Updated: Sep 18
Summer is in full swing here in Seattle! Unfortunately, many of us don't have air conditioning in the Pacific Northwest. Our dogs get hot too! Here are 10 ways to keep your dog cool this summer, plus some warning signs and added risks to look out for.
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10 Ways to Keep your Dog Cool
1. Water Play
Playing in a kiddie pool, sprinklers, or splashing around in a lake can help keep your dog cool this summer. Try to keep your dog from drinking from stagnant water as this will increase their risk of intestinal parasites such as giardia.
2. Make Popsicles
Dogs enjoy a frozen treat too! You can freeze chicken or beef stock in ice trays or in a popsicle mold. Be sure to check the ingredients for additives such as onions, garlic, and added sodium. Often, bone broth will be free from these potentially toxic ingredients.
3. Take Walks Earlier or Later in the Day
The hottest part of the day is in the afternoon. Try taking your dog for their daily walk in the early morning or in the evening when the heat is not at its peak.
4. Try Cooling Gear
If you cannot avoid going outside in the heat of the day, try some cooling gear! Several brands make specialized cooling vests, collars, and capes for dogs, or you can tie a wet towel to your dog's collar like a cape. Dogs do not sweat through their skin like we do, so this will help keep their body temperature down.
5. Provide Extra Shade and Water
Believe it or not, a shaded area can be 10 to 15 degrees F cooler than in the sun. Providing extra shade in your yard at home can keep your dog comfortable during the day. In addition, dogs need extra water during hot weather just like we do. Provide plenty of cool water to drink throughout the day. Placing water in a shaded area will encourage them to rest there.
6. Keep them Groomed
It may seem obvious to get your dog's hair cut as summer rolls around. However, it is also important to keep them brushed and clean. Matted and compacted fur can trap heat, making your dog feel even hotter. Be careful not to cut your dog's fur too short; fur is a natural sunscreen for them!
*Note: if you have a double coated dog, do NOT shave them! A double coat actually helps keep them cool in the summer as well as warm in the winter. Consult a veterinarian and a professional groomer for the right haircut for your pup.
7. Provide Fans and Makeshift AC
Fans, both indoors and outdoors, can lower temperatures up to 10 degrees F. That can make a big difference! When possible, use fans wherever your dog is relaxing. If you don't have air conditioning, you can create a makeshift AC system by placing frozen gallons of water in front of fans. It will feel nice for you too!
8. Keep them Occupied Indoors
Puzzles, snuffle boxes, and frozen Kong toys can keep your dog entertained indoors until it's safe for them to go back outside. You can even DIY with shredded paper, boxes, toilet paper tubes, and other materials from around your home.
9. Remember their Feet!
Dogs have paw pads that are sensitive to the heat and they can burn from asphalt and sidewalks. Test walkways by placing your hand on the ground for 10 seconds. If it's too hot for you, it's too hot for them! If hot pavement is unavoidable, try hot weather shoes or booties for your pup to protect their paws.
10. Keep Body Types in Mind
Some dogs are more susceptible to overheating than others. Flat-faced breeds (brachycephalic), large breeds, and overweight dogs are much more sensitive to the heat than others.
Signs of Heat Stroke in Dogs
If your dog starts exhibiting any of these warning signs, get them to a veterinary ER immediately:
Dry or sticky gums and tongue
Abnormal gum color
Lethargic or disoriented
A heatstroke is a medical emergency and needs to be treated immediately. You can help lower your dog's body temperature with a wet towel over their body on the way to their veterinarian. Use cool, not cold, water as freezing cold water on an overheated dog can put them into shock or cause their body temperature to drop too low.
If you need another cool activity for your pup, we have air conditioning here at Martha's Garden. Enroll your pup for daycare or pop in for a cold drink during our indoor dog park hours.
Summer can be a fun time for dogs who love water and swimming, especially in areas that see long winters like here in Seattle. Remember these tips on keeping your dog cool this summer and stay safe!