Learn How To Cool Down A Dog In Australia: Fact Checked By Our Vet
As the Australian summer fast approaches, it’s time to think ahead. Put your autumn clothes away. Break out the summer wardrobe. Stock up on water reserves. And, of course, make a plan for your dog.
Dogs can suffer hugely in the Australian heat. Unfortunately, many owners leave their dogs to fend for themselves because animals can cope with a lot. However, heatstroke is extremely dangerous in dogs and entirely avoidable.
In this guide, we’ll walk you through our top tips for how to cool a dog down. We’ll look at preventative measures as well as retroactive tools to help regulate your pup’s internal temperature.
There’s no need for your dog to suffer this summer. Here’s everything you need to know!
Can Dogs Cool Themselves Down Naturally?
When clicking into an article about how to cool down your dog, you may think
Don’t dogs regulate their own internal temperatures?
The answer is yes and no. Temperature control is one area where our incredibly inefficient flesh sacks as humans are slightly more advanced than our four-legged friends.
For one, dogs don’t sweat.
“It is important to remember that dogs cannot control their body temperature by sweating as humans do since they only have a relatively small number of sweat glands located in their footpads. Their primary way of regulating body temperature is by panting.” - Krista Williams, BSc, DVM, CCRP; Ernest Ward, DVM from VCA Hospitals, (1)
Panting can only do so much. So it’s imperative that we keep a watchful eye on our dogs during the warmer months.
The Golden Rules of Keeping Dogs Cool in the Summer
First, let’s start with the basics of canine summer care. These are the things you absolutely must do to prevent your dog from getting any major heat-related injuries during the summer months.
Never EVER leave your dog in the car
Leaving your dog in the car is illegal in certain states in Australia. For example, in Victoria, the law states it is illegal to “leave an animal unattended inside a car for more than 10 minutes when outside temperatures are at or above 28 degrees Celsius”. (2)
Keep your dog inside during extreme heatwaves
As a rule of thumb, if the news is reporting extreme heatwaves, it’s not a good time to take your dog out for walks. Not only is the atmosphere stuffy, but the pavements can also be extremely hot. This can lead to blistered paws. Unpleasant for all involved. Save your dog and yourself by keeping them inside during these freak weather occurrences.
Walk your dog during the cooler hours of the day
The easiest way to keep dogs cool in the summer while still maintaining their exercise schedule is to alter walking times. Early mornings and late evenings are perfect for dog walking during the summer. There are long periods of sunlight and the cooler weather is more comfortable for you and your dog to have a peaceful stroll.
How to Cool a Dog Down in Hot Weather
So those are the preventative measures to keep your dog cool during the summer. What about if the weather is already hot and you need to spring into action to keep your dog safe?
Here’s what to do:
Set up shade outdoors
If you have a yard with plenty of shade, you’re lucky! Some of us need to be a little more creative when it comes to crafting shady spots in the garden. Raised dog beds with canopies are a great solution. The cover provides shade while the elevated sleeping platform provides ventilation. It’s a win-win situation!
You can also use umbrellas and other garden furniture to make shade in the yard.
Use cooling jackets and foot protection
If your dog is struggling with the heat, there is certain dog apparel that can help. The most effective are cooling jackets, you can also get cooling collars or even just wet a bandana.
Just a quick warning, your dog shouldn’t be wearing a cooling jacket for long periods. They don’t have a good enough internal mechanism to keep their temperature warm. If you use the jacket, only put it on for short periods when your dog is in the heat for a long time.
Foot protection is equally helpful in hot weather. If you go outback camping and there’s a chance the heat is going to climb, dog shoes or dog socks are essential tools. They protect your dog’s delicate feet from blisters and welts from extremely hot landscapes.
Ensure your dog has a fresh supply of water on the go
Your dog should have access to freshwater wherever you are.
“In general, dogs should drink approximately 60 millilitres of water (1/4 of a cup) per kilo of body weight each day. However, there are many factors that can affect how much your dog will drink, so you should not be restricting your dog’s water intake.” - Jennifer Larsen, DVM, PhD, DAVCN from PetMD (3)
In the garden, a good dog water fountain could be a great investment. Fountains are ideal because they keep water cool with the locomotion of the water. Alternatively, a ceramic dog bowl naturally keeps water cool too and will be a little more cost effective.
When you’re on the go, you have a few options too. There are dog water bowls that have a non-spill technology. They work well for long car journeys.
Dog water bottles are also extremely helpful during walks and travelling. There are plenty of options for long walks, short walks, hikes and car journeys. With all of these options to keep your dog hydrated, you can keep your dog safe from heatstroke very easily.
Groom your dog appropriately
Each dog will have different needs during the summer. Keeping your dog cool in hot weather will depend on their specific fur coat type and grooming needs. For the most part, you don’t need to remove undercoats to keep your dog cool. It doesn’t change too much for them temperature-wise. But having an effective undercoat rake to tease out excess fur helps lighten the load a little bit.
Some breeds like poodles can even be shaved at the beginning of the summer to literally offload them from excess fur.
How to Keep a Dog Cool Inside the House
Let’s say that the weather is so hot, it’s even too toasty inside. Your dog’s tolerance for heat indoors is lower than yours, so you’ll need to keep an eye on them on particularly hot days.
Here are our top tips on how to keep a dog cool inside.
Invest in a cooling mat
Cooling mats are honestly a silver bullet when it comes to how to keep your dog cool. They’re versatile enough to be used indoors and outdoors. The best part is your dog will soon associate laying on the cooling mat as a quick dose of yummy coolness when they feel themselves overheating. As long as the mat is accessible to them, they’ll use the mat intuitively whenever they need it.
Create a shaded and sheltered crate area
Crates are fantastic for all dogs. As dogs are denning animals, a crate can be a symbol of comfort and security for them. The same effect can be had with kennels. My dog loves his kennel during the summer because it’s a shady and private place to rest.
Indoors, you can transform your dog’s crate into a cool kennel too. Adding a cooling mat helps keep the temperature low inside if the heat is extreme. Alternatively, crate covers help protect the crate from the exterior temperature. If you have a black nylon crate cover, the interior of the crate will naturally be a little cooler than the surrounding room temperature.
Consider a raised dog bed
Raised dog beds are characterised by their stretching sleeping platform over a high steel frame. Because the bed is off the ground, your dog gets a lot of ventilation as they rest. Raised dog beds tend to be made out of naturally cooling materials too like oxford nylon and steel.
You may not want to have your aircon blasting all day. Fans are a good alternative to aircon if you can focus it where your dog is resting.
Summer is Coming!
Summer is around the corner - the best time of the year! Make sure that you look out for your pup with the tips in this article to ensure it’s a joyous season for the whole family.
If your dog is displaying symptoms of heatstroke, your primary response should be to get them into a cooler space. This could be in a lukewarm bath or in the shade if outdoors. Then call your emergency vet for further advice.
If in doubt, call an emergency vet or visit a local animal hospital.
- Williams, K & Ward, E. “Heat Stroke in Dogs”. VCA Hospitals. Retrieved November 15, 2021. https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/heat-stroke-in-dogs
- “Travelling with dogs”. Animal Welfare Victoria. Retrieved November 15, 2021. https://agriculture.vic.gov.au/livestock-and-animals/animal-welfare-victoria/dogs/legal-requirements-for-dog-owners/travelling-with-dogs
- Larsen, J. August 11, 2020. “How Much Water Should a Dog Drink?”. PetMD. Retrieved November 15, 2021. https://www.petmd.com/dog/nutrition/evr_dg_the_importance_of_water
- “Heatstroke in Dogs”. August 10, 2010. PetMD. Retrieved November 15, 2021. https://www.petmd.com/dog/emergency/common-emergencies/e_dg_heat_stroke