Beat the heat: How to keep your dog cool in summer

by PDSA | 29 July 2021 #Lifestyle

Summer is here, and while we're keen to make the most of the hot, sunny weather while it lasts, our dogs can often struggle in the heat. Luckily, there’s lots of things we can do to keep them cool and help them enjoy the summer – here are our top tips!

Dogs can’t cool themselves down as easily as we can as they’re unable to sweat like us. Instead, they mainly use panting to keep cool. Coupled with their thick fur, which is like wearing an insulated coat, this can make them prone to overheating. It’s important to do all we can to keep our furry friends cool, to prevent serious illnesses such as heatstroke.

If the forecast is looking warm, it’s best to prepare to cool your dog down before they start getting hot. If you spot any signs that your dog is feeling too hot – for example panting, stopping their exercise or lying stretched out, it’s important to monitor them closely. You should also be aware of the signs of heatstroke so you can get help quickly if they overheat. Common signs include:

  • Panting heavily
  • Dribbling
  • Wobbling and having trouble standing up
  • Bright red gums

If your dog has symptoms of heatstroke, give first aid and contact your vet immediately.


Cool tricks

There are lots of things you can do to keep your dog cool on hot summer days, from building an outdoor shelter in the shade, to keeping them groomed.

Encourage your pooch to stay hydrated

When the weather is hot, one of the most important things you can do for your pup is to encourage them to drink enough water so they don’t get dehydrated. Ensure your dog always has access to fresh, clean water by placing bowls around your home and garden. You can also make staying hydrated and cool, fun with tasty pet-safe summer treats.

Stick to the shade

If your dog is an outside explorer, ensure that they have a shady spot to lounge in, keeping them out of direct sunlight. Trees, shrubs and gazebos make for ideal shaded spots – or you can even try making your own simple DIY outdoor sun shelter to provide your doggy the perfect place for a summer snooze! Don’t forget that too much sunbathing can lead to sunburn, so encourage them to lie in the shade even if it’s a cooler day.

A paddling pool for paws

If your dog enjoys playing in water, why not make keeping cool fun with a shallow paddling pool or washing up bowl filled with cool water for your pup’s paws? Remember to always keep a close eye on them around water to make sure they’re safe!

Create a cool room

When it’s too hot outside, some dogs will seek out a tiled floor which can be nice and cool to lie down on. You could also create a cool room by setting up a fan. Closing the curtains on the sunny side of the house and opening the windows and doors that are in the shade, can help keep the room cooler (just make sure your dog can’t jump out, run away or injure themselves if you’re leaving windows or doors open!).

Ice packs and cool pads

Cooling mats are a great way to help your dog keep cool, as they make for the perfect place for your pup to lie. You can make your own cool mat with a damp towel, regularly refreshing it in cold water if it starts to get warm.


Many dogs will start to shed their coat as the summer sets in. Regular grooming can help to keep them cool as all the loose fur acts as insulation. A good, daily brush will remove the old hair and help keep them nice and cool. This is especially important if your pup goes through a summer moult or has a heavy coat.

Some dogs may also appreciate a summer trim, especially those with longer coats. This will depend on your dog’s coat type as some dogs have fur that is designed to protect them from the sun and can actually keep them cooler! Speak to your vet or a dog groomer to check if their coat is warming them up or helping keep them cool before you decide on a summer haircut. If you don’t feel confident with the clippers, it’s always safest to take them to a professional groomer.

Remember that your dog’s skin might be more sensitive to the sun after a trim. Protect them from the sun by stocking up on some pet-safe sun cream to shield them while they’re out and about.

Exercise early or late

On hot days, it’s important to exercise your dog safely to prevent overheating. It can be more comfortable for both you and your pooch if you avoid the hottest part of the day, taking walkies during early morning or late evening. Don’t be afraid to also keep walkies short and sweet on hot days – or think about skipping a walk to be safe! Instead keep your pup occupied with extra training, games or playtime in the shade.

Don’t forget that pavements and roads can also become hot enough to burn your dog’s paws. Before setting off, always to check the temperature of the ground with your bare hand or foot – if it’s too hot for you, it’s too hot for your pup!


Are some dogs more likely to overheat than others?

Most dogs can feel uncomfortable on hot days, just like us. However due to breed or health conditions, some dogs may struggle more than others. This means that the below doggies may need a little more TLC to help them keep cool and hydrated:

  • Flat-faced dogs with short noses such as such as Pugs, Bulldogs and Pekingese can struggle to lose heat through panting and are more at risk of developing heat stroke. It’s important to take extra care to make sure they don’t get over-heated in hot weather!
  • Doggies with thicker coats such as German Shepherds, Huskies or Chow Chows are also more likely to get hot quickly. Regular grooming is important to helping keep fluffy dogs cool!
  • Giant dog breeds such as Bernese Mountain Dogs or St Bernards can struggle to keep themselves cool, simply because of their larger size!
  • Older dogs or dogs with ongoing health problems are generally more sensitive to hot weather, so be aware that they could overheat more easily than other doggies.
  • Overweight dogs who are carrying extra weight can also struggle to keep themselves cool, as their body is under additional strain and has more insulation due to their shape.
  • Active dogs can also struggle in hot weather, especially if they don’t stop playing or running around when they’re getting too warm. If you have a very energetic dog, try to keep them calm and avoid very active games such as fetch on hot days. They might get carried away and develop heatstroke when exercising in the heat!

To help keep your dog cool, take a look at our range of cooling products!

Share this article on:  PDSA | 29 July 2021


Pet care tips, news, supporter stories and vet Q&As