Staying Cool with Your Dog in the Summer

We may be in the heart of winter but, in case you hadn’t noticed, seasons tend to change, and
it won’t be long before we’re in the thick of oppressive Summer heat and humidity. We wrote
another post about how to keep your dog warm, but what do you do in the Summer, when all
of the sudden the tables are turned? Unlike Winter, where some places are hit harder than
others, pretty much everywhere across the country gets hot enough to be concerned about
your dog’s wellbeing. So, what are the right (and wrong) things to do to make sure your friend
stays comfortable, healthy, and safe?

Let’s start with the two basics: Keep your house cool and never leave your dog alone in a car.
You may think that a quick run into the store for even a few minutes will be okay, but it’s easy
to lose track of time and many people don’t realize just how fast a car heats up in the sun –
especially to an animal covered in fur. Keeping your house cool can also be easier for some
people than others. Not every home has air-conditioning but if you do, run it with the curtains
closed to maximize efficiency. If you don’t have AC, do you best with open windows and fans to
keep a breeze flowing through the house. You won’t get it as cool as an air-conditioned house,
but it should be enough to keep it at a safe temperature.

There are other things you can do for your dog in the Summer as well. Especially if the little guy
is home alone without AC, you can buy a cooling vest or a cooling mat. These will provide a little
more relief on the hottest of days and are not especially expensive. You can also prepare cool
treats, like ice cubes with snacks frozen inside. These won’t only cool off your pet, they’ll keep
him busy and entertained as well.

The good news is that, even with the breeds that do the worst in hot weather, most of your
strategy can involve simple changes in procedure. Don’t go on long walks during the hottest
parts of the day, stay in the shade when you are outside, and bring plenty of water with you
everywhere. If it’s something you would do to keep yourself cool, odds are it will work for your
pet too. It’s also important to remember that dogs do not cool off as easily as humans do. In
addition to being covered in fur or hair, dogs can’t sweat from their skin. While you might be
uncomfortable but generally fine on a very hot or humid day, your dog could be doing
considerably worse. It’s so important to remember this fact when out on walks or hikes.

If you’ve done all these things your dog should be absolutely fine. But it never hurts to know
some of the warning signs of heat stroke in dogs. Heavy panting that doesn’t ever stop, a rapid
heartbeat, weakness, dizziness, and a very dark tongue, can all be signs your dog is overheating.
If you’ve gotten to that point, as always, you should go straight to the vet.