These cooling solutions are no sweat!

By Lacey Howard
March 29, 2021
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Beautiful dog standing in front a dog house with windows
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When summertime temperatures soar and humidity makes the air feel thick and downright oppressive—even dangerous—we humans aren't the only ones who suffer. In fact, our canine family members in their furry coats might suffer in the sweltering summer heat even more than we do. But you can help your beloved pup beat the heat with these ideas for cooling a doghouse.

While we humans have many sweat glands all over our largest organ—the skin—to naturally cool our bodies when the heat creeps up, dogs sweat mainly through their paw pads and pant to release heat. The canine self-cooling system is much less efficient than our human system. For this reason, it is important to understand that heat and humidity will affect your pup more than it affects you. A good rule of thumb: if you are uncomfortable, your dog is, too. 

The Humane Society quotes Barry Kellogg, VMD, of the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association on the subject: "It's important to remember that it's not just the ambient temperature, but also the humidity that can affect your pet," he says. "Animals pant to evaporate moisture from their lungs, which takes heat away from their body. If the humidity is too high, they are unable to cool themselves and their temperature will skyrocket to dangerous levels—very quickly."

Keeping your dog safe and healthy in even normal summer temperatures, much less in searing heat and thick humidity, should be a high priority for dog owners whether your dog is indoors or outside.

First and foremost, have cool, clean water available for your dog at all times. All that panting to release body heat leaves him parched and drinking cold water will also help cool his body temperature. Consider adding ice cubes or using a freezable dog bowl or cooling bowl to keep his water nice and cold. You could also offer him DIY frozen dog treats as a cold alternative to his regular rewards.

9 Ways to Keep a Doghouse Cool

After making sure you are doing what you can to help cool your pup's body, focus on keeping his abode nice and chill. Whether your dog is outside with you while you are gardening or grilling up dinner or if he's outside for playtime, he needs a doghouse where he can retreat, refresh, and, well, chill out. Here are nine ways to keep an outdoor doghouse cool in summer.

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dog house sitting under a shady tree
Credit: AlexKosev / Getty

1. Keep your dog’s house in a shady spot

Move your dog’s house to a place where it benefits from the shade of one or more trees, a larger building (like your house), or create shade by erecting a tarp or other shade structure. If your dog’s house is a dark color or has a dark-color roof (like asphalt shingles), it will capture the sun’s heat, making the interior of the house even warmer. Consider painting the house a light color and covering the roof with a light-color tarp or other material that will reflect, rather than absorb, heat.

Happy terrier peeps out of an outdoor playhouse
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2. Use air vents or windows to create a breeze.

If your doghouse has closable air vents, open them! If it doesn’t you can create a vent by drilling holes around the tops of the walls or installing a couple of small vents that are closable (for when winter returns). And while you’re at it, turn the house into the prevailing winds so that the door or window can catch a breeze when it blows.

dog standing at the door looking out of his dog house
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3. Keep the air flowing.

If you have heavy-duty vinyl or another material covering the door and window of the dog house, you might consider removing those items for the summer because they trap body heat inside the dog house and don’t allow for air movement from outside to inside. Of course, if you plan on installing doghouse air conditioning, you want to keep the coverings in place to keep the cool air in.

Gray raised dog bed
Credit: Courtesy of Amazon

4. Step it up.

Raising the doghouse off the ground by a few inches will give you a climate control solution in both hot summers and cold winters. The space between the ground and the floor allows air to flow and will help cool the house on hot days. Similarly, an elevated pet bed help keep pets sleep cooler indoors or out.

Shop now: Coolaroo The Original Elevated Pet Bed, $18; amazon.com

Pink insulation foam for a doghouse
Credit: Courtesy of Amazon

5. Insulate. No, really!

Insulation works to help heat a doghouse in winter, but it also works to keep a doghouse cool in the summer. You can easily DIY this doghouse upgrade by lining the floor, walls, and ceiling with foam board, aluminum foil bubble insulation, or rolls of fiberglass insulation. For safety, install a solid surface like plywood over the insulation to keep your dog from chewing and potentially ingesting the insulation. This permanent upgrade will help a heated and cooled doghouse stay at moderate temperatures, no matter the conditions outside.

Shop now: Pink Insulation Foam, $18; amazon.com

Gray dog cooling mat
Credit: Courtesy of Amazon

6. Ice, ice baby.

In addition to giving your pup ice in his water and as a fun, edible toy, place some frozen water bottles in his doghouse. Laying against the bottles will help him cool off. A cooling mat or pad will give your pup an all-over cool when he lays on the pressure-sensitive, gel-filled mat—no electricity required.

Shop now: Coleman Pressure Activated Comfort Cooling Gel Pet Pad Mat, $33; amazon.com

Cooling dog bed
Credit: Courtesy of Amazon

7. Rethink your doghouse's bedding.

Back when it was cold outside, you may have given your dog a towel, blanket, or rug as a bed. Or you may have covered the floor of the doghouse with pine or cedar shavings. While those choices were cozy for winter, now is the time to remove those body heat-trapping materials for something cooler. Think of changing your bed sheets from flannel to light-weight cotton during warmer months. For his summer bedding, give your dog a cotton sheet (or something similar) or invest in a dog bed with cooling gel technology. 

Shop now: Sealy Lux Quad Layer Orthopedic Dog Bed with Cooling Gel, $88; amazon.com

Silver battery operated cooling fan for doghouse or kennel
Credit: Courtesy of Amazon

8. Cool off with a fan.

Utilize a small doghouse cooling fan to keep air circulating inside. After all, air movement=heat exchange, and that will help your pup stay cooler. Choose a fan that runs on batteries or plugs in, or like the Cool Pup model below, one that can operate on either type of power source. Or, go green with a solar powered fan. The Breeze Solar Fan comes with an eight-foot extension cord so you can put the included small solar panel in a sunny spot while your doghouse stays in the shade.

Shop now: Cool Pup Crate Fan, $28; amazon.com

White portable air conditioner for a doghouse
Credit: Courtesy of Amazon

9. Install doghouse air conditioning.

Having an outdoor doghouse with AC may seem like quite the luxury. But a cooled doghouse doesn’t have to be an overly pricey project. Consider rolling in a portable, floor-standing AC unit that is designed to cool small rooms. Or, if you don’t have the extra floor space inside the doghouse, install a small window-unit air conditioner on the wall. These solutions will require electricity and you may need to do some carpentry for proper installation and venting. And, you’ll want to be sure the house is well insulated and doesn’t have open doorways and windows that allow all that precious cold air to escape.

Shop now: Black + Decker BPACT10WT Portable Air Conditioner, $380; amazon.com