Ten Ways to Protect Your Dog from the Heat

Ace dog resting in grass on a hot dayl

Enjoying time outdoors in the warm sun may be a highlight for many of us, especially this summer, as many of us are finding more creative ways to spend outside with our families and pets. As we enjoy time in our backyards, or even exploring local trails or going on walks around our neighborhood, we have to also remember that the sun we enjoy so much can become dangerous, not only to us, but even more so to our pets. As humans, we remember to hydrate and drink extra water, but our dogs (and pets in general) can’t cool down as easily or as quickly as we can. As you’re spending time outdoors with your dogs this summer, there are several safety tips to keep in mind to make sure you’re keeping him or her safe in the summer sun.

1. Water, water, water

It probably goes without saying that staying well-hydrated, especially on hot days, is extremely important in helping keep your dog cool and warding off the dangers of overheating. Provide your pup with water regularly throughout the day will be key in preventing the summer heat and humidity from negatively affecting your pup’s health.

If your dog doesn’t drink water even when they’re hot, you can pour cool water on the dog’s back and try to also put cool water in their groin area or on the pads of their feet to help keep them cool.

Coco dog drinking water after a walk on a hot day.

2. Grooming

For dogs with thicker coats, giving them a good grooming during the summer months can help him keep cool, but make sure you’re working with a professional and knowledgeable groomer, as some dogs should never be shaved down (as this can prevent dangers in some dogs such as huskies and golden retrievers). Just be aware that pets can also experience sun burn, so make sure you or the groomer leaves enough hair to protect their skin from the sun’s rays. Dogs with no undercoat and/or with white fur are more prone to sunburns. You can also check out dog-safe sunscreen, like this Vitamin and Essential Oil Sunscreen and Skin Conditioner for Dogs.

3. Shade and Air Conditioning

While outdoors, make sure your pup has access to shaded areas to rest and cool down, as dogs have a much harder time regulating their temperature than humans do.

(Aside from a few on their feet, dogs do not have sweat glands, and panting is one of the main ways a dog can cool itself as it allows the dog to evaporate moisture from their lungs, taking away from their body heat).

Emma dog cooling off in the shade outside on a hot day.

4. Water Toys and Sprinklers

Keeping your pet cool in the summertime can be extra fun for your pet when you incorporate special toys only used during the summer! Buying a kiddie pool for your dog to splash around in and play can be a cool and very fun way for your pet to enjoy time outdoors without overheating. Many of us already have sprinklers on hand, and these are another fun option to let your dog enjoy! You may also consider simply laying out a cold, wet towel for your dog to lay on while outdoors, so long as your pup isn’t like mine who would probably whip the towel around like a toy! But regardless, incorporating water into your time outside with your pup is not only fun for them, but entertainment for us to watch, too!

5. Take Advantage of our Beautiful Lakes!

A few of the dogs we walk regularly with Milwaukee Paws Pet Care are huge lovers of our local lakes, and our dog walkers take full advantage by taking them to the lake for a swim! With a long lead leash, you can be sure you’ll see smiles and excitement from your
pup as they have the freedom to safely enjoy the water as you watch from the shores. You’ll probably need to be prepared to get wet, too, though – but what better way to bond and let your pup get out some energy than enjoying some of the beautiful nature that surrounds us!

Mulligan dog cooling off at the lake on a hot day.

6. Never Leave Pets in a Parked Car

This one speaks for itself, and should be obvious that this is very unsafe; however, you may be surprised to know that on an 85-degree day, the inside of a car will reach up to 120 degrees after just 30 minutes!

Pets can suffer organ damage or die very quickly in such hot temperatures, so dogs (or any pet) should never be left in a parked car, not even for a minute.

Poof panting in the shaded grass on a hot day.

7. Be Aware of Asphalt Temps

On a hot day, the pavement or asphalt sidewalks can feel like fire to your dogs’ paws and can leave serious burns. Additionally, the heat from the pavement increases your dog’s body temperature and can lead to overheating. Before taking your dog out to hit the pavement, test it first with the backside of your palm. If it feels too hot for your hand, it is too hot for your dog’s paws. While taking your dog out on hot days such as this, encourage your dog to walk only on grassy areas. If this isn’t possible, you can also consider purchasing products to protect their sensitive paws as well as keeping walks to a minimum when these pavements cannot be avoided.

Some products to consider include paw wax that can be applied directly to their pads before walking to help protect them from rough and hot surfaces. One particular wax one of our dog walkers prefers to use is called Musher’s Secret Paw Wax. Some pet owners may also consider purchasing dog shoes to protect those sensitive paw pads from the hot asphalt (among other surfaces). Although, be forewarned – some dogs may have a difficult time getting use to their new digs and may need to be conditioned in getting use to wearing them.

You can also reach out to your dog’s veterinarian for other product suggestions as some dogs will react better to certain products for protection than others.

8. Limit Exercise on Hot Days

Hot sun, humidity, and exercise do not make for a great mix for your pup, but if he or she needs some light exercise, make sure to limit the intensity and length of your time outdoors. Consider spending a few minutes outside in shaded areas and then offer your pup time to do some creative exercise games indoors. (More on this below as we discuss additional ways to exercise your pup inside!)

Riggs dog resting in air conditioning on hot day.

9. Avoid the hottest times of day

If your pup is itching to get outside for some light exercise even on a hot day, try taking him or her out earlier in the morning before the sun and humidity are at their peak. When possible, you can also take your pup outside in the evenings after the sun goes down to avoid the dangerous temperatures while again being cautious and limiting the intensity and duration of your walk.

If you’re struggling to find the time to get your pup outdoors for a dog walk or need additional help finding creative ways to exercise your pup even on those hotter days, please reach out to Milwaukee Paws Pet Care. We can help step in when you can’t be home and make sure your dog gets some safe and physically engaging activity while you’re away.

Enzo panting and resting during a walk in the heat.

10. Recognizing the Signs of Overheating/Heat Stroke in Pups

Even when you think you’re being careful, our dogs may still end up experiencing heat stroke, especially those pups of ours that are very old, very young, or overweight. Certain breeds of dogs that have shorter muzzles (like pugs and shih tzus, for example) may also have a much harder time breathing in extreme heat since they cannot pant as effectively and are therefore more likely to suffer from overheating.

No matter what kind of dog breed you have, it’s important to know and watch out for any signs of overheating and heat stroke so you can act quickly if your dog ever experiences trouble. It’s important to watch your dog closely for any sudden or gradual changes in their breathing and activity levels. More specifically, if you notice that your dog is panting, has glazed eyes, a rapid heartbeat, is having trouble breathing, or is extremely thirsty, these could be signals that your dog is overheating. Additionally, many dogs will appear dizzy, lethargic and exhibit a lack of coordination if the overheating continues to worsen. In some instances, dogs can begin to salivate excessively, vomit, have bloody diarrhea, a seizure or even become unconscious, which can also lead to death. It’s incredibly important to watch for any of the “smaller” signs of overheating so you can get your dog the help he needs before it progresses to the later stages of heat stroke. And remember, this can happen quickly, so make sure to do all you can (as stated above) to help protect your pups from the heat in the first place to keep your dog happy, healthy and thriving, even in hot weather.

What to do if you notice your pet is suffering from heat stroke:

If your pet isn’t already indoors, move him immediately inside, ideally to an air-conditioned room. If this isn’t possible, find a shaded area and offer small amounts of water or ice cubes. It is also helpful to run cool (not ice cold) water over their neck/chest area. You’ll want to check your dog’s temperature (rectally). If your dog’s temperature is between 103-106, he is likely at high risk for heat stroke and should be seen immediately by your local veterinarian. Call ahead and listen to any advice they give prior to bringing your pup in; this will also allow them time to prepare for your visit and be ready to take immediate action upon your arrival.

As dog lovers and pet lovers, all of us at Milwaukee Paws Pet Care hope your beloved pets never experience the dangers of overheating, and we are well experienced in getting creative when time outdoors must be limited but still allowing your dogs to get the mental and physical exercise they need and crave. Below we’ve included a few extra ways to keep your pups active, even when indoors.

Ways to Exercise Your Pup Indoors

After you’ve done all you can safely outdoors, or when being outdoors is too dangerous for your pups, you can get quite creative indoors while still allowing your dog to let out some energy! Some ideas include:

1. Go take a stroll through your local Home Depot or other pet-friendly store. Many Pet Supply Stores also allow dogs and pets inside, and allowing your dog to experience new sights and smells gives your pup some mental stimulation he needs while also burning as much energy as a walk around the neighborhood!

2. Practice some tricks or teach your dog new commands. Giving your pup time to work his brain is not the typical kind of exercise you may think of, but this exercises his brain and will help tire him out mentally. Additionally, you can take advantage of this indoor time and help teach your dog certain behaviors you may not previously had time to work on. If you are looking for dog training tips or need help in training your dog, we can help! Please reach out today and we would be happy to provide more information on our dog training services!

3. Play “Find It” with treats! This is one of my personal favorites to play with my pup! You can start by having your pup “sit” in place as you hide treats around the room. Then say your release word or “Find It” as your pup runs around the room, sniffing and searching for those rewarding treats! If your pup is already very good at this game, you can make it more challenging by hiding treats under blankets or baskets and hiding them in more than one room.

Dog playing game find it with treats.

4. Indoor Games. There are many more games aside from “Find It” that you can play with your pup. Try playing a game of tug-of-war, or, if you have the safe, open space, a game of fetch! I play indoor fetch with my pup regularly, but we make sure to stop when/if he gets a bit too hyper. You can also take this time to practice calming commands such as “sit,” “lay down,” or “stay.”

5. Schedule a play-date with another pup! Maybe your pup has some other pup friends and maybe one of those pup friends has a dog-friendly pool or a large indoor play space or basement they can run around and play in! Or, if you do, you can invite your pup’s friends over, too and let them enjoy some playtime together. If you’re looking for pet sitting or dog walking services or are looking for reliable pet care workers to come in and give your beloved pet the exercise he needs while you’re away, please let us know! We can set up a meet and greet to get to know you and your pup while sharing all the fun, creative and interactive ways we keep your pup active, safe and engaged in our pet care visits and walks!

If you’re looking for pet sitting or dog walking services or are looking for reliable pet care workers to come in and give your beloved pet the exercise he needs while you’re away, please let us know! We can set up a meet and greet to get to know you and your pup while sharing all the fun, creative and interactive ways we keep your pup active, safe and engaged in our pet care visits and walks!

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