Caring for your dog in the summer heat

While dogs in the northern hemisphere are playing in the snow and wearing snow boots and jackets, here in the southern hemisphere it is hot and sunny!
In Sydney last week we had several days over 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit) and fabulous blue skies. This is the perfect weather to get out of the house with your dog and enjoy those extended daylight hours at the park. But while you are having fun, don’t forget you will need to keep your dog cool and protect it from heat-related illness and injury.

Tips to help your dog beat the heat

Never leave your dog unattended in direct sunlight or in a closed car

Leaving your dog in a car can lead to dehydration, heat exhaustion and in some cases death. The temperature inside a car increases rapidly and the air supply is limited. Even when you think you will only be a few minutes you never know what might prolong your absence from the car, like a long queue in the supermarket or seeing an old friend and getting caught up in a chat.

Make sure your dog has access to clean, fresh and cool water

It is usually best to have two bowls full of water, just in case one gets empty, knocked over, heats up in the sun or becomes dirty. Don’t be afraid to overdo it with the water if you are leaving your dog alone for any amount of time.

Ensure that there is some shade in the garden for your dog to rest and get out of the sun

A leafy tree – or if need be an umbrella – can provide adequate shade, but access to a well ventilated structure such as a shed or verandah (porch) is ideal. During really hot days it is always best to keep your dog inside the house if possible, rather than leaving them outside.

Avoid strenuous activity during the hottest part of the day

Try walking your pooch first thing in the morning, or in the evening, and try to walk somewhere you know there are lots of trees and shaded areas. Avoid certain kinds of pavement, asphalt and sand as those surfaces can get extremely hot and burn your dog’s paws.

When going out with your dog make sure you have a bottle of cool water with you at all times

Dogs don’t sweat like us and they pant to release heat, so having a nice cool drink is one of the best ways to reduce their body temperature.

Dogs can get sunburnt just like us

White and light coloured dogs with pink skin are especially susceptible to sunburn. Apply pet sunscreen on the ears and nose 30 minutes before going out in the sun. If your dog stays outside every day, apply sunscreen daily.

Going to the beach

It is great fun going to the beach with your dog, just make sure there is plenty of fresh water and shade available. Also ensure your dog does not drink too much seawater (which my dog Cress has been known to do), as they can dehydrate quickly.


Swimming is great exercise for you and your dog, but it uses muscles not often used. Make sure your dog doesn’t tire especially if they have a long coat.

Heat beating accessories

If you dog is particularly susceptible to the heat or your home is very hot you might need to invest in a cooling collar or mat.

I hope you enjoy the rest of your summer with your furry pal and let us know about tips you have for keeping your dog cool 🙂

The above image was taken by Daniel Burka, and features his dog Ursula.

Caring for your dog in the summer heat 





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Lisa Miller

Lisa Miller is a blogger, digital strategist, business coach, zoologist and crazy dog-lady! Lisa lives in Sydney, Australia with her husband, two kids, two dogs and two cats. That equates to a lot of fun and vacuuming. Her dog’s names are Cresswell and Edwina (or Cress and Eddie).
  • We use a kids clam shell wading pool for Ginger, she just loves to lie in the few centimetres of water on really hot days. What she would really like is a cool shady tree where she could dig down to the cool sand and lie in that.

  • Lisa

    One think people with long-haired dogs need to be careful of is how they wet their dogs to cool them down. Swimming and pools are fine but if you just squirt them and then they lay around in the heat it can actually increase the level of humidity around their body.

    That’s what’ I’ve read… I have whippets so they have pretty short hair!

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  • I see many people who dress up their puppies in all sorts of new puppy supplies they bought off the latest pet-supply sale. This can also be harmful in the summer heat as the heat can get trapped under the clothes on top of the dog’s fur. Some harnesses are so elaborate they look like the dog is carrying army supplies. I feel a simple dog a collar and leash is sufficient for walking a dog in the summer heat. Leave the accoutrements for the colder seasons. However, one pet supply you might want to look into is a good dog travel bowl that you can take along with you so your dog will always be hydrated.