Keeping your dog cool is one of the most important parts of looking after their health. Just like people, it’s easy for dogs to become overheated, which can rapidly cause serious side effects, like dehydration and internal strain.
During periods of hot weather, it’s particularly important to ensure your dog is staying as cool as possible. If you’re using ice cubes to cool down in bed at night, imagine how hot your dog might be, wrapped in all that fur. Depending on the type of dog you have, you may also need to consider ways of keeping them cool throughout the winter months too. This is particularly crucial if you tend to keep the heating on all night to stay warm.
Today, we’re going to look at some of the tools you can use to keep your dog cool at night, from damp towels to cold water and plenty of fresh air.
Understanding How Dogs Handle Heat
First, you’ll need to know how a dog like yours is going to handle heat. For some dogs, a small amount of extra warmth won’t be a big problem – for others, even the slightest change in the temperature scale can be catastrophic.
Younger puppies and older dogs are more likely to be influenced by the heat than dogs in their prime, so keep an eye out for heavy panting if your dog is very young or a littler older. Older dogs and younger puppies aren’t as good as regulating their body temperature as healthy adult dogs.
It’s also worth paying attention to your dog’s coat. As you might expect, dogs with longer and thicker coats like Huskies are more suited to low temperatures. This means that a warm summer day that feels just right to you might be terrible for your dog.
The color of your dog’s coat will also influence its ability to deal with hotter temperatures, because darker colors are more likely to absorb heat from the sun. This isn’t as likely to be a problem with cooling down a dog at night though, as there’s no warmth to absorb from the sun.
Factors Which Might Impact Your Dog’s Temperature
Aside from your dog’s age and breed, there are also other factors which might influence their temperature at night. For instance, where you live is often a significant factor. If you’re in a country where it tends to stay warm through the night, then this is going to influence both your dog’s temperature, and yours. Think about where your dog sleeps too. If he’s close to heating element in your home, like a radiator, then it’s going to heat him up a lot faster. Switching the location of your dog’s bed to somewhere closer to a window or air conditioner can be a great way to cool them down.
Remember, it’s important for you to keep an eye out for signs of overheating in your dog. Instead of sweating, dogs moderate their body temperature by panting. Dogs do have sweat glands in their paw pads, but these aren’t the best tool for dealing with excess heat. This is why you’ll often notice your dog panting, rather than sweating. Panting helps to get rid of the excess heat through condensation.
If your dog has been sick, or is suffering from an illness, there’s also a chance they may end up getting too hot much faster too. Pay attention to any guidance or advice your vet gives you for caring for your pooch.
Recognising an Overheated Dog
On hot summer nights, when you’re also struggling with the warmth, it can be difficult to tell that your dog is having a hard time. To protect your pup, you need to keep a close eye out for signs of heatstroke. This could mean keeping your dog with you when you go to bed if you can’t watch over them elsewhere. At the hottest times of the year, when you’re handling extra warm weather, look out for signs like:
- Panting: As mentioned above, panting is the most common way for your dog to regulate their temperature. Most dogs will pant most of the time, particularly during the summer, but excessive panting can be a dangerous sign.
- Disorientation: Disorientation in a dog is another sign overheating to be aware of. Disorientation might appear in things like your dog being unable to stand or walk normally or walking in circles.
- Bright red or blue gums: If your dog has brightly-coloured gums, this indicates something is seriously wrong. Make sure you see a vet immediately.
- Collapsing: While a dog might collapse for a variety of reasons, none of them are positive. If your dog suddenly passes out when you’re walking them, or hanging out at home, this is a sign that they’ve had too much sun.
- Vomiting: Sickness is one of the most common signs your dog just isn’t feeling right. There are lots of reasons why your dog might vomit, but all require further investigation.
Ways to Cool Down Your Dog
Keeping your dog cool is a full-time job in the summer months. If you know your dog is struggling with the hot temperatures, you can start by creating a cool surface for them to sleep on, away from any sources of excessive heat. A cooling mat can be a good investment here, and it’s an excellent way to ensure your dog stays safe on a hot night.
Other ways to keep your dog cool at night include:
- Keep them hydrated
A full bowl full of fresh water is a must-have for keeping your pup safe during the hotter months of the year. You should always ensure your dog has plenty of access to fresh water, no matter how hot or cold it is. The more dehydrated your dog is, the more likely they are to be susceptible to other health issues and heatstroke. Look for signs like a dry mouth or sunken eyes indicating an unhappy dog.
Cold water should be easy to access for your dog at night, and you can even look into getting fountain to keep it fresh if needs be. During the day, you can use a garden hose to fill a paddling pool with water if you need to give your pooch some extra relief.
- Turn on the air conditioner
Getting a fan going is one of the best ways to look after your dog when they’re overheating. Since dogs don’t really sweat, they don’t experience the cooling properties we do with an air conditioner. However, if the fan is pushing cold air towards the dog and circulating the hot air out of the house, this will help them to feel more comfortable.
If possible, it’s also worth opening the window a crack, so there’s plenty of fresh air coming into your home during the night. Whatever you do, make sure you’re not just fanning hot air towards your dog at high speed, as this probably won’t help.
- Use a water mister
You can’t necessarily use the garden hose to cool down your dog at night, but you can keep both of you cool with a spray bottle or water mister. Not only does this help to keep your skin cool with the assistance of some ice cubes, but it also brings more moisture back into your dog’s skin, which is ideal if they’re also feeling a little dehydrated.
If a spray bottle or misting fan isn’t an option, you can also use a super absorbent towel drenched in cold water and draped over your dog. This is a great way to reduce a dog’s body temperature quickly and effectively. Just make sure you don’t leave the towel on after it warms up.
- Create a cool bed
As mentioned above, it’s best to give your dog a cool space to rest at night, away from any heating sources, and next to a source of cool air, like a window. You can also take other measures to make the bed cooler and more appealing to your pup. For instance, put down a cooling mat and remove any warm or heavy blankets your dog might have been using in winter.
Another great option is to freeze some water in empty soft drink bottles and place them around the bed to help cool down the air. This also gives your dog something fun to lick when they’re feeling overly warm. If there’s a particularly cool room in your home away from electronics, use this for your dog’s sleeping area. It’s also best to keep dogs downstairs where possible, because heat rises.
- Use icy treats
Which dog doesn’t love treats? Give your dog some fun ways to cool down by freezing water in plastic containers to make large ice cubes. Your dog will be able to lick and chew on this to cool down at night – just expect you may have a little mess to deal with in the morning. You can also consider freezing healthy snacks into little ice cubes.
Whenever the temperature rises, simply pop out one of these cubes and allow your dog to lick their way down to a frozen treat. Options can include everything from broccoli and boiled chicken to strawberries and bananas.
- Keep your dog groomed
As mentioned above, the kind of dog you have, and their fur, will often make a big difference to how much heat your pup absorbs during the hotter summer months. If your dog has a lot of excess fur, then it’s going to be much harder for them to cool down when the temperature rises. Make an appointment with a groomer, or consider clipping excess fur yourself if you have the skills.
It’s also worth washing your dog regularly and keeping their skin clean. Just as dirt can get matted into our hair, it can also clog your dog’s hair, making it harder for the skin to breathe. A regular bath keeps your dog smelling great, and it’s also a good way to prevent them from overheating too.
Keeping your Dog Cool at Night
Keeping your dog cool during the summer is something all pet owners need to be aware of. During the day time, you’ll need to be on-watch for any signs of heatstroke and other dangerous symptoms in your dog. If you do notice a problem, remember to call a vet immediately and wrap your dog in a wet towel (soaked in cold water). This is one of the quickest ways to cool your pet, and it should give you some extra time to get help.
At night, you can use some of the same strategies as you would during the day, including the wet towel trick, and giving your dog icy treats. It’s also worth making sure there’s a cool place where your dog can sleep, even if this means you can’t snuggle with them under the blanket when you go to bed.