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Updated on September 7, 2022: This guide to keeping your dog safe in the heat was originally published on September 1. However, in light of the excessive heat warnings in Los Angeles, we are updating this post with additional resources for our West Coast friends. If you’re worried about how to keep your dog cool in the heat, read on for products, expert advice and cooling tips. We’ve also added additional information on identifying heat stroke in dogs.
Summer may be winding down but that doesn’t mean we’re clear of the heat. And if you live somewhere with hot weather year-round, you know how difficult it can be to keep your pup comfortable and healthy in elevated temperatures.
If you live in a place with relentless heat waves, have a dog who frequently overheats or needs a lot of time outside no matter what the temperature is, we’ve got some cooling tips for dogs you’ll definitely want to know.
This is my dog, Cookie, she’s a French bulldog who loves snoozing, playing and generally being adorable. (Editor’s Note: she’s also pretty famous on TikTok, where she has 350,000 followers.) She does not, however, like paper towels, or overheating on summer walks and adventures outside.
Keep reading to find my top tips for keeping a dog like Cookie cool in the summer, and helping them stay healthy and comfortable in hot temperatures.
Anyone elses dog lose their s*** over this? Asking for a friend 😅 #imnotscaredoflionstigersorbears #weirddog #frenchiesoftiktok #frenchbulldogs #bulldog
Cooling Tips for Dogs
As much as I try to avoid taking Cookie for walks in the heat, it can be difficult to cut out walks altogether. Lucky for me, Cookie is pretty true to the stereotypical French bulldog who loves to sleep and hardly moves throughout the day. That being said, she still gets antsy when I keep her in the apartment for a full day. And a stressed-out dog tends to lead to a stressed-out parent, so here are some ways we manage to stay cool and stay sane when things start to get hot.
Read More: The Best Dog Water Bottles For Staying Cool
1. Cooling Bandanas
When temperatures reach upwards of 80 degrees, the safest times to walk your dog are the early morning and in the evening. Personally, I walk Cookie around 7 a.m. before I leave for work, and then again sometime after the sun goes down. However, no matter how early or late in the day it is, I always throw a cooling bandana on Cookie.
Cooling bandanas are easy to wear, effective at regulating temperature, and super cute. All you have to do is run the bandana under water and tie it on your pup to keep them cool. To keep Cookie even cooler, I like to throw it in the fridge or freezer for around 20 minutes, before we go for a walk. This way the bandana stays cooler longer. And when I want Cookie to not just be cool but to look cool I love to match her cooling bandana to her harness. Our favorites are from Ruffhaus NYC
Ruffhaus What-A-Melon Cooling Bandana
All For Paws Chill Out Ice Bandana
This chili ice bandana from All For Paws is made of cold-sensing fabric that can sense heat and cool itself down. All it takes to activate is a quick dump in water, a twist out and putting it in the fridge for 10 minutes. It comes in small, medium and large for differently-sized dogs and has a stylish blue ripple water pattern that’ll make your dog look great.
2. Dog Shoes
However hot the temperature is, the concrete is even hotter. Sometimes in the city it feels like you can see the heat coming up from the concrete on those 90+ degree days. On a day where the temperature is above 90, that means the concrete can get to above 100. Can you imagine having to walk barefoot on that?
When the concrete gets hot enough it can burn the pads on your dog’s paws. So, just as humans wear shoes to protect our feet, dogs’ paws need protection too! Unlike some of the other products, dog shoes are something your dog may need more time getting used to. For Cookie, I started putting the shoes on her when we were inside to help her get used to them. Now she can walk anywhere and keep her paws protected.
RifRuf Caesar 1S Dog Shoes
These RifRuf sneakers are made with durable mesh uppers for breathability as well as a 100% rubber midsole and outsole for protecting paws against rough surfaces and high temperatures. Each one has a hook-and-loop closure for a tight, secure fit and the gusset-tongue construction protects against dirt, debris and dewclaw.
Read More: The Best Dog Pools of 2022
3. Portable Water Bottles and Water Bowls
If you take your dog for long walks, having an easy way to get your dog water is always a good idea. This applies any time of the year in any weather, but is especially important in the summer.
Even if I am taking Cookie somewhere with AC I always try to throw a water bottle or dog bowl in my bag so I can ensure she stays hydrated. It is so convenient to clip a pop-up dog bowl to a leash, or to throw a dog bowl water bottle in my bag. There are various designs for the dog bowl water bottle, but this one is our favorite. It is lightweight, easy to use, and doesn’t get water all over my bag.
lesotc Upgraded Pet Water Bottle for Dogs
SLSON Collapsible Dog Bowl
4. Cooling Mats
Keeping your dog cool doesn’t stop when you return home from time outside, and adding a nice cooling mat to their repertoire of dog beds can be super helpful in the warmer months.
Cooling mats for dogs function very similarly to bandanas, you can get them wet or put them in the fridge or freezer and let your pet lay on them. As the water evaporates, it’s designed to lower their body temperature and help them cool off faster. Personally, I recommend storing the mat in the freezer or fridge, and only removing it when your dog needs to lay on it.
Cookie has a tendency to get over excited at the end of the walk and when we come back she will be panting a little extra, making a cooling mat extra helpful for a post-walk cool down. If you’re wetting your mat, I would also recommend throwing a towel down under the cooling mat to avoid any extra messes. Alternatively, they make self-cooling dog mats you can also purchase.
Microcosmos Pet Cooling Mat
Read More: The Best Cooling Dog Beds of 2022
5. Interactive Toys
Interactive toys don’t actually have an effect on keeping your dog cool, but they do keep your dog entertained and stimulated during the day, when temperatures outside might keep them from being able to run and roam. If you’re like us and have cut down significantly on walks because of the heat, then having a way to stimulate your dog inside is important. Since Cookie is not strongly food motivated, finding an interactive toy she would actually interact with took some time.
iFur Dog Puzzle Toys
This is one of Cookie’s favorite toys even without putting treats in it. The different pages (squeak, crinkle, etc.) keep Cookie interested and it isn’t too hard that she gets bored with it.
Yinxue Large Dog Snuffle Mat
Snuffle mats can come in all different shapes and sizes but I would recommend a mat that has a few different hiding parts so it isn’t all the same. Would also recommend one that is machine washable.
Queenkic Snuffle Mat For Pet Dog
Nina Ottosson by Outward Hound Interactive Treat Puzzle Dog Toy
The puzzle toys are a little more difficult so I would recommend starting with the easy level and working your way up from there if your dog seems interested. I bought a puzzle toy for Cookie once and she gave up pretty quickly and decided it wasn’t worth it. If you think your dog may be like Cookie then I would suggest sticking to the snuffle mats over the puzzle toys.
Signs of Overheating in Dogs
Many dogs are prone to overheating, and it’s important to recognize the most common signs of overheating in dogs:
It’s probably normal for your dog to pant a little, but make sure to keep an eye on the panting and make sure it doesn’t become a lot too quickly. Cookie sometimes pants after one block of walking even when it’s cold out, and since panting is a dog’s cooling mechanism excessive panting caused by excessive heat can be a telltale sign of heat exhaustion.
Usually, Cookie only pants for a few seconds and then stops, but I always keep a close watch, and it if seems like she’s panting too much, then I’ll pick her up and the walk will be over.
2. A Hot Body Temperature
This one may seem obvious, but often people aren’t checking their dog’s bodies to see if they feel hot. If you are already petting or scratching your pet, feel the temperature of their skin and if it’s elevated, take notice. With Cookie having a black coat, I’ve noticed she gets hot very quickly if it’s warm and sunny out, especially if I don’t have her in a cooling bandana. That’s why we never leave home without one, especially on very hot days.
3. Slow and Sluggish
If your dog is moving slow or acting sluggish on a walk, notice this and listen to them. It could be that they’re overheating and trying to tell you it’s time to go back inside. If you have a dog like Cookie, a French bulldog, for whom stopping a lot and moving slowly is just a part of their stubborn personality, this may be less of a telltale sign. At the end of the day, you know what’s best for your dog, so if something feels off it’s always best to err on the side of caution and head back inside.
4. Heavy Drooling and Thick Saliva
Again, some slobber is inevitable, but if your pet is suddenly drooling or their saliva becomes unusually thick, this could be a sign of dehydration and heat exhaustion.
How To Keep Your Dog Cool in the Heat
In addition to the tips above, we wanted to include some expert advice on keeping your dog cool in extreme heat. There are a variety of products you can use to help keep your dog comfortable, but the most important thing you can do is keep your dog inside and out of the heat as much as possible. Obviously, your pup will need to go outside for part of the day, but minimizing their exposure to extreme temperatures is important.
According to the American Kennel Club’s website, “The best strategy is to simply avoid situations where your dog might overheat. That means keeping your dog indoors during the hottest parts of the day and making sure that he has lots of water to drink.” In addition, the AKC recommends using “Cooling mats, vests, frozen water bottles… and crate fans.” Not only can these products be helpful during heat waves, but they can also be helpful when taking a road trip with your dogs.
What about folks who don’t have air conditioning? If you’re unable to provide a cool space inside, then finding shade for your dog is absolutely critical. The AKC also has some tips for people who don’t have air conditioning available to cool off their pups during heat waves. First, be sure to keep your dog hydrated with plenty of water. You can also use your freezer to create cooling toys and frozen healthy dog treats, aka pupsicles.
“If you have a working freezer, make cold treats, like frozen chew toys or dog-safe ice pops