Ahhh, summertime. That lovely time of year when we can enjoy being outdoors with our favorite furry buddies, friends, and family. Your dog no doubt loves getting to spend more time in the sunshine, exploring new and old territory. (And you get to enjoy peace of mind thanks to their GPS dog tracker). But the risk of heat stroke in dogs is also higher in summer. Learn how to keep dogs cool in summer – and safe from dangerous overheating – with these tips.

1) Provide unlimited access to water.

Dogs do sweat – and lose water – mainly through glands on their paw pads1. The more water they lose, the thicker their blood gets. Our furry friends can lose up to 1 liter of water from their hackles. That’s why it’s extremely important that your dog has unrestricted access to plenty of water. Moreover, a dog’s water reserve is only about ¼ of the human water reserve, so even more reason to make sure your dog has enough water to drink. Don’t forget, without enough water, they will suffer and get sick – especially when it’s warm.

A dog can manage a long time without food, but not without water.

To avoid dehydration, always bring fresh water when you go outside and offer it to your pup at least every thirty minutes.

The amount of water always depends on:

  • your dog’s activity level
  • their size and age
  • the weather

As a general rule, an average dog needs to drink between 55 to 110 mL per kg per day. Don’t forget to add a bit more when it’s really hot! 

Find out how much water a dog really needs here.

2) Never leave your dog alone in the car.

During summer, a car left outside in the sun can turn into a real oven in no time. Even at outdoor temperatures of only 24°C, your car will heat up to about 31°C in less than 10 minutes. Not to mention that after 30 minutes in the sun, the temperature in your car can easily rise up to 40°C!

That means leaving the car’s windows open and providing something to drink for your dog are by far not enough to protect your dog from a heat stroke. Never leave your dog alone in the car, since this can turn into a worst-case scenario for your four-legged friend!

3) Protect from sunburn.

Many people don’t know this, but our furry friends are just as susceptible to painful sunburns and skin cancer as we are. Some dogs are more likely to get burned by the sun, while others have natural protection.

White or light-colored pets tend to have fair skin underneath the fur and a greater potential for sun damage (just like people with blonde hair). Hairless breeds, or breeds with thin hair, are also at risk for sunburn. All dogs, regardless of hair thickness, have risk areas such as the nose, face, and ears. The belly is also quite open to sunburn as it is covered with thin and blonde hair.

The best way to keep your dog from getting a sunburn is simply to provide shade. All you need is a big umbrella at the beach, a tree at a park or a roof for your terrace.

dog laying in shade under picnic table in summer

4) Avoid walking in hot temperatures.

In the hot season, it may be best to avoid going out for a walk in the middle of the day when the sun is at its strongest. If your schedule doesn’t allow any other option, make sure to choose routes with plenty of shade – for example, through parks and woods – which make it easier to avoid sun radiation.

A dog’s normal body temperature is between 38°C and 39°C. If your dog gets any warmer, they may have trouble cooling themselves, which can be fatal:

40°C body temperature already means a fever for your dog. 41°C or more is dangerous and can even cause irreversible health damage, and even be fatal2.

5) Always provide shade.

Whether you’re working in the garden, or on a beach holiday, your dog should always have the opportunity to sit in the shade on a hot summer day. Most dogs will naturally choose to sit in a shady spot if given the option, but especially on warm days, it’s good to be aware of your dog’s whereabouts at all times.

A GPS dog tracker can help you to stay on top of your dog’s location and safety – the app will let you know if they run away, or stop moving.

dog running through the water

6) Let your dog swim.

In the best case scenario, on hot days, your dog can splash around, play, and most importantly stay cool in a pool or natural body of water. Some dog breeds love being in the water, while others may be more reluctant. In either case, it’s a good idea to encourage your dog to get wet to cool down, even if it’s just using the sprinkler in the yard. Bonus: your kids will have fun too!

Can My Dog Swim? A Guide To Safe And Fun Swimming With Dogs!

Life jackets for dogs

If you have a pool or go swimming at the beach, a life jacket is a good and important investment. Especially smaller breeds, older dogs and puppies might not have the strength to get out of the water once they’ve fallen in.

Even though dogs are good swimmers, they can drown just as easily as humans.

Anything can happen in water and it pays off to be prepared. Life jackets for dogs are available in many different sizes so make sure to choose one that fits your pet perfectly.

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7) Avoid hot surfaces.

Just like us, dogs have sensitive feet that can burn or get injured if the surface they are walking on is too hot. Avoid letting your dog walk on hot sand, concrete, or other high temperature surfaces. This is especially important during the dog days of summer, or the hottest days of the year3.

You can also get some summer shoes for dogs to keep your furry pal’s paws safe! And don’t forget; paw care is year round. So make sure you take good care of those little paws in winter too.

8) Try summer treats for dogs.

In summer, your dog will enjoy a cold summer treat just as much as you do! You can buy pre-made cold dog treats, or make them at home yourself. Our favorite summer treats for dogs include ‘pupsicles’, frozen Kongs, and anything you can make at home in an ice-cube tray. The options are limitless, and your dog will be sure to thank you with kisses.

dog eating watermelon

9) Use cool dog beds for summer.

Another great way to keep dogs cool in summer is to provide cool bedding. Nowadays many fancy dog bed options exist, including electric cooling beds, elevated beds, and some with a cooling gel layer. There are also cooling beds for traveling with your dog. If you can’t get a new dog bed for any reason, wetting old towels and letting your dog lay on them will help your pup cool off!

10) Avoid giving your dog a “fur”-cut

As the weather gets hotter, your haircuts might get shorter. But while this might be a great new look for you, a “fur”-cut is a terrible idea for your dog. So if you’ve ever considered shaving your dog’s fur during the summer months, here’s why it’s better to keep the clippers away.

In a nutshell: your dog’s fur actually works like a built-in heating and cooling system. So in cold winter months, it lies flat against their bodies to keep them warm. In hot summer months, your dog’s fur stands upright instead, letting air flow through to keep them cool. As a result, this fur actually prevents them from overheating when it gets warm outdoors.

Seems counter-intuitive, right? But this is exactly why shaving off or trimming your dog’s fur can actually prevent them from staying cool in summer. It also increases their risk of sunburn and vulnerability to allergens, insects, or garden products like snail bait – all of which can be toxic for them. Plus, if your dog’s fur doesn’t grow back or regrows in an abnormal pattern, it can make it difficult for them to regulate their body temperature both in summer and winter.

So if your buddy already has thin or shaved fur, make sure to use plenty of unscented, dog-friendly sunscreen before you head outdoors. Like, for example, HOWND’s Skin, Nose, and Paw Balm which is a vet-approved product. Else, you’re best off keeping the haircuts for yourself – let your dog’s furry cooling system do all the hard work instead.

11) Monitor your dog’s activity.

If temperatures are already dangerously hot outside, too much physical activity can make matters worse for your dog’s health. While it’s still important to walk your dog every day, your dog shouldn’t exert themselves too much in hot weather. One way to keep dogs cool during summer is to monitor their activity level with a dog GPS tracker and activity monitor. With it, you can make sure your dog gets enough exercise to stay healthy, but not so much that they become dangerously overheated.

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Summary: How to keep dogs cool in summer

When temperatures rise, both people and dogs are susceptible to overheating and heat stroke, a potentially fatal condition. So in addition to keeping your dog cool using the tips above, it’s important to know the signs and symptoms of heat stroke in dogs. In summer, provide your dog with plenty of water and shade, cool places to rest, and keep exercise light if possible. Your dog will appreciate any chance to get wet, summer dog shoes, a life jacket, and summer treats for dogs too! And whatever you do this summer, don’t forget your GPS dog tracker – to always keep tabs on your fur-baby.

For more inspiration on how to keep dogs cool in summer, check out the video below. Wishing you a pleasant summer from the whole team at Tractive!

Like what you’ve read? Share these useful summer tips with your dog-loving friends!