How to cool down a dog

Ensure your dog stays safe and cool in the sun with these expert tips.

Dog in the sun

by Emily Gilbert |

As we get closer to summer, many people will be happy to see the sun coming back out and the weather warming up, but for dogs, the heat can also bring a few key considerations.

Dogs do not sweat like humans, meaning that they struggle to regulate their body temperature in hot weather. While they can cool down slightly by panting, it is important to look out for the signs of overheating and act to help their furry friends stay cool.

We spoke to the experts at Pets4Homes, the UK’s largest pet rehoming website, for their top tips on how to cool down a dog.

How to tell if your dog is overheating

Although most dogs love to play outside, spending too much time in the sun can cause issues, like heatstroke, which poses a very real health risk. Dogs suffering from heatstroke will often appear listless or unsteady on their feet and may pant excessively in an attempt to cool down. If heatstroke becomes more serious, then there may be other symptoms, including the gums becoming red and tacky or drooling, as well as an elevated heart rate.

Brachycephalic or flat-faced breeds such as pugs or French bulldogs are at particular risk of overheating, so you should make sure to be vigilant in warm weather by allowing for plenty of breaks in the shade, and bringing lots of water for their pup to drink.

At an advanced stage, more obvious effects of heat stroke will become apparent with symptoms including vomiting, seizures or collapse, at which point it is vital to take your dog to a vet as soon as possible.

dog panting

How to cool down a dog

One of the simplest ways to help a dog keep cool is to ensure that they are drinking plenty of water. Try to make sure that your dog’s water bowl is full at all times so that they can drink whenever they want. If you are out and about, you can also take a portable water bowl to keep your dog hydrated.

Frozen lollipops made from weak, unsalted gravy are also a useful way to help dogs lower their temperature, and as they’re a tasty treat, your dog will be likely to scarf them down.

If your dog is playing in your garden, you could also set out a paddling pool to cool them down, while still enabling them to have a bit of safe fun in the sun.

And if they have a thick coat, keeping their fur trimmed is a good way to make sure they don't get too warm, as fur can trap heat and discourage ventilation.

On especially hot days, it’s also a good idea to avoid going out in the middle of the day, when temperatures are at their highest.

Going on walks early in the morning, or late in the evening during the especially warm days is a good routine to have in place to help you and your dog stay cool and comfortable. If you are sitting outside, you should also make sure your dog has a shady place to rest. If you notice your dog is still quite warm, use fans or water misters to help them cool down further.

dog in paddling pool

Useful products to keep dogs cool

There are a number of products specifically made to help dogs beat the heat. Cooling mats, for example, are great for use both indoors and outdoors. They come in two varieties, one that contains a cooling gel within a foam layer, and one that needs to be soaked in water. These mats give dogs the chance to lay down and cool off, though pay attention to when they move away from the mat, as it might be a sign that it’s gotten too warm and needs a refresh.

Cooling jackets can also be helpful, and are typically soaked in water to help dogs cool down, acting to provide a similar function as sweat does for humans. These jackets are usually made from a light, porous material so that they can be breathable for your dog, however, the water does evaporate over time, so check in regularly, especially on hot days. You can also replicate this tool by wrapping a dog in a wet towel, though it’s extremely important to swap out towels for fresh ones once they warm up or dry out to prevent further overheating.

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