Ask me where in this world has the best summer weather and I will tell you the Pacific Northwest (but please don’t move there. We’re full. ;). We might get a week or two above 90°F or even over 100°F in Oregon, but it’s rare and short-lived. Plus, we can simply escape by heading to the coast, the mountains, or a swimming hole. We’ve never really had to worry too much about keeping the dogs cool in hot weather there.
Granada, however is a completely different story. The summers here are hot, with temperatures above 90°F every day, and days regularly above 100°F. It’s unbearable for us. Yes, we’re weather wimps and proud of it. We only go out in the morning or evening with the sun is down and stay indoors the rest of the day, in the darkness. The trails aren’t as tree-covered as they are in the Northwest and swimming options are limited. Needless to say, we’ve had a fast lesson in how to keep your dog cool in hot weather.
Hot summer weather can cause serious conditions to your dog, like heat stroke or death, so managing their exposure to the heat is nothing to take lightly. Anything above 75°F can be too much for some dogs. Read on for tips on how to keep your dog cool in hot weather and to learn the warning signs of exposure to excessive heat.
How to Keep Your Dog Cool in Hot Weather
Exercising in Hot Weather
Become a Morning Person
The weather is significantly cooler during the morning hours, particularly just before sunrise. It is the coolest part of the day because the sun has been down for a good several hours compared to the evening when the heat from the day still radiates from the pavement (though evening is also a good time to go for a walk if early alarms are just not your thing).
Personally, the morning is my favorite time of day to run, walk, or hike with the dogs during the summer months because it’s quiet, there are few cars on the roads and people on the trails, and the temperatures are simply lovely.
Seek out Cool Places
Depending on where you’re located, try to walk your dog in the woods of a nearby park or hit the trails, if you can’t get out early in the morning. In the shade, you’ll feel 10-15 degrees cooler than you will walking in direct sunlight.
Also location dependent, the coast is often far cooler than inland temperatures. In Oregon, the coast is most certainly one of the more comfortable places to spend time outdoors when the temperature rises.
Speaking of Oregon, these are a few of our favorite beaches.
Another option to escape the heat, and my personal favorite is to get high. Nooooo not like that. I’m talking elevation. The air can be significantly cooler the more altitude you gain. I’d explain why, but I’ll just go ahead and leave the explaining to the pros.
Keep in mind that dogs can feel the effects of altitude. For more information, head to my blog post that describes how to avoid altitude sickness in dogs.
Place the back of your hand or bare foot on the pavement and hold it there for five seconds. If it’s too hot for you, then it’s too hot for your dog’s pads. This goes for rocks and boulders on sun-exposed trails as well. Walking over hot pavement can burn your dog’s paws.
Avoid walking over metal covers, as those retain heat more than pavement and will most certainly burn your dog’s paws. Even cool temperatures in the high 70s can toast the pavement, so do this test when the temperatures are above 75°F.
If you simply can’t avoid pavement during hot weather, protect your dog’s paws with a wax like Musher’s Secret or with dog booties.
There are tons of dog booties out there. Here are a few that we trust and recommend. For smaller dogs, @robinventures has you covered.
|Our Picks: Dog Booties for Hot Weather||Price|
|Kurgo Step-n-Strobe Dog Boots||$$|
|Ruffwear Grip Trex Dog Boots||$$$|
|Healers Urban Walkers||$$|
Neither Sora nor Laila really cares to play in the water, but the humans do! We’ll often hike to lakes or swimming holes during the summer months so we can all cool off. Even just getting their paws wet or gently pouring water over their fur will cool them down significantly, if they’re not too keen on jumping in the water itself.
Be aware of tides at the beach or currents in rivers. Dogs can and do drown. Also check for algae blooms in lakes, as they can be lethal to dogs. Lastly, like humans, dogs can contract diseases from water like giardia, so avoid allowing them to drink from rivers if you’re not 100% sure that the water is pure.
To learn more about water-borne diseases read Keeping Your Dog Hydrated during Outdoor Activities.
Know the Signs of Heat Stroke in Dogs
Heat stroke can result from leaving your dog in the car on a sunny day with temperatures exceeding 70°F, exercising in hot temperatures, or even sitting outside on hot days, including in the shade.
Heat stroke can cause seizures, coma, cardiac arrest, or death if not treated.
If you notice any of the following signs, your dog may be suffering from heat stroke.
- Rapid heart rate
- Excessive panting
- Heavy drooling and/or thick saliva
- Red or pale gums and tongue
- Extreme fatigue
If you see these symptoms, get your dog indoors immediately and call your vet. You can cool your dog gradually by covering her in cold, wet towels, paying special attention to the belly, chest, and groin area, which cool more quickly. Turn a fan on to circulate the air. Take care not to cool her body to quickly, which can shock the system and cause further damage.
Avoiding Heat Stroke
We swear by cooling vests. They are jackets made out of a light-colored material that deflects the sun and work by drawing heat from your dog’s fur as water evaporates in a middle layer. Simply soak the coat in water, wring it out, and secure it to your pup.
We have used both the Ruffwear Swamp Cooler and the Kurgo Dog Core Cooling Vest and can highly recommend them. These have worked great for us on shorter trail runs (best if you’re near water so you can continue to resoak), hikes, beach trips, and keeping Sora cool in the bike trailer on hot days.
Set Up a Pool Party in Your Backyard
Kiddie pools aren’t just for kiddos, your doggo will love them too! If you can’t get away to seek cooler temps, then bring them to your backyard. Not only is it fun for them (and for you to watch!), it will keep your dog cool in hot weather.
Give Your Dog Cold Treats
I love making summer treats I can share with the pups, like my carob pupsicles or my pal Tori’s frozen watermelon dog treats. Cold treats are a great way to help keep your dog’s body cool when it’s hot outside. You can also add ice cubes to their water bowl.
Do Not Leave Your Dog Alone in the Car
Temperatures inside cars, even when parked in the shade, can reach excessive temperatures quickly. On an 85°F day, the temperature inside can hit 102°F in ten minutes, even with the window cracked. On hot days, opt to leave your dog at home or go places where you can go together.
Always Have Fresh Water Available
Whether exercising or just sitting out in the backyard together, make sure that your dog always has fresh water available. We never leave home on walks, hikes, or runs without a collapsible bowl and insulated water bottle.
Several brands make portable dogs bowls, here are a few of our favorites:
|Our Picks: Best Portable Dog Bowls||Price|
|Dexas Everyday Collapsible Pet Bowl||$$|
|Ruffwear Bivy Collapsible Dog Bowl||$$$|
|Kurgo Zippy Bowl||$|
|Ruffwear Quencher Cinch Top Collapsible Bowl||$$|
Keep Your House Cool
If you leave your dog home during the day while you’re at work, make sure to leave the AC on for him. If you don’t have air conditioning, then keep the house cool by opening all the windows in the morning and then closing them before you leave and blocking the afternoon light with dark curtains. Another option that works great is to use two box fans to circulate the air in a single room. My dad would do this in our house growing up and it’s quite remarkable how much it can cool down a room.
What are some ways that you keep your dog cool in hot weather? Mention them in the comments below!