Keep Your Dog Cool In the Summer

Written by: Livy DeLage, UNNC Student, HSC Intern

As the weather gets warmer and the sun gets brighter, we look forward to spending more time outside, however, the potential for dehydration, heatstroke, and danger to our dogs increases.

Being prepared for the heat of summer and knowing how to handle symptoms of overheating in your pet is important. Understanding which signs to look for is crucial, especially as some dog breeds are more susceptible to overheating than others due to their physiology. Because of their flattened faces, breeds such as Pugs, Boxers,  Shih Tzus, and Bulldogs have a more difficult time breathing when overexerted. These pets, along with the elderly, overweight, and pets with health problems should be kept cool more often than not.

What is Heatstroke?

Heatstroke occurs when the body becomes unable to control its temperature due to too much time in the heat: the body’s temperature rises rapidly and the body is unable to cool down. Signs of heatstroke include:

  • Excessive panting
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Increased heart and breathing rate
  • Drooling
  • Glazed Eyes
  • Profuse salivation
  • Vomiting
  • Deep red or purple tongue
  • Weakness or lethargy
  • Lack of balance or collapsing

If your dog shows signs of being overheated, quickly move them into the shade or an air-conditioned area. Applying ice packs or cold towels to their head, neck, and chest or run cool (not cold) water over them will help them cool down fast. Allow them to drink small amounts of cool water or lick ice cubes. Take them directly to a veterinarian if you think they are experiencing heatstroke or show signs of excessive stress due to the heat.

How Do I Keep My Pet Safe Outside?

Any time your pet is outside, it’s paramount to ensure that they have protection from the heat and direct sun, as well as having access to plenty of fresh, cold water. During times of excessive heat, adding ice to water can be helpful. Tarps and shade under trees are great sources of cooling because they don’t obstruct air flow but provide relief from direct sunlight.

When taking dogs out for a walk or to play, be aware of the surfaces they are walking on. On an 86-degree day, the asphalt can reach temperatures as high as 135 degrees! At 125 degrees, the pad of a dog’s paw can get burned in as little as 60 seconds.

A good rule to keep in mind is that when it comes to hot pavement: if it is too hot for your bare feet or the palm of your hand, it is too hot for their paws.

Top Tricks For Keeping Your Dog Cool

  • Whip up a batch of quick and easy DIY frozen treats for your dog this summer. An HSC Cooks Pupsicle recipe can be found HERE.
  • Keep your pet from overheating with a cooling body wrap, vest, or mat. You can find these at local pet stores or online at retailers like If your dog enjoys water, provide a shallow child’s pool for a cool soaking.
  • Always provide your pet with plenty of fresh water, whether your pets are inside or out. Hydration is one of the most essential needs for pet health. The hotter the temperature outside, the more water they will drink.
  • Splashing around in small, shallow pools of water or hosing down the driveway and sidewalk can make a big difference and help to ensure your dog doesn’t burn his or her paws. Remember, dogs do not have the ability to sweat, making it much harder for them to cool off their bodies. However, the bottom of your dog’s paws and the spaces between their toes function to keep them cool, meaning keeping their paws cool helps keep them cool!

For more information or advice on keeping your pets cool and healthy this summer, reach out to the team at the Humane Society of Charlotte by emailing us at