- Not a substitute for professional veterinary help.
Whether fluffy or sleek, most dogs can be healthy and active in the heat, provided they get plenty of access to drinking water and shade.
That said, certain dog breeds have a greater appreciation for hotter climates—and all our pals could benefit from a little extra TLC in the summertime.
Tips for keeping cool through the dog days of summer
If you see the mercury rising, here are some tips to keep your canine cool:
- Offer an ice pack or wet towel to lay on.
- Add ice cubes to the water dish.
- Offer access to a wading pool with shallow, cool water.
- Offer access to cool shade by stringing up a tarp, cloth, or use a shade screen.
- Bring a collapsible water dish on your walks.
- Replace a portion of their regular diet with canned food.
- Avoid walking on hot pavement, and consider booties to insulate their toes.
- Early morning or evening playtimes, exercise, and walks are best.
- Give your dog some homemade frozen treats.
The best hot weather dog breeds
In general, dogs with thin, short coats—think: beagles, Chihuahuas, and Dalmatians—do best in the heat. Dogs with short noses and thick coats are less comfortable as temperatures rise.
Dog breeds originating in hot climates were born ready to face the heat: Basenjis and pharaoh hounds, to name a few. High-speed hounds used for coursing and racing, mostly from the sighthound group, are all naturally gifted when it comes to beating the heat. Their long noses cool the air, and their big lungs and hearts distribute oxygen through their bodies. Salukis, greyhounds, and whippets are all members of this speedy group.
Climate-sensitive breeds and conditions
While most any dog can tolerate the hot summer months with appropriate hydration and environment management, some dogs are just going to have a harder time.
All snub-nosed or brachycephalic dogs have a harder time regulating their temperatures due to their shorter nasal passages. Bulldogs, pugs, and Boston terriers are more sensitive to rising temperatures.
Other dogs that need special attention during a heat wave include giant breed dogs as well as elderly, obese, or diabetic animals.
Heatstroke in dogs: know the signs
- Raised temperature (101.5° is normal)
- Rapid breathing and panting
- Excess salivation and thickened saliva
- Fatigue or depression
- Muscle tremors
If you spot these signs, get your dog inside and contact your vet.
Wrap your dog in cold wet towels, especially the underarm/belly/groin area. A fan may be used on the dog during the cooling process.
Check your dog’s temperature every five minutes and end the cooling treatment when the temperature is down to 103°. Avoid cooling too rapidly to avoid shock. Allow access to cool water, but don’t force your dog to drink. Your vet may push IV fluids if dehydration is a concern.
Dehydration in dogs: know the signs
- Sunken eyes
- Dry mouth
- Gently pinch a fold of skin at the top of the neck. Is it slow to snap back?
Not all signs of dehydration are easy to detect. If you suspect your dog may be dehydrated, a trip to the vet is recommended.
Offer clean cool water. Try different bowls, adding a splash of carrot juice, chicken broth, or pieces of a favourite fruit to one of the bowls to encourage drinking. Some dogs enjoy a few ice chips in their water dish.
To shave or not to shave… Is that your question?
If your furry friend has a double coat like mastiffs, spitz, or terrier types, you may be tempted to simply shave off all that fuzz in hopes of keeping them cool. Before you break out the razor, you should know there can be several drawbacks to this solution, including a sudden lack of insulation and decreased sun protection.
Additionally, because longer guard hairs have a different growth cycle than inner insulation hairs, it can take years for some dogs to regain their natural appearance.
For more, see this article.