How to keep your dog cool during hot weather?

As temperatures climb, it's essential to keep your dog cool and comfortable to prevent overheating. Hot weather can be tough on our furry friends, who can't sweat like we do.

This guide will explain how the dog body keeps itself cool and provide practical tips on what we can do to help dogs stay comfortable, hydrated, and happy during those sweltering summer days. Whether you’re planning a day out or staying in, these strategies will help you manage the heat for your pet effectively.

Energetic Labrador Retriever enjoying a sunny day at the lakeside, with lush green mountains in the background and clear blue skies overhead.


Do dogs Sweat?

Yes, dogs do sweat, but they only sweat a little. Most dog sweat is released in the nose and paw pads. And, unlike humans, sweating is not an effective way for dogs to release heat.

Here is why, dogs have two types of sweat glands and none are designed for cooling:

Adorable fluffy dog lying down, looking up with a relaxed expression, embodying pet cooling strategies during hot weather.
  • Merocrine sweat glands are made of secretory cells, located mostly in the dog’s nose and paw pads.When a dog is hot or nervous, small amount of sweat is released on their nose and paws. That’s the reason why sometimes on a hot day, you could see them leaving behind wet footprints.

    The sweat evaporates from the hairless paw pads and helps release a very small amount of body heat. Same goes with the wet nose, which is why you often feel the nudge of a wet nose on a warm day.

    The sweat from the merocrine sweat glands in a dog’s paw pads does not have the odour associated with human sweat. In fact, human body odour is the result of skin bacteria mixing with sweat.

  • Apocrine sweat glands are throughout the dog’s body and are not used for cooling. Instead, these produce something similar to body odour - pheromones for dog-to-dog communication. However this odour is not detectable by human.

How do dogs naturally cool themselves?

You might wonder,

if dogs managed to thrive in harsh environments in the past, why do we need to be so concerned about whether they can handle the heat today?

The reality is that the way we live with dogs has drastically changed compared to historical times. Society and dogs' lifestyles have evolved much more rapidly than their biology. Each dog and breed is still genetically adapted to the specific environment from thousands of years ago—be it the desert, snowy mountains, or cool forests.

In earlier times, dogs often lived outdoors or indoors but without air conditioning. This allowed them a period of time to acclimate to rising temperatures, allowing them to get used to the summer heat. Nowadays, dogs that are accustomed to air-conditioned environments may find a midday break or a sudden summer heatwave particularly overwhelming.

Moreover, working dogs in the past could escape the heat by sleeping during the day in shaded areas like under bushes or in holes covered with leaves.

Aside from their living habits, how do dogs naturally cool themselves? Unlike humans, dogs cannot sweat sufficiently to release heat effectively. Instead, they rely on other methods such as panting and vasodilation to cool down, even their fur coat help keep your dog cool in the summer.

Happy Irish Setter with tongue out, cooling off in summer shade, exemplifies heat relief for dogs.
  • Panting

    When dogs pant, they breathe rapidly, increasing airflow much like a natural air conditioner. As the air moves over their moist tongue and the inner surfaces of their lungs, it creates a breeze that accelerates moisture evaporation. This process effectively cools them down by dissipating heat.

  • Vasodilation

    Another way dogs cool off is via vasodilation (expansion of blood vessels). When the vessels dilate, warm blood is moved closer to the body’s surface, in the more exposed areas of skin where it can be cooled. The most effective areas for vasodilation are the face, ears and feet—this is why these areas may seem red when they’re hot.

  • Fur coat

    The dog’s coat is an important feature in helping them regulate body temperature, as it acts as an insulator between the skin and outside weather. Besides keeping cold out, many people don’t realize it also helps to keep many dogs cool in warm weather as fur slows the transfer of heat from the air to the body.

    Therefore shaving won't always have the same effect on your pet as you’d expect the effect as taking off your winter coat.
    Groomer combing a white Pomeranian, showcasing grooming for dog heat management.

    • 🐶 Double-Coated Breeds: Avoid Shaving

      For double-coated breeds (such as German Shepherds, Siberian Huskies, and Golden Retrievers), shaving can disrupt their natural cooling mechanism and increase their risk of overheating. Their undercoat provides insulation in both hot and cold weather, and shaving it can leave them vulnerable since the coat act as effective sunblock and bug shield to protect the delicate skin underneath.

    • ✂️ Single-Coated Breeds: Consider a Trim

      For single-coated breeds (including Poodles, Shih Tzus, and Yorkies), a light trim may be helpful in managing their coat during the summer. These breeds can be shaved without the detrimental effects to thermoregulation. However, it's important to avoid shaving them completely, as their fur still provides protection from the sun and insects.

    • ☀️ Alternatives to Shaving

      Instead of shaving your dog, consider alternative ways to keep them cool during the summer, such as try keeping them in a shaded and ventilated environment, give plenty of water and avoiding strenuous activity during the hottest part of the day.

    It is important to note that these means of cooling are not always enough, and pets can start to overheat very easily. It is crucial to pay attention to your dog’s behaviour and spot any signs early.

    How do I know if my dog is too hot? What temperature is too high for dogs?


    🌡️ High Body Temperatures for Dogs

    A dog's normal body temperature ranges from 38.3 to 39.2°C (101 to 102.5°F). Temperatures above 40°C (104°F) are considered high and require veterinary attention.

    🌡️ Ambient Temperature for Dogs in the UK

    As a general rule, most dogs are comfortable at temperatures between 15-25°C (59-77°F). However, this can vary depending on the dog's age, breed, size, coat length, health, and fitness level.

    For temperatures above 25°C (68°F), it's best to be cautious and avoid strenuous activities with your dog. Consider walking them during cooler parts of the day, like early mornings or evenings.

    Always make sure the space where you leave your dog is well ventilated. Even temperatures exceeding 22°C can become dangerous in enclosed spaces like cars. On a sunny day, the temperature inside a car can quickly rise to 47°C (117°F), which can be fatal.

    🐶 Individual Dog Considerations

    French Bulldog resting indoors, staying cool away from the heat, illustrating pet heat safety.

    Breeds with short muzzles, also known as brachycephalic breeds, are particularly susceptible to heatstroke due to their anatomical characteristics. These breeds have difficulty regulating their body temperature through panting. Some examples of brachycephalic breeds include Bulldogs, Pugs, Boxers, Shih Tzus, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and Boston Terriers. It's important to take extra precautions with these breeds during hot weather to prevent heat-related illnesses.
    Signs of dog overheating can include panting heavily, restlessness, stopping and laying down repeatedly during a walk or run, trying to drink water frequently, difficulty breathing, excessive drooling, vomiting, and diarrhea. It's crucial to pay attention to these signs, especially during hot weather or vigorous exercise, as they could indicate that your dog is struggling to regulate their body temperature and may be at risk of heatstroke. If you notice any of these signs, it's important to take immediate steps to help your dog cool down and seek veterinary attention if necessary.


      What can owners do to help?

      Owners can take several measures to help dogs stay cool in hot weather.

      • Creating a comfortable environment:

        1. Provide access to shade: Ensure that your dog has access to shaded areas where they can escape direct sunlight and heat.
        2. Good air flow around the dog: Keep the room ventilated. Using a lifted crate off the ground can provide additional cooling. When outside, a portable fan can help.
        3. Limit outdoor activities: Schedule walks and playtime during the cooler parts of the day, such as early morning or late evening, to minimise exposure to high temperatures.

      • Preventing overheating:

      1. Never leave a dog in a parked car: Avoid leaving your dog in a parked car, as temperatures can quickly rise to dangerous levels, even with the windows cracked.
      2. Be mindful of hot surfaces: Avoid walking your dog on hot pavement or surfaces that can burn their paws.
      3. Watch for signs of overheating: Be vigilant for signs of overheating mentioned above and take immediate steps to cool your dog down if necessary.

      • Lowering body temperature of your dog:

      1. Offer plenty of fresh water: Keep your dog well-hydrated by providing ample fresh water throughout the day.
      2. Provide cold treats such as frozen fruits and yoghurt. You can also add ice cube to your dog’s water bowl.
      3. Use cooling mats at home: Dog cooling mats utilise a special gel-like formula, which are pressure-activated to absorb your dog's body heat and dissipate it into the surrounding environment. This mechanism cools the mat down to around 5-10° lower than the external environment.
      4. Wear a cooling vest / scarf on walks: there are dog vests that are designed to aid with cooling the core of the body. Such as evaporation-based vests that works by soaking in water, the process of evaporation will take heat away from the surface of the dog. The material of the vest is reflective of UV rays to block out sunlight. There are also vests or scarfs with ice pack pockets.


      To wrap up, keeping your dog cool during the summer is all about smart, proactive care. Beyond the basics of hydration, consider inventive strategies like cooling mats and specially designed vests. Always be alert to the signs of discomfort in your furry friend, and remember, a little preparation can ensure your dog enjoys the summer just as much as you do! Stay cool, stay safe, and make the most of the sunny days ahead.