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Dog cooling in the pool

How to Cool Down a Dog and Keep Them Cool

7 min read

As the summer rolls around it’s easy to get swept up in planning for holidays, trips to the beach and lounging in the heat, but if you have a four-legged friend, you’ll need to think about how to keep them cool as the temperatures soar.

Dogs can’t cool themselves down as well as people, because their ability to sweat is much more limited and mainly through their paws. It means they need to rely on other methods such as panting to keep cool. Their inability to sweat coupled with the fact that they literally wear fur coats makes them at a high risk of overheating and heatstroke.

At Purina, we’ve put together this guide with our top tips on how to cool down a dog. Keep reading to find out all you need to know.


How to cool down a dog: 11 handy tips

From investing in a paddling pool to carefully planning out your walks, here are our 11 top tips for keeping your dog cool in the summer:

1. Get a paddling pool

There’s nothing more refreshing than a dip in the pool on a hot summer’s day and some dogs feel that way too! Invest in a solid paddling pool that’s made out of a durable material less likely to be punctured by your dog’s claws. There are even some specially designed for our pooches. Pop it in a shady spot in the garden and fill it with cool water. Make sure not to use icy or freezing water – if it’s too cold it can make them go into shock when the temperature changes too suddenly from very hot to very cold.

Exercise caution when you’re filling the pool too, ensure it’s not too high as your dog may struggle to get out, particularly if they’ve got little legs!

If your dog’s not much of a water baby, a great way to keep your dog cool is to encourage them to stand in the water. Even if they only stand in it for a short time, it can work wonders with cooling down their body temperature as they can absorb and release heat through their paws.

2. Keep them hydrated

This is a super important tip for how to cool down your dog. Make sure they’re drinking enough so they don’t get dehydrated and ensure there’s easily accessible fresh and clean drinking water in multiple bowls around your home and garden.

3. Offer ice treats

Just like we enjoy a refreshing ice lolly when it’s hot outside, your dog might too. Some owners pop ice cubes in their pet’s bowl to keep their water cool – but you should keep an eye as they can be a choking hazard. You can even purchase ice lollies specially for dogs which can make a tasty snack. Never give your pet human ice lollies and ice creams though, because these are high in sugar and can even contain sweeteners that are toxic to dogs.

4. Try cooling mats

Cooling mats can be a helpful way to keep your dog cool at night, but can also be used during the day as dogs naturally tend to gravitate to cool surfaces when they’re feeling warm. You can purchase cooling mats which can be popped in the freezer for extra cooling, or some have self-cooling gel technology inside which is designed to stay cool for longer. If your dog’s not a fan of cooling mats, you can try using freezer blocks, pads or even frozen water bottles – simply wrap these in a blanket and pop them in your dog’s bed. Keep in mind that these can heat up over time, so you might want a couple of cooling mats that you can rotate throughout the day.

5. Do not use wet towels

The advice of soaking a towel with cool, but not freezing water and placing it over your dog is quite popular. However, this will warm up very quickly and then acts to trap the heat against your pet even more so we suggest avoiding this unless advised otherwise by a vet. It can work better to flick some cool water on your pet instead, to help them cool down. Learn more about recognising the symptoms of heatstroke in dogs and what to do in our guide.

6. Stick to the shade

An easy tip for keeping your dog cool in the summer is to stay in the shade, keeping them out of direct sunlight. Garden trees and shrubs can offer some shady spots or you can purchase a canopy or gazebo to offer your dog some relief from the sun. However, in cases of extreme heat, it may be too hot for them to go outside, even if they stay out of the sun. It is a good idea to purchase a thermometer and check the shade temperatures before letting your pet outside for anything more than a quick toilet break.

7. Get a fan

A fan can be a great way to get air circulating and help your dog cool down. Get a fan and pop it next to your dog’s bed to keep them cool. For your dog’s safety it’s important to never leave them unsupervised with the fan on. Some dogs can find a fan stressful, particularly if noisy, so keep an eye on your pet and turn the fan off again if it is troubling them as becoming distressed can make panting and overheating worse.

8. Mist your dog

Keeping your dog’s coat damp can really help to keep their body temperature down and help them stay cool. Pop some cool water in a misting bottle and spray evenly over your dog’s coat, or for a bit of summertime fun you can try setting up a garden sprinkler for them to enjoy. If you’ve got a water loving dog, they’re bound to be delighted by it!

9. Try cooling coats and collars

Cooling coats and collars are specially designed for dogs to provide long-lasting cooling. The coats work as they’re activated with water and when the moisture in the coat evaporates, it draws out the heat and cools their body down. There are also a variety of collars on offer which contain self-cooling gels or ones that can be filled with ice to help keep your dog cool in the summer. Always follow the specific product guidance as some of these can also heat up after a few hours and might not be suitable to wear for long periods.

10. Carefully plan your walks

Never take your dog out in the midday sun when it’s hot and instead stick to early morning or late evening as it will be much cooler and more pleasant for you both. It’s a good idea to keep walks shorter and head to shadier areas such as woodlands.

You should also avoid pavements and roads as these can get incredibly hot and burn your dog’s paw pads even if the air temperature has cooled down. Before walking your dog on these types of surfaces, place your bare hand or foot first on the ground and if it’s too hot for you to hold it there for 10 seconds, it’s definitely too hot for your dog.

If you don’t have the time to walk your dog early or later on in the day, don’t be afraid to skip a walk and stay home to try some brain games, training or gentle play instead, it’s much better to be safe than sorry!

11. Keep up with regular grooming

One final way to keep your dog cool in the summer is to make sure you’re carrying out regular grooming. Many dogs will shed their coat during the summer months and so grooming them often will help to keep them cooler. It also helps by improving airflow as loose fur restricts it and serves as insulation.

If you’ve got a pup with longer fur, it may be a good idea to consider a summer trim. Speak to a professional groomer about this though as some fluffy dog breeds have fur that’s designed to keep them cool as well as warm and by clipping it off, you may be doing more harm than good.

Those are our top tips on how to cool down a dog and keep them cool in the summer heat! Looking for more daily care advice? Read our guide on how to bathe a dog, next.