Because your pup is panting for a reason.

By Kristi Valentini
June 16, 2021
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Summertime is full of fun adventures for dogs, like chasing squirrels in the backyard, drinking from sprinklers, and going on outings with their pet parents. But like people, pets can get miserably hot when temperatures rise. Worse: Dogs overheat faster than humans, which makes hot weather more dangerous for your pup.

"You can't use yourself as a barometer of when your dog might be getting too hot," Brian Roberts, DVM, a board-certified veterinary criticalist and regional medical director for VCA Animal Hospitals, says. "The only way dogs can regulate heat is through panting. They don't have sweat glands on their skin. Humans, on the other hand, can dissipate heat through sweating and evaporation, which is a very efficient cooling system. So even though you're feeling okay, it might be completely different for your pet."

The best way to protect your pooch from heat exhaustion is to help your pup stay cool, especially during the blazing heat of summer.

cocker spaniel dog shaking off water
Credit: Busybee-CR / Getty

8 Tips for Keeping a Dog Cool in Hot Summer Weather

Here are ways to prevent your pup from overheating when temperatures soar:

1. Provide a cool hangout.

If your dog loves spending time in the backyard, make sure your pooch has a shady spot with a cool surface to lounge on (think: cement, tiles, or even a special dog cooling mat). Indoors, flip on a fan and watch your pup park himself right in front of it.

2. Fill the water bowl. 

Your pup needs a steady supply of water when it's sizzling out. Keep the water bowl filled. Bonus points if you toss in a few ice cubes (just be careful of their chompers if your pooch tends to crunch excessively!).

3. Check on your pooch.

If your dog insists on hanging out in the backyard on a scorching day, set a timer, Roberts recommends. That way you won't forget he's out there and you'll be reminded to regularly check on your pup. Or better yet, hang out and supervise and go inside together after a few minutes of playtime.

4. Bring water on excursions.

Grab a bottle of water for you and another one for your dog when you're going to be out and about. And don't forget a bowl-it makes it far easier for your thirsty pup to drink enough.

5. Don't leave your pup in the car. 

According to The Humane Society of the United States, even if your windows are cracked, the air inside a vehicle can skyrocket to 102 degrees within 10 minutes on an 85-degree day. On hotter days, the temperature inside a car can reach a deadly 140 degrees. It's best to leave your pup at home if you're running errands.

6. Get a dog pool.

Place a dog pool in a shady spot for your pup to wade in. Getting wet will help your dog cool down quickly. But avoid filling it with ice water, which can be shocking. Use room-temperature water instead.

7. Break out the hose or sprinklers.

Another fun way for your pup to cool off is by biting at or splashing around in water from the hose or sprinklers. Just be sure to flush out any standing hot water from the hose before turning it on your pet.

8. Serve frozen treats.

Give your pup a refreshing treat like doggy ice cream, chicken-broth ice cubes, or a chew toy filled with something yummy like peanut butter and freeze. 

Warm, sunny days can be fun for your pup as long as he stays cool and comfortable. Take advantage of the sizzling temps to try new activities like splashing in a dog pool and eating puppy popsicles-it's a great way to create summer fun (and memories!) for you and your pooch.