceptible to overheating. 

Another myth is that shaving a dog’s coat will help them stay cool in summer. Contrary to this belief, a dog’s coat is designed to protect them from heat and sun damage. Shaving off their fur can actually expose them to sunburn and increase their risk of overheating. 

Also, the myth that dogs will naturally stop exercising when they’re too hot can lead to severe consequences. Some breeds, especially working dogs, have been bred to work tirelessly and might ignore their body’s signals to rest. It’s crucial for pet owners to monitor their dog’s activity and enforce rest times.

In conclusion, being a responsible dog owner means ensuring your pet’s comfort and safety during the hot summer months. By following these guidelines and remaining vigilant to their behavior and physical condition, summer can be a time of enjoyment for you and your four-legged friend. As always, when in doubt, consult with a veterinarian for professional advice on your dog’s health.