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How To Keep Your Dog Cool in the Hot Texas Summer

Mar 13th, 2023

Heading outside this summer with your dog? Great! Have fun!

Our Austin apartments are close to some great parks, trails and green spaces. All of which are great for spending time in the fresh air.  Here’s how to keep your four-legged friend happy, healthy and, more importantly, cool under that hot Texas sun!

Signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke in dogs

There’s a popular misconception out there that dogs can’t sweat, but that’s not exactly true. At least, they don’t sweat like humans do. 

Humans sweat through sweat glands located in the dermis layer of our skin, though they’re more concentrated in certain areas like our armpits, foreheads and palms. As we sweat and the moisture evaporates, our skin cools off and, as a result, our body temperature drops. 

Dogs sweat, too, but through two different kinds of sweat glands. The first type of sweat gland is one that actually releases pheromones, not moisture, and they’re located all over a dog’s body. They don’t help with lowering body temperature, but they do give off lots of information about the dog, which other dogs can sense in the smell. 

The other kind of sweat glands dogs have are merocrine glands, which are more similar to the sweat glands us humans have. They help lower temperature in the same way as ours do, too, but the only places they are found are on a dog’s paw pads, since that’s the only place on a dog’s body that isn’t covered by fur. 

Panting is the only way that dogs can really cool down their bodies in a significant enough way to withstand high temperatures. The movement of air through the nose, mouth and lungs helps the hot, moist air leave their bodies and cool down the blood. 

Panting is also one of the more noticeable signs of heat exhaustion in dogs – the hotter they are, the more they’ll pant. Here are some other signs of heat exhaustion that you can keep an eye out for in your pup.

  • Dry noses
  • Excessive drooling
  • Warm to the touch 
  • Rapid heart rate 
  • Visible tiredness and/or sunken eyes (signs of dehydration)
  • Lack of urine
  • Weakness or lethargy
  • Dizziness
  • Diarrhea 
  • Vomiting
  • Muscle tremors
  • Blood present in the mouth or stool

It’s up to us to keep a careful eye on our dogs while out in high temperatures, since our dogs don’t have the ability to communicate these subtle signs until it’s too late. If you suspect heat exhaustion or, even more serious a condition, heat stroke, then drop what you’re doing and immediately carry your dog to a cool, shady area with good air circulation. Here’s what you do next.

How to prevent heat exhaustion in dogs

It gets hot under that Texas summer sun, and if the high temps are too much for us, then chances are they’re too high for your dog, too. 

To avoid all those terrible symptoms of heat stroke and heat exhaustion in your dog, follow these tips and tricks for keeping your dog cool even when temps are running high. 

Plan walks accordingly

Daily walks are great for you and your pup, but even half an hour in ultra-high temps might be too much for your pup to handle.

Plan your walks — both your daily walk or a fun weekend stroll — around temperatures. Try going out in the morning or evening when the weather is cooler, or check the forecast for when there’s more of a breeze or the sun is obscured with clouds. You may not be able to avoid the heat altogether, but try to avoid the hottest and sunniest parts of the day if you can. 

Bring water

Bring extra water, actually.

Make a plan to bring a bottle of water and a bowl for your pup to drink out of no matter where you go, whether it be on your daily walk or a longer hike. Bring extra, too, just in case the conditions are more severe than expected. 

Also, here’s how you can calculate how much water your dog needs per day!

Be aware of hot surfaces

Ever tried going barefoot on a concrete sidewalk in the heat of the day? Yeah, not fun.

Dogs’ paws are much tougher than our own human feetsies, but they are still susceptible to heat from hot surfaces. Sand, concrete, stone and tar can get very hot during the summer, so sticking to shady areas with grass, dirt or wood is better for you and your pup. 

You can always check the surface temperature by placing your hand flat on the ground and leaving it there for 10 seconds. If you think “huh, that’s pretty hot” or have to pull your hand away before then, then it’s probably too hot for your dog, too. 

Exercise them in other ways

If it’s just ridiculously hot outside and you’re feeling that hundred-degree lethargy, then don’t stress about skipping the daily walk. Give your dog some brain games to work on and they’ll be tired and tuckered out without ever stepping foot outside. 

Here are some ways you can mentally stimulate your dog using toys, food, tricks and treats! 

P.S.: this works great for cold winter days, too!

Plan pet-friendly errands

A hot car is no place to keep a dog, especially in Texas summer heat!

If you’re planning on taking your dog out while running errands, then make sure you can either take your dog inside with you or keep them in a running car while you’re gone. Plan your errands around going places where your dog will be able to stay cool and healthy, rather than leaving them waiting around in a hot car.

Groom dogs regularly

Dog fur does a great job keeping them nice and toasty in the winter, but it also keeps them really hot in the summer. Just imagine wearing your favorite puffy jacket all day long in Texas heat — not fun.

If your dog has thick or curly fur, then keep them groomed and brushed regularly during the summer months so that their skin stays cool and bacteria-free. 

Go for a swim

Swimming is a great way to exercise your dog while also keeping them cool, especially in Texas! There are plenty of great swimming spots around Austin, so you’re sure to find something your dog likes, too.

If you do go swimming in a lake or river, follow these tips to ensure your dog stays safe and healthy when swimming outdoors.

Here’s to a happy and cool summer under the shining Texas sun!

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Featured photo courtesy Pixabay/RebeccasPictures

Author of Article

Colleen Ford is a South African who now lives in Spokane, Washington. She loves to travel, camp (in warm weather) and bake.

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