How to Keep Your Dog Cool

by Ragtimelil

The heat of the summer is hard on dogs. Their cooling mechanism is not the most efficient and they can easily overheat. Here's some ideas for keeping them cool and safe.

I recently moved back to Texas from New England. It gets hot up there in the north, but it isn’t the soul-searing heat of the south. To make it worse, I’m living in a tin box, my 25 ft. camper that is parked in full sun. There aren’t enough trees here to go around. I have an air conditioner, yet from 3 pm to 6 pm in the afternoon, it’s blistering hot, even with the ac and three fans going.
I’m pretty miserable, but my two Border collies are even hotter. Dogs do not perspire like humans and some other animals do. The way dogs cool down is by the act of panting. It’s a pretty limited way to cool down. I thought the other day that my older dog had died. He was lying flat out and barely moving. He wasn’t dead though, just hot.

Getting Wet

I've been trying to let them get wet. The younger dog loves to lie in water, either in the lake or in a wading pool. The older dog, not so much. In addition, I don’t have a yard for them and bringing dripping wet dogs into the camper is a mess.

I tried spritzing them with water in a spray bottle, but they don’t appreciate it and they dry off too fast to do much good. I just remembered an old trick we used to do for our dogs to keep them cool, especially if they were active in the heat.

 

The Wet Down Coat

wet downI dug out two old terrycloth towels and wetted them down. I draped them over the dogs back and tucked them under the collar to keep them on. The wet towel cools down the dog’s body as the water evaporates. Within ten minutes, my dogs and stopped panting almost completely. As the towel dries off, I mist it until it’s good and wet.

If I had two more towels, I’d wet them down and keep them in the fridge. When the two they are wearing dry out, I’d replace them with the cold ones and wet down the dry ones and put those in the fridge.

Tie One On

It’s a challenge to keep the towels on the dogs, though. I learned from previous attempts that the best thing to do is to cut a neck hole for the dog and make two ties on either side of the dog’s chest. These get crossed under the dog’s body and tied on the back. These stay on.

 

Fold and Cut
Fold and Cut
Unfold
Unfold
Moss in his Wet Down Coat
Moss in his Wet Down Coat

Buy a Coat

It may look strange to put a blanket on a dog on a blistering hot day, but these wet-down coats, as they are called, do work. I once drove home with a friend from a dog show on a sunny afternoon. My golden retriever was in the back of her hatchback in the full sun. I put a wet down coat on her and she was perfectly comfortable. We stopped several times to make sure she was ok. When I stuck my hand under the towel, it was amazingly cool under there.

This wasn’t an original idea by me. People have been using them for years, and even sell them ready made.

Last but Not Least

Keep cool water available for the dog. Drink cool water yourself. Exercise in the cool hours of the morning or evening. If a dog starts to wobble or stumble, get him in water fast! Give the dog plenty of shade if he is outside or keep him inside by the air conditioner or fan.

 

Also dogs can suffer from the heat, but cooling dog bandanas can help them to stay cool ;-) Learn how they work and why dogs love them!
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Updated: 09/08/2012, Ragtimelil
 
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Ragtimelil on 09/05/2012

Smart dog! We're doing ok. I've been moving the fans around for optimum cooling and just bought a drop cloth to make a canopy. We will have shade soon!

BrendaReeves on 09/05/2012

I feel for you and your dogs living in that camper without any shade. I'm amazed that the towel works. I'd think it would get warm in a couple of minutes. I have my dogs shaved down for the summer. They spend most of their time indoors where there's air conditioning. My golden still gets to warm, but when that happens she gets into the bathtub and sleeps.

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