Poppy takes a dip - photo by Good Doggy Guide
Our dog, Poppy, takes a tentative dip in the doggy paddling pool

Keeping your dog cool in hot weather

The temperatures have finally started to heat up, haven’t they? So, I thought it was probably a good time to write about the importance of keeping your dog cool in hot weather. And of course, share some neat tricks and tips to help do it!

Our beagle Poppy has a ridiculously thick coat for such a small dog, so I’m sure that doesn’t help her in this weather. And as soon as it gets above 15 °C in full sun, Poppy starts to struggle. But regardless of breed and size, all dogs struggle with the heat.

Similarly to humans, dogs can suffer from heatstroke. And it’s worth knowing how to spot the signs that your dog is in trouble. According to the RSPCA’s website, the signs include heavy panting, drooling (more than normal), and drowsy or lethargic behaviour. And more worryingly, collapsing or vomiting.

If you think your dog is suffering from heatstroke, you should move your dog to a cool spot, out of the sun. And start to cool your dog down slowly with the aid of with cool water, fans and wet towels. Try to get your dog to drink small amounts of water. And you should contact your vet asap.

It’s not just heatstroke that can be a problem in hot weather. Dogs can easily burn the soft pads on their paws. If your dog is refusing to walk, limping or licking at their paws, it could be a sign they’ve got poorly pads. Keeping your dog off the pavements during the hottest part of the day, will help protect your dog’s paws from burning.

How to keep your dog cool in hot weather

Being able to spot the warning signs is good. But taking steps to prevent problems in the first place is even better. So, what can you do to help your beloved pooch stay cool in hot weather?

First, change the times of day you walk your dog. Ideally you want to head out early in the morning before the sun is high in the sky and when the temperatures are still reasonable. Pavements will also be cooler. And then again, later in the evening when it has cooled off.

Make sure there is always a good supply of cold water available for your dog throughout the day. And ensure your dog has a cool, shady spot to chill out in during the peak temperatures of the day.

And it’s worth saying that it’s not just cars that can get unbearably hot for dogs. Places such as conservatories and caravans can also reach ridiculously high temperatures. So, avoid leaving your dog in these types of places.

Chill out tips!

But aside from getting the basics right, what else can you do? Well, there are lots of tips you can try, so here’s just a few:

  • We brush Poppy every day. It takes out a lot of her excess fur, helping her to stay cool. We use a KONG ZoomGroom for this. It’s surprising just how much loose fur we remove!
  • Create a shaded area in your garden. Trees, parasols and shade sails can all help create suitable cover and the ideal chill out zone for both you and your pooch.
  • Popping an ice cube in your dog’s bowl can help keep the water nice and chilled.
  • And you could encourage your dog to stay hydrated with a water fountain — some dogs, like ours, prefer to drink from running water.
  • Making your own doggy ice lolly is another good idea. Below is a recipe from Battersea Dogs & Cats Home:

If you fancy doing a bit more to aid your dog’s comfort during the hot weather, you could try one of these toys and accessories too!

  • Doggy paddling pools are a great way to keep your pooch cool at home, especially if your dog is a water lover. We had to tempt Poppy into hers by throwing in a few kibbles first!
  • Cooling mats are another great alternative, especially if you don’t have space for a pool. If you’re saving money, get an old towel and soak it in cold water instead.
  • And if your dog usually loves to play, it can be hard for them when it gets hot. So, perhaps a cooling toy may help to keep them amused?

Out and about with your dog in summer

Even going for walks early, you may sometimes need to carry water for your dog. We take a bottle of water and use a collapsible bowl, which easily tucks into our backpacks. But I’ve also seen this cool drinking gadget, which I’m tempted to try.

Cooling dog jackets could be useful too, if you can’t avoid the heat completely. Alternatively, you may find a cooling bandana helpful. Ruffwear sell some good options for dogs. As do Animed, with this Animate cooling dog coat.

Carrying some soothing paw balm (or Vaseline) may be a good idea too, if you’re away from home. Be:Loved produce natural nose and paw balms, as well as sun protection balm. But there are plenty of similar dog products out there.