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Signs of Heat Exhaustion in Your Dog - Keep Your Dog Cool in the Summer

Updated on March 31, 2010
Whitney05 profile image

Whitney has over 10 years of experience in dog training, rescuing and dog healthcare.

Hot Dogs

In the summer, it can get pretty hot, so whether your dog is mainly an outside dog or an inside/outside dog, you want to make sure that you can keep your pooch cool while he is outside. There are many ways that you can keep your pup cool, and if you live in an area with higher temperatures, you want to find the best way to keep your dog cool during the warmer months of the year. You want to protect your dog from heat exhaustion as best as you can.

Just remember that during summer, you want to minimize and limit the amount of sun exposure your dog actually gets. Like humans, dogs can get sunburn and skin cancer, especially dogs with light colored fur or thin coats. You can actually use spray sunscreen on white and light colored dogs and dogs with thin coats when you go to the park, beach, or just at home.

  • Pale gums (or they may be red)
  • Red skin on the inside of the ears
  • Temperature over 104F
  • Thick, sticky saliva
  • Trouble walking
  • Vomiting
  • Weakness

Signs of Heat Exhaustion

  • Bright red tongue
  • Diarrhea
  • Difficulty breathing; gasping for air
  • Disorientation
  • Dizziness
  • Dry skin
  • Excessive panting
  • Fainting

Flickr Image by Oberazzi
Flickr Image by Oberazzi

Keep Dog Cool in the Heat

  • Shade: Shade is very important if your dog has to stay outside for any length of time in the summer heat. You want to make sure that you provide at least one large shady spot so that your dog can stay out of the sun. You can use umbrellas, canopies, and tarps for additional shade.
  • Reduce outdoor exercise: Try to keep daily exercise and outdoor play during the morning and evening when the heat is not at its height. Consider shorter walks and less playtime so that you can potentially prevent overheating.
  • Multiple water bowls: Have more than one available water bowl outside. The best place for a water bowl is in the shade. Having multiple water bowls outside is especially important if you have more than one dog. You also want to make sure to provide fresh water daily and clean out the bowl, or bucket, each week to prevent algae growth. Also consider adding ice cubes to the water bowl to keep the water cool.
  • Do not shave the dog: The dog's coat can actually work as an insulator by keeping the cooler air closest to the dog's skin. Plus, the fur acts as natural sunscreen to preven a sunburn. This is especially important for Huskies and other dogs with double coats.
  • Dog cooling mats: There are various cooling products that you can purchase to help keep your dog cool during the summer heats. The cooling mats are probably the most effective product, as they are great for outside or homes without air conditioning. Some of the cooling mats work with water. These are easy and safe to use.

  • Pools for dogs: Kiddie pools or child's sand boxes filled with water can be a great option to help keep your dog cool in the summer. You can just fill it up halfway, and when needed your dog can lay in the pool as he wishes and when he wishes.
  • Keep the dog inside: Every chance that you get, leave your dog inside. If that means that you need an indoor kennel to protect your dog from getting into something harmful and to protect your home from your dog destroying it when you're not around, then this may be the best option to keep your dog cool during the day. Although, the dog kennel may not fit with your décor, it can definitely potentially save your dog's life during the height of summer.
  • Minimize time outside for young, old, and small dogs: If you have a puppy, small dog, or an elderly dog, you should really consider indoor means to keep your dog cool. Small dogs, young dogs, and old dogs, do not fair well when left outside for hours at a time during heat. Even if you are able to provide shade, water, and cooling products, it's just not safe to leave young, old, and small dogs outside in the heat for extended periods of time.
  • Minimize time outside unattended: And remember that you do not want to leave your dog unattended for long periods while outside during the summer. When unattended for extended periods of time, you cannot watch the water level in the water bowl, and you cannot ensure that your dog is not overheating.
  • Never leave a dog in the car: You never, ever, ever want to leave your dog in a locked or unlocked care, not even for a minute while you grab one item at the store, during summer (or winter).


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    • ethel smith profile image

      Eileen Kersey 8 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      We just finished a mini heatwave in the UK and one of my dogs, in particular, struggled. He has a heart condition. I found that filling a water spray bottle designed for plants was great for giving him a fine mist of cool water.

    • Staci-Barbo7 profile image

      Staci-Barbo7 8 years ago from North Carolina

      Thanks, Whitney. Better to err on the side of caution than to invite tragedy.

    • dsletten profile image

      dsletten 8 years ago from United States

      Good tips. The tip about not clipping or shaving your dog in the summer is very helpful. We usually just brush our dog everyday to get the fur that is shedding. Dogs natually thin out their fur for summer. Thanks.

    • Whitney05 profile image

      Whitney 8 years ago from Georgia

      Staci, with the windows cracked half way, your dog could get spooked and sneak out. I've seen large dogs get nervous and anxious and escape teeny holes and areas. It's really not safe, and it's illegal in most states to leave your pet in the car at any point in the year for any amount of time.

    • Staci-Barbo7 profile image

      Staci-Barbo7 8 years ago from North Carolina

      Whitney, I have a question about the last word of caution - not leaving a dog unattended in a car even during winter.  I have seen people leave dogs in the car, usually at the grocery store or at a pharmacy, with the windows partly rolled down.  Is it inherently dangerous to leave a dog for a few minutes with windows rolled down halfway if the temperature INSIDE the car does not exceed 75 or 80 degrees once maximum greenhouse effect is reached, like in the spring, fall, and winter?  Where I live, a good number of men will also carry their dogs with them in their pickup trucks (the dog usually stays in the bed of the truck).  Most people who do either genuinely love their pets and just like to have their pets with them. Harming them is the furthest thing from their minds. Thanks.

    • Stickyfoot profile image

      Stickyfoot 8 years ago

      These are some great suggestions. I know my husky hates the heat, but give her a big pile of snow and she is in heaven!

    • yamanote profile image

      yamanote 8 years ago from UK/Spain

      great tips. if you have a bulldog, pug or other breed with heredity breathing problems then taking care in the heat is even more important