Keeping Your Dogs Cool in the Summer

As we come out of May gray and June gloom, San Diego is gearing up for summer in all its Southern California splendor.  While we are treated with gorgeous weather all year round, these are some of the hottest months and higher temperatures raise special concerns regarding your dog’s health and safety.  The following video highlighting Snug Pet Resort and AbsoluteK9 from Fox 5 San Diego, and blog below, review some warm weather considerations and tips on how to keep your dog cool in the summer!

Compared to people, dogs are not very efficient at staying cool.  As such, they are more susceptible to overheating.  With a normal body temperature higher than ours, 100 to 102.5 compared to our 98.6, dogs also have smaller sweat glands (in their paws and nose) and pant to cool down.  In warmer months, it is particularly important to provide your dog with fresh water at all times, as drinking cool water helps them to cool down.

If you dog will be outside, either in the backyard or on an outing, try to maximize time spent in the shade and bring your dog in during the hottest hours of the day.  Dogs should not be confined to a sunny area and left alone on hot days.

Exercise your dog in the early morning or later at night, when the temperature is cooler and the sun is not so strong.

Minimize your dog’s time in the car. While it is excellent that dogs are more a part of our everyday lives (i.e. coming along on errands, family vacations, etc), it can be deadly for dogs to remain unattended in a car on a hot day.  Never leave your dog unattended in a car on a hot day. Parking your car in the shade and cracking the windows is not enough to prevent the car from becoming dangerously hot.  On a hot day, the temperature in a car can rise 40 degrees per hour, with an 80 percent increase in the first 30 minutes.  That means an 85-degree day can quickly create a 102-degree car during your run into the grocery store!

If you must leave your dog in the car, bring two keys with you: one to leave the car running with the air conditioner on for the dog, and the other to unlock the door when you return.

Be aware of the signs of heatstroke in your dog:

  • Panting hard
  • Staggering gait
  • A dazed or disorientated look
  • Rapid heart beat
  • Purple or deep red colored gums or tongue, or both
  • Vomiting
  • Listlessness
  • Restlessness

If you notice any of these symptoms of overheating and heat exhaustion in your dog, slowly reduce their body temperature by taking them into the shade or an air-conditioned room, applying cold packs, and giving small amounts of cool water or ice to lick.  Call your vet immediately.

Some dog breeds are more susceptible to heat injuries, including:

  • Chows
  • Malamutes
  • Huskies
  • American Eskimos
  • Newfoundlands
  • Bulldogs,
  • Pugs,
  • Shar-peis
  • Boston terriers

For the first five breeds on this list, those with double coats and those bred for colder climates, a good summer haircut and regular brushing are essential in the summer.  Regular brushing helps to reduce extra heat-storing fur and is recommended for all dogs in the summer months.  Don’t have your dog shaved down, however, as this can increase the risk of sunburn.

Protect your dog from sunburn

While many people don’t realize a dog can get sunburned, it is very common, especially in pale and shorter haired dogs.  Any dog can suffer sunburn on their nose, the tips of the ears, the groin area, and the inside of the legs.  The latter two areas can get burned even when a dog is walking, as the sunlight can reflect onto their underside off beach sand and sidewalks.  Use a sunscreen approved for use on animals on your dog’s nose and ear tips.  You can try to put it on their underside but they may lick it off.

Protect your dog’s paws

Dogs’ paws can get burned on virtually any surface on a hot day, including sidewalks, asphalt and sand.  You can determine whether or not it is safe to walk on a surface by feeling the ground first with your hand.  If it is too hot for your hand, it’s too hot for your dog to walk on.

A beach “break”

Experts recommend leaving your dog at home on beach day unless you can assure a shady spot is to be found there.  The hot sand reflects the sun and can overheat your dog (and you!) quickly.  If you do decide to enjoy the beach on a hot day, make the trip short and make sure you have fresh water along, as salt water and the sun can dehydrate your dog.

Pool Duty

Like children, dogs are at risk of drowning in pools when left unattended.  Make sure to secure the pool area to keep your dog safe.  It is wise to teach your dog how to swim and where the steps and/or ladder are located in case she does jump in.  Always supervise your dog if you let them play in the pool.

That said, kiddie pools and sprinklers are excellent ways to help your dog cool off in the summer.

For more ways to keep your dog happy and healthy in the summer, contact our dog experts at Absolute K9 today.


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As Seen and Heard on…

  • KFMB Channel 8
  • Channel 10
  • Fox 6
  • Animal Planet
  • Star 100.7
  • Rick Roberts KFMB
  • KCBQ
  • San Diego Magazine
  • Ranch and Coast Magazine
  • Trainers for show Fear Factor on NBC