Cool Dog –
Keep Your Dog Cool in the Summer

Ah Summer!

school holidays, green grass, blue skies, and warm weather. It is a welcome change after the cold, rainy, and barren winter.

The dogs are dozing, the people are dozing, really everyone is just enjoying the season for lazy and sleepy days.

However, as the temperature rises, it goes from pleasantly warm to unpleasantly hot; then sticky, sweaty hot; then sometimes, awful, scorching hot. If it feels bad for us, imagine what it must feel like for our dogs, who always have their fur-coats on!

Dogs have more trouble staying cool than people do. Because of their thick fur, they mainly dissipate heat through panting, as well as through their paws and underbelly.

Here are some tips on how to keep our dog cool and comfortable in the hot summer months.

1. Keep our dogs well watered

Dogs need to drink a lot more when it is hot outside. Drinking will help our dog cool down, and enable better heat loss through panting.

Panting releases heat through water evaporation on the respiratory tract. The more panting that occurs, the more water our dog will have to drink to replenish the moisture lost through this process.

When picking water bowls for our dog, note that bacteria have a higher likelihood to breed in plastic water containers. The summer heat will also encourage bacterial and other organic growth, including pond scum and water algae. Use a stainless steel or ceramic water bowl to help limit bacterial contamination.

I keep my water bowls clean and fresh by washing them at least once a day. I refill them more frequently in the summer months, and make sure that my dogs always have clean water available to drink.

I use a large stainless steel water bowl outside, and two smaller stainless steel bowls inside the house. I put the outside water bowl in the shade, so that my dog can rest close to it, without being out in the hot sun.

2. Keep our dogs well sheltered

It is best to allow our dogs access to the house during hot days. The temperature will always be much cooler in the house, because it gets good insulation from our roof and walls. Use air-conditioning and ceiling fans as necessary.

If ceiling fans are not available, consider buying some stand fans, and leave some windows open for good air circulation. I place the stand fan in a cool area of the house, with my dog’s bed and toys. Elevated beds or cool surfaces, such as tile or marble floors, will also help keep our dog comfortable during the summer.

If we have an outside dog, it is important to have shaded areas in the backyard. I like shade provided by trees best, because it gives protection from the sun and still allows free airflow.

Dog houses and walled kennels are actually inappropriate during hot days.

While they may provide shade, they also trap hot air within a small, enclosed space. This may cause heatstroke, especially in instances where the dog is locked inside a dog house or kennel.

For nighttime crating, consider using a more open, wire-frame crate. Have a stand fan blowing in the vicinity if necessary.

3. Get a plastic dog wading pool

Taking a dip in the pool is a great way to cool off during the summer – for people as well as dogs.

Therefore, I bought some hard-plastic wading pools for my dogs. They are light-weight, cheap, and not as chewable as the plastic inflatable kiddie pools. Initially, I encouraged my dogs to get into the pool with fun games and food rewards. Once they are accustomed to the pool, I let them use it (or not) as they please.

The water hose game can also be a lot of fun on a hot day. First, I get a nozzle for my garden hose that shoots out a focused, jet stream of water. I make sure to control the force of the water, so that I do not hurt my dog if he gets hit by the stream. Then, I simply move the hose around and start a fun chasing game.

As with all games, make sure our dog does not get over-excited, does not jump on us, or try to attack the water hose. Do not aim the water at our dog’s face or eyes.

Not all dogs enjoy this game. Some dogs may not like chasing, or getting wet.

4. Use a cool bed and ice water bottle

During the summer, I let my Siberian Husky sleep on a dog water bed, in her crate at night. The bed helps to cool her down, as well as provides some nice cushioning for her elbow. This is especially important because she is a three legged dog, and she places more weight on her front elbow while lying down.

On really hot nights, the cool bed alone is insufficient, and my Husky has a difficult time settling down. Therefore, I also give her an ice-water bottle. I use a plastic bottle and freeze water inside. I then cover it up with an old sock, so that it is more comfortable to sleep with.

When I freeze the water bottle in the refrigerator, I slightly unscrew the bottle cap, so that there are no large changes in pressure that could crack the container.

5. Walk earlier in the morning & later in the evening

In the summer, it gets warm earlier in the morning, and does not cool down until later in the evening. The good news is that it also gets light earlier, and stays light for longer.

Therefore, I shift my walk schedule accordingly, so that my dog can enjoy cooler temperatures and a fun outing. My Shiba Inu will refuse to leave the house when it is too hot outside.

Remember to bring enough water along, and give our dog many rest breaks in the shade. Dogs will get tired faster when it is hot, because they expend more energy panting. Observe our dog, and adjust the length of the walk according to how hot, and how tired he gets.

My three legged dog gets tired much faster during the warm weather, so I shorten her walks, and give her more stops along the way.

Things to Avoid During the Summer

1. Do not leave our dog inside the car alone.

Not even if we have the windows open, and not even for short periods of time. A car can heat up very quickly.

People at HowStuffWorks showed how the temperature within a car can climb from 75 degrees F to 110 degrees F within 15 minutes. This can be fatal to a dog, who cannot dissipate body heat as quickly as we can.

Most dog heatstroke cases are from people leaving their dogs inside the car, or in enclosed crates and kennels.

2. Do not leave our dog in the backyard alone, without water and proper shade.

If we must leave our dog home alone, then leave him inside the house, with a good supply of clean water. I also close the shades where the sun is strongest, and make sure there is good air circulation. Alternatively, we can install a dog door so that he can easily go in and out, as he so chooses. In this case, I leave some fresh and clean water outside as well.

3. Do not over exercise our dog.

Activity will tire a dog out more quickly during the summer months. Make sure not to over-exercise our dog.

If we walk our dog on a treadmill, do not leave him there unattended. Treadmill sessions should always be supervised, in any kind of weather.

Have a fun, happy, and dogtastic summer!

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  1. Greg says

    We are babysitting my son’s huskie Mardi. She had surgery for both ACL’s. She is with us in AZ and its hot outside. She loves the outside and has shade and I use a fan for her. I also soaked one of my shirts in water and put that on top of her. Just wondering if that is an OK idea or not.

  2. Debbie Dixon says

    Have you ever trained your dogs to walk on a treadmill? I have a 6 month old siberian husky/shiba inu mix and now that warm weather has arrived I would like to continue giving her the exercise she needs. We were walking 2 hours a day (30-45 sessions) and now that is getting harder to do.

  3. Martha Kennedy says

    I followed your craigslist posting about dogs with heavy fur should not live here (or whatever it says (which annoyed me because it isn’t true) to your posting here. This is excellent! Full of useful information! I wish you would add that snow dogs should not be clipped because they lose the insulation from cold (and heat!) when they’re clipped. It’s also important to remember that lying on the white snow or ice on a sunny winter day is pretty blistering. I’ve gotten bad sunburns while skiing, but snow dogs are perfectly adapted to sun on snow. My Siberians have often surprised me by going outside on a hot day and spending some time lying in the sun. I’ve only had one who would voluntarily enter a kiddy pool and she was taught by a Labrador pal. I wish your craigslist posting said something more along these lines than what it does say.

    • shibashake says

      Hello Martha, I don’t do postings on craigslist, so whatever you find there is not posted by me.

    • Jamie says

      I have a Siberian puppy… he loves his pool. Took to it instantly, was in it playing as I was filling it. 🙂

  4. Cindi says

    My German Shepard is 8 yrs. old and has chronic skin disorders since puppyhood. This last year they are worst, I had his blood work done and he has low T, he’s on medsfor that but still has the itches. I feed him Blue grain free gluten free dog food. He’s been on several different antihistamines and trying a new one this week. I give him omega 3 with salmon oil daily and nothing is really working.. He can’t tolerate steroids, I had him on them last yr and about lost him. He gets groomed often, but still developed hotspots. This hot weather is unbearable for him and I don’t know how to help him anymore or break the itching frenzie, can you help him? What else can I do?

    • shibashake says

      For something complex and recurring like that, I would consider going to see an animal skin specialist.

      I have visited with two animal specialists (one for teeth, and one for bones). They were both very helpful, and knew a lot about their area of study. In both cases, they were able to identify the key issue, and most importantly, present me with options on how to move forward.

      Skin allergies can be the result of many different things. *If* I think it is a food issue, then I switch my dog over to a bland diet. I feed him only boiled chicken and white rice (no treats, or anything else), and I observe to see if there is any improvement. For dogs who are allergic to poultry, we will need to use a different source of meat.

      In terms of keeping my dogs cool, here are some things that I do –
      a) Create a cool resting area in the house. I find a shady spot in the house, put the shades down if necessary, and put on a stand fan or ceiling fan. I put my dog’s toys and water close-by.
      b) Elevated bed or cool bed.
      c) Ice water bottle.

      I talk more about what I do in the article above.

    • Anonymous says

      Sounds like a allergy. Try not using ANYair freshiners no fabric softeners no carpet sprinkle stuff see if that helps if not it may be a body spray or perfume that could be messing with him. My poor dog went theu so much before finding what bothered him. He should be shaved down i. The summer when the long hair touches the hot spot they lick it more. The hair will grow back in no time.

  5. Amanda says

    Although I don’t own a Shiba Inu, I am the proud owner/mother/friend of a Pembroke Welsh Corgi and 2 Italian Greyhounds in Las Vegas, NV. A cheap, easy, and quick “trick” that I instinctively came to is to apply cold water to your dog’s belly and rib cage. My AC went out today, leaving us to fend for ourselves in the 108 degree heat as best we could. I’ve been applying the water to the belly and rib cage “technique” for years now as a quick and easy way to keep the dogs comfortable during our spring and autumn hikes for years now, and its been a wonderful solution to keeping the dogs comfortable during this situation.

    A Dog’s organs are located near their belly, and that’s where most of their blood-and the heat-flow. The application of water and subsequent evaporation works the exact same way as sweat word on us, helping to quickly regulate body temp.

    I apply water by using my hand as a spoon/scoop then liberally rubbing the water on the tummy and rib cage (especially und the front two legs and groin). The cooling effect is immediate and lasts for a good 30-40 minutes, depending on the dogs with good coat cover ( the IGs require more frequent applications.).

    I post this because its a solution I haven’t found mentioned on any dog sites, which I’ve been vigorously searching to find solutions to keeping mry dogs comfortable during this temporary but potentially dangerous situation.

    I hope it helps!

  6. Sophia says

    What exactly are hot spots? I just got the cutest Siberian husky pup and am doing as much research as possible! Thabks

  7. says

    hi there, I am sad to hear about a close friend’s dog who has to be put down this morning. It is summer here and apparently there is excess fluid in her system and every time she drinks water she vomits. I was hoping a cold water bottle would help. Any advice welcome as my friend is losing her precious companion as I type this. 🙁

    • shibashake says

      I am so sorry to hear this Alan.

      I sometimes give my dogs small pieces of ice cubes. It helps to limit the speed with which water enters their system.

      It is good to have friends around at such times.

  8. Chloe. says

    I think it will help a lot, thank you. When she gets out of her luke warm bath(as she has been sick), i will make sure all of those things are neccessary and get a cold water bottle done. THANK YOU.

    • shibashake says

      Hello Chloe,
      All my dogs have double coats, and tend to get hot during the summer. I only do these things when my dogs need it. If your dog is sick, it is best to consult with your vet as to what is appropriate. We don’t want to make it be too cold either.

      Hugs to your girl. Hope she feels better soon.

  9. Deb Vozniak says

    One thing that works for me with my dogs is wet doggie teeshirts. I buy plain dog teeshirts and soak them in lukewarm water and put them on the dogs. It keeps the cool fabric in contact with their chests and bellies and seems to help a lot. As they dry, I just pour on a bit more lukewarm water. I don’t use cold because I know it can shock humans and I assume it does the same to dogs.

  10. LaTesha Stewart, DVM says

    As a veterinarian, I must say that I’m very impressed with the suggestions that Shibashake recommended. These are very good pieces of advice to heed.

  11. Javier says

    I live in south florida just got a husky my wife says we should and need to shave him in the summer or at least trim him I say we don’t because there fur is an insulater he just needs water and shade. So what do I do

    • shibashake says

      Hello Javier,

      Yeah, shaving is *not* recommended for Siberian Huskies. My Sibes only get shaved when it is absolutely necessary, e.g. during surgery.

      Shaving can damage their coat and cause skin problems.

      Sibes have really nice coats that don’t get very dirty. I just regularly brush my Sibes with a Furminator to remove undercoat and dirt.

  12. Willow says

    When the husky plays in the pool do u have to worry about it getting hot spots? Do u dry them off after playing? Please help!!! I cannot find a good answer and I do not want to shave my dog

    • shibashake says

      I always dry Shania after she plays in the pool or gets wet from being outside in the rain. Initially I was doing it because Shania is a 3-legged-dog and I do not want her to slip on the floor.

      Later on I discovered that it is also important to prevent hot-spots. Shania got her first hot spot this recent winter. She stayed out in the rain for too long. Now I call her inside after a short while. I make sure to dry her well once she gets into the house.

      When Shania got the hot-spot we caught it early so it wasn’t very bad at all. It was on the bottom-inner side of her rear leg. We clipped some of the fur around it, cleaned it out properly, made sure it was always dry, and well ventilated. The most challenging part was making sure Shania did not lick at it, so we had to supervise her more frequently.

      For more serious hot-spots I would go to the vet.

  13. Janet21 says

    Great job on this hub! Your dogs are precious. They are very lucky to have a Mommy like you to watch over them during the warm summer months. 🙂

  14. Gypsy Willow says

    Thanks for the tips, Shiba. We are lucky to have a swimming pool and the dogs enjoy a supervised swim in the hottest part of the day, they are both lab mixes. I think the point you made about not over exercising them is very important.

    • shibashake says

      Can my dogs come visit? I’ll tag along as their personal assistant. 😀

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