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How to keep your dog cool

Updated on October 13, 2014
GollyGearHope profile image

Hope Saidel is co-owner of Golly Gear, a bricks-and-mortar and online shop featuring fun, affordable and practical small dog products

Teddy (French Bulldog) in his Cooling Vest
Teddy (French Bulldog) in his Cooling Vest

Hot weather is a killer - literally!

All dogs can be victims of heat stroke, although flat-faced dogs like my own French Bulldogs are at even greater risk. Unlike people, dogs don't sweat all over - they sweat only through the bottoms of their paws. If those paws are on hot pavement - no cooling. Dogs' primary cooling method is through panting and flat-faced breeds have shorter area to exchange hot internal air with cooler (hopefully!) outside air.

It's vital to watch your dog for signs of heat stroke, which include (according to Pet



Excessive drooling (ptyalism)

Increased body temperature - above 103° F (39° C)

Reddened gums and moist tissues of the body

Production of only small amounts of urine or no urine

Sudden (acute) kidney failure

Rapid heart rate

Irregular heart beats


Stoppage of the heart and breathing (cardiopulmonary arrest)

Fluid build-up in the lungs; sudden breathing distress (tachypnea)

Blood-clotting disorder(s)

Vomiting blood (hematemesis)

Passage of blood in the bowel movement or stool

Black, tarry stools

Small, pinpoint areas of bleeding

Generalized (systemic) inflammatory response syndrome

Disease characterized by the breakdown of red-muscle tissue

Death of liver cells

Changes in mental status


Muscle tremors

Wobbly, incoordinated or drunken gait or movement (ataxia)

Unconsciousness in which the dog cannot be stimulated to be awakened

If you think your dog is suffering from heat stroke - get to a veterinarian!

En route to the vet, you can start the cooling process by spraying cool, not cold, water on the dog, wrapping him in damp towels (again, use cool water, not cold), wetting the dog completely in cool water, and/or using a fan. Pay particular attention to the dog's foot "armpits," groin and feet - cooling these points can reduce the dog's temperature more quickly.

Don't shock the dog's system with cold water or ice - it can lead to further health problems. Have an emergency veterinarian's number handy in your cell phone and seek advice immediately and while on your way.

You can help prevent heat stroke by keeping your dog cool. Be mindful of the temperature and limit physical activity during the hottest parts of the day - or if excessive heat warnings are in effect for your area. And never, ever leave your dog alone in a hot car. Your dog's life may depend on it!

ChillyBuddy Cooling Jacket
ChillyBuddy Cooling Jacket

Cool Coat

If you're planning a long walk or extended outing with your dog, consider getting a Chillybuddy Cooling Jacket. Just wet the Cooling Jacket all over with water, fasten it on your pup with the hook-and-loop closures. Evaporation and reflection cool off your dog. The Cooling Jacket is a patent pending design of cool mesh inside - just dampen it to start the evaporative cooling - and light-weight reflective material on the outside. Made in the U.S.A.

Popware bowls
Popware bowls

Keep a cool drink handy

A supply of cool, clean water during exercise is as important for your dog as it is for you! The Collapsible Travel Cup from Popware comes with a handy quick-release clip and folds down to just half an inch.

Designer Pet Cot
Designer Pet Cot

Cool cot for outdoor lounging

The center mesh of this foldable, Designer Cot allows air to circulate and cool your dog from all sides. Perfect for the backyard, camping, by the pool, or even keep one handy in an RV. Shouldn't your dog have his own summer lounger?

Robbie (Border Terrier) at Golly Gear for a Life Jacket fitting
Robbie (Border Terrier) at Golly Gear for a Life Jacket fitting

Life Jacket for water safety

On a boat, in a swimming pool, or at the shore - be sure your small dog is safe in the water with a Life Jacket. Fully adjustable with a handy loop to help you lift your dog from the water.

Cooling Vest fro Hurtta
Cooling Vest fro Hurtta

Cooling Vest

Uniquely among cooling garments, the Cooling Vest is designed to be worn while the dog is active, rather than just while recovering from activity in warm weather. The Cooling Vest is activated by a water rinse and can be refreshed any time with another soaking.

Roc on his 12th birthday
Roc on his 12th birthday

Flexible Cooler Packs to keep my guy cool

We've been using these flexible, reusable cooling ice packs for years.

They're great for lining a big cooler, for wrapping a single item that needs to stay cold, even for icing an injury, bump, or bruise.

The most recent use, perhaps the most important we've discovered, was keeping my little old dog comfortable. Roc was my 12-year-old, 11 lb. Brussels Griffon boy. He was a happy little guy - he yelled at us if we're taking too long with his meals, he loved watching sports (especially baseball) on television, and, unfortunately, he had some serious health problems.

Roc was on several prescription medicines and, as a result, almost always hot. If he was awake, chances were he was panting. Most of the time it wasn't a problem - he toddled over and got a drink, then went right back to bossing the other, bigger, younger dogs around. The problem was in the evening, when the family wass settling down to relax. Roc couldn't get comfortable, couldn't find a place for himself, was panting, restless, and uneasy.

When I finally realized the cause of the problem, I got this "cube sheet" from the freezer, put it over an old beach towel (to absorb any condensation), and under a little berber dog bed - a ice-pack sandwich for Roc to lie on top of. And since I came up with this solution - our evenings were peaceful, Roc was happy, and the incessant panting stopped. I found a way to keep everyone in the family comfortable - Roc was "on ice" without the rest of us freezing!

It's worked so well that I bought a half-dozen more, as one defrosts I have another to replace it. So far only one of the little compartments has broken, and that was on the original Ice Pack sheet we've been using for everything for several years. I don't have to worry about exposing the family to chemicals if it does break - the liquid/frozen filling is water.

Need some help?

Our shop,, specializes in solutions for small dogs and their people - harnesses (over 30 different styles), toys, treats, collars, leashes and more. We're a small, family business run by and for people who love small dogs.

© 2012 Hope

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