Hot Weather Doggy Hacks You Need to Know!

If your Dog's Tongue is "too long" take Note!

If your Dog's Tongue is "too long" take Note!

I was sitting here just the other day, wondering what to write about (it isn’t always easy to come up with topics for twice weekly publishing) and I was thinking it wasn’t long ago that I was writing an article on cold weather dog hacks!

Who else has thought of throwing down a tarp the night before a snow storm so you can just peel it up the next day for your dog to have a path in the snow ;)

So I realized it was time for a hot weather dog hacks article!

First of all, most of this article will focus on the dangers of warm weather; but let’s talk about all the fun things first!

Miracle Grow

I have written a whole article on this, however it is probably one of my favorite doggy hacks.

Put a little bit of doggy shampoo in an unused miracle grow container and hook it to your hose for a fast, simple, and more effective dog wash!  The water from the hose goes and mixes with your favorite dog shampoo and sprays evenly into your dog’s fur.

This alleviates clumping of shampoo in certain areas (like behind their shoulders or along the back where most people squeeze the shampoo) and it ensures that the whole body is covered in shampoo and/or conditioner.

I like Fresh and Clean (original) dog shampoo, because I have found that that good scent can last at least 2 weeks if I leave the shampoo on long enough and work it in well prior to the rinse.  Who doesn’t want a sweet smelling dog for 2 weeks?  But it will work with any shampoos, from prescription to flea!

I used to have to bathe one of my dogs with allergies every other day, and this tip saved time in not only the bath process but also clean up!

***hint, in winter I hook the hose to my faucet and I can still use this in the shower… I just have to clean up my bathroom in the winter!

Ice Cream

dog ice cream RSZWho doesn’t love a good frosty tasty treat in summer?!

Dogs are lactose intolerant, so although some dogs can eat milk products and have no tummy issues, some will get very sick if we give them things with milk or cream in them.  If in doubt where your dog lands on that stomach chart, it is usually best to avoid lactose for your dog.

Instead you can make your dog his own frosty treat!

And, it is super simple!

If you use canned dog food at all, you can mix it with a little bit of water and pop it into some ice cube trays.  I used to have a dog with allergies on prescription food, so I would simply add some water and freeze some prescription canned dog food, and he thought it was a special treat!

You can also take whatever protein you desire (chicken, liver, beef, venison) boil it, shred or chop it and then mix about 2 cups of water prior to freezing.

Remember that dogs don’t need *flavor accessories things that we put on our food to make them taste better like onions and/or garlic are not only bad for dogs; they don’t need them to make chicken taste better.  Chicken (or whatever protein) already tastes great to them!  And, some spices or additives are toxic (some nuts and things like nutmeg).

If I am adding something special to their treats, I stick with things already found in their food and other healthy products, like fish oil!

For a list of companies who provide doggy goodies; for instance did you know you could get your dog a treat from Starbucks?  Puppucino!  Click here for more!

Your Dog Doesn’t Want to…

I can’t express this enough!

Funny pekingese with a very long tongue

Funny pekingese with a very long tongue

If you were able to ask your dog and he could think about it rationally; he would tell you sometimes he just doesn’t want to go.

I don’t know how many times I have been to the beach (in GA where it gets to be 100+ degrees AND humid) and I have seen a poor dog panting and suffering while trying to cool himself; and I always hurt for the dog.  Even if the dog is in the ocean, or lake 95% of the time or in the shade, he is still excruciatingly hot and miserable.

I also feel for dogs who are drug to things like fairs and parades during this kind of heat.  Not only can these kinds of activities and noise be difficult for dogs to understand and tolerate (think overwhelming smells and noises like fireworks and drums) it is also typically too hot for them even in the shade.

Don’t believe me, throw on a fur coat, fur pants no shoes and head to the beach or the parade.  You can get into the water, or under an umbrella; do you think you could get comfortably cool?

And, don't think just because your dog is small and can fit in your purse that you can provide enough shade.  Small dogs get just as hot as big dogs!

If it’s too hot, he’d rather stay at home.

If his feet are burning or will be in danger of burning through the day, he’d rather stay at home.

If he is going to hear loud noises like gunfire, fireworks, drums, loud music, or the constant smell of cooking food; he would probably rather stay home!  Think he wants to go to that concert with you or the race track?  Probably not!

Very few dogs actually like these things even in cool weather.  Remember his nose and his ears are much more precise than yours and these things if they are not a normal occurrence for him are probably at the least extremely overwhelming, if not terrifying.  And, remember, loud noises can physically hurt!

I understand that when you say “walk” or “ride” your dog always acts like he wants to go; but don’t punish him for not having the rational ability to think through everything you are asking of him.  If you wouldn’t want to do it in a fur coat with no shoes, magnifying the sound and the smells.

Dogs can hear 40HZ to 60kHZ while humans can hear 12HZ to 20kHZ and dogs can hear about 4 times farther than we humans can.  Think that cannon or band is loud for you?  Imagine how painful it is for your dog’s ears.

And his sense of smell is 100 million times more sensitive than yours. I’ve had Service Dog candidates completely shut down in a place like Bath and Body works because their senses can’t handle the overwhelming smells.

For more on your dog vs your abilities click here.

Let’s Talk About the Heat

I assume my dogs like summer like I (being furless) enjoy the cold winter.  I am pretty sure that baking in the heat is just as bad for them, as my skin burning when it is below zero.

And, I KNOW that my dogs much prefer playing in fall, winter, and spring far more than they do when it is hot.  My dogs actually LOVE seeing the snow and playing in it.   And, I am much less worried about doggy frost bite (because I don’t leave them outside unattended in the cold) than I am about doggy heat stroke.

The truth is that heat stroke kills more working/military dogs than anything except combat.

Dogs can’t radiate their heat like we can, our bodies sweat and cool themselves through our heat radiation and through our pores.

Dogs can only expel heat through their paw pads, and by panting.

And, radiation of heat through a cooler surface (like a cooling blanket or cooling vest or cool water) is more efficient than panting.

His Feet

burned_dog_paws.img_assist_customDogs can blister and burn their paw pads.

As a Service Dog trainer for many, many years, I learned to take off my shoes and press my foot to the hot ground for a minute or two.  If it was too hot for my feet, it was too hot for his feet!

I recently saw someone suggest pressing the topside of your hand to the ground, black top, sand, pavement etc for a minute or two and if it feels too hot then it is too hot for your dog.  I suppose some people’s hands are more sensitive than their bare feet.  Either is a good indication.

And, don’t just assume that your dog can walk on the grass in certain places.  If he is going to have to be on hard pavement, black top, sand, or in the back of a car or pick up truck; make sure that they aren’t even hotter.  Most of those surfaces soak up and multiply the heat.

Please save your dog’s feet!

Imagine burning all the skin off of your feet and then having to walk on them or walk through prickly grass.

Sound unbearable?  It probably is!

Risks for Heat Injury (typically in weather 70 degrees or higher)

  • Over work or play without time to cool
  • Living in air conditioning makes it harder for a dog’s body to adjust
  • Being over weight
  • Muzzles
  • Over estimating your dog’s stamina or condition
  • Medical or structural issues (dogs with short muzzles or those who can’t normally breathe well).

Warning Signs

Drawing his lips back and showing his teeth while panting is another sign he is too close to heatstroke

Drawing his lips back and showing his teeth while panting is another sign he is too close to heatstroke

  • Shade seeking behavior
  • Slower return for play
  • Loss of activity (a normally playful dog just wanting to lay down and pant)
  • Drawing lips back into a smile type face to increase the amount of mouth and tongue showing to pant.
  • Dark red tongue or gums
  • Very pale gums and tongue
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Seizure
  • ***Note heat stroke can cause permanent kidney damage, so even if your dog loses consciousness but you are able to revive him; he still needs to visit his vet afterward to make sure that he didn’t permanently damage his kidneys.


  • Know the risks and avoid them
  • LEAVE HIM HOME!!! If it is too hot, err on the side of caution and leave him home rather than risking his life.
  • Cool the dog down, but don’t use COLD water. Room temperature water or slightly cool water will not shock his body.  The longer he is hot, the more damage can be done; so cool him quickly.
  • Always allow access to water. He doesn’t drink because he wants to drink he drinks when it is hot because his body NEEDS that water.

If you are walking or active

If he does this, he is probably too hot!

If he does this, he is probably too hot!

  • Bring cool water
  • Wait for sunrise or sunset when it is cooler
  • Exercise near cool bodies of water so he can swim (remember if it has been in the 100s for many days chances are the water is no longer “cooling”)
  • Utilize shade
  • Look into cooling mats and cooling vests for AFTER exercise. Studies have shown that these don’t help prevent heat stroke while wearing them and exercising but they can help cool a dog after exercise
  • Don’t let it get to a dangerous level.

One Last Crucial Note

I was at an event earlier this spring, I believe it was memorial day weekend, and a lovely couple had brought their Great Dane to an outdoor festival.

It was HOT, probably hotter than it was supposed to be for that weekend.

The couple didn’t notice their dog was in severe danger until it was too late.

He passed out.

And although everyone tried to cool him and he was able to come back to consciousness and looked better enough for an emergency vet visit; he died in transit.

He was a young dog, that was well loved.  His people just didn’t know better until it was too late.  I still feel terrible for their loss.

So before you take your dog out for that hot concert, or festival, or hike; ask yourself if you are prepared for canine heat stroke, or if it is worth your dog’s life.

Remember, if it is too hot, he would rather stay home in the air conditioning with a good toy or treat and wait for you to get home, and the sun to go down before he goes out to play!

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  1. SUE DRAWDY says:



  2. Sandra Fernando says:

    Thank you so much for this article. I live in sunny, balmy Sri Lanka where it gets hot and muggy together. Looking back over my dogs’ behaviour, I remember the long tongues and the lips pulled back over their teeth. If I see it again, I’ll know to give them a quick rinse. Than you so much!


  3. linda parker says:

    Thank you for this wonderful article as I did not know this. I do not take my dogs for walks if it is hot!


  4. kay says:

    Found this very useful I have a french bulldog and need to be so aware of his well being when out and about, totally agree if warm to hot leave them at home


  5. Kathryn says:

    even dogs in fenced yards, with plenty of shade and a dripping hose into their water bucket kept in the shade can over heat if they get excited about something going on in the area — other dogs out roaming around, delivery vehicles, contractors working on the house next door, kids playing in their own yards – etc. anything that can get them to ‘running the fence’ or other exertion in the heat –


  6. Janine Gillen says:

    I truly appreciate this article. I didn’t realize the seriousness of all this until now. I will think twice before I take our pups out in the hot weather.
    Just to add something that we experienced and I found myself panicking we took our pup out in the Winter, for a walk. He started behaving strangely, as if he was in distress. We turned around and went home. I thought perhaps it was too cold with the snow on the ground. I had no clue. After speaking about the incident with a few people we were told that his paws were burning because of the salt they used on the roads. I was horrified for him.


  7. Maureen hay says:

    What a lovely article on hot weather with dogs and how bad it is for them .i have a Yorkshire terrier and since I have had him he has had 3 seizures he is 4 years old the vet said it could have been a reaction to the flea treatment as he was allergic to it but I stopped that and he has had 2 more seizures .now I am wondering if it is the heat only he goes out in the conservatory when it is hot if I am not looking and twice he has had a seizure after this. I will be extra careful now after reading your article many thanks I do love reading your e.mails so keep up your good work and educating so many of dog owners thankyou maureen


  8. Loretta says:

    When I am walking my little dog he pokes me with his nose (he stays right in heel position) when he is too hot or just ready to head home. He is too short to see unless I catch his shadow and see him panting. If I have slowed down and am hot so is he. Thanks for such a good article!


  9. Lorraine says:

    Thankyou so moch for your amazing article, I have 2 very well loved labs and would be distraught if I unwittingly caused them pain … Thankfully we do as you suggest and do leave them home , walk them at dusk but I was u aware of the signs of heatstroke…. Thanks for that


  10. Tom says:

    I have a super strong German Wirehaired Pointer in his prime that needs to run every single day, no matter what… the winter this get to be a challenge, only the worst blizzards stop us (read us: he finds blizzards to be a lot of fun). Although I am in Canada so the heat factor is not comparable to down south I deal with our couple of months of heat by simply getting up a lot earlier, we hit the road latest 6 am, 5 am is best.


  11. Tom says:

    Sorry forgot a couple of points, I bring fresh water along on my bike and I regularly apply Mushers Secret to his pads, helps keep them pliable and flexible.


  12. Pam says:

    You had so very valuable information here but for me it got lost in the cute background pictures. Maybe I am getting old but I couldn’t read all of it. Thank you very much for making this available!


  13. Trish Perrin says:

    I have a Newfoundland & in the hot summer, he is out for his potty breaks & a short walk in grass & shade around the house & then in. I don’t like the heat myself, so no way would I let my Higgins be out there for any longer than necessary.


  14. Nena says:

    Absolutely wonderful and critical information. Thank you so much. I have an 18-month old GSD who never stops, literally, until we go to bed. We live in West Texas and summer heat is a real issue. Although I try to be very aware of this situation, your article has made me keenly aware of my responsibilities for Captain. He is incredibly strong but your words of advice and suggestions to try will go a long way in ensuring his “heat” safety and a long healthy life. Love him to pieces!!! Thank you one more time.


  15. Judith Forbes says:

    Thanks so much for all the reminders, and, for me, some new information. I will test the road surface with my bare foot before just assuming it’s OK for my pups. You are so right, they DO prefer to stay home when we attend festivals and the like. We leave them with cool water, a radio or TV on their favorite station (right now they like Fixer Upper on HGTV) and a light if we’ll be late. We come home to two happy pups!


  16. Teresa says:

    I have a Parson Jack that is my service dog and has to go with me to work next week at an outdoor show in Oshkosh. I have a Frogz Togz and a mister. We will have access to shade and cool water fur her to drink and can periodically cool off in air conditioning. Please advise me – I’m a bit nervous about this.


    Minette Reply:

    watch his feet and look for signs of over heating.


  17. Vilnis says:

    Thank you! I always assume that my 2 little Toy Poodles want to play outside. Now I know that if the little one wants to take a break in the shade, it’s because she is hot, not being lazy! I’ll definitely pay much closer to the signs that they are giving me!


  18. Carole says:

    You are right on! Early morning or late day are best in the hot weather for long walks, and even dog parks can be too much on a hot day.
    My dog likes a wide round bucket filled with water under the grassy shade. I dump a few ice cubes in and she steps in with her front paws, she paws at the cubes, where she splashes herself, cools her paws , and grabs a cube out of the water and enjoys chewing on the ice cube


  19. susan says:

    one thing I do is dose him wth water down to the skin before we begin our walk. I bring along several cooled disposable water bottles with the pull open tops (re lovable) and give him a sip every 2-3 minutes. ( he only has one speed at the park …go fast! ) I also bring a container of ice cubes for his treat before heading home.


  20. Carol says:

    Last year I had my lab mix at an agility meet. the outdoor arena was crushed gravel sand. The weather reached the 90’s before the end of our classes. Kept us in the shade. Kept him cool with iced water, mist, and fans. But the arena was so hot that in the little while we were in there he burned the webbing between his toes. We dropped the rest of our classes went home. Never returned to that arena.


  21. Carol says:

    I you can feel the heat of the ground through your shoes it’s already too hot for your dog’s feet.


  22. Gladys Hadsel says:

    I ha e always felt sorry for the dog a that were out on very hot days. I always lea e my dog home when it is hot. It is also bad to leave your dog in a hot car and so many times when I go shopping I will see a dog left in a car if a car is too hot to leave a child in it is too hot for a dog. Thanks for writing this article.


  23. Kary Nichols says:

    Thank you so much for this informative article! I will be sharing this information with other dog owners and anyone else I see out with their pups during this hot time of the year.


  24. Judy cunningham says:

    Very informative article. It sure is HOT. In TN now. Wooden decks are a hazard for dogs in the summer also!


  25. Leila Carson says:

    Thank you for this very informative article. We are very careful with our two three year old Maltese dogs as far as the heat is concerned but I was not aware of the fact that their hearing is so much more sensitive than ours. I realize that since they are not happy travelers in the car, we can make it easier for them by keeping the volume of the music down. Also, I was not aware that most dogs are lactose intolerant. Our little Molly has allergies so we will stop giving her licks of ice cream.


  26. Thank you so much for this great article on dogs and hot weather, I have been very careful but I have learned a lot from this information and I will pass it on to other pet owners.


  27. Ed D says:

    We live on the equator so high temperatures (over 70) are always there. Our two labradors are more used to the heat than dogs in the States or elsewhere and enjoy the warmth. BUT we know to look for signs of overheating like excessive panting. Fortunately, our dogs are able to do most of their exercising in the Pacific or in our pool, both of which they love and make extra efforts (like opening gates or pushing us aside) to get access. I like your suggestion to test the asphalt, because at times, they do need to walk on the streets.


  28. Ann Glynn says:

    Just a note about using a hose/water to cool your dog when you think he is too hot; You need to run the water until the dog is completely cool or run a fan on the wet dog. If you leave water on a hot dog, the water will warm up fast and act as an insulating blanket and actually make the situation worse. A fan is great in this situation as it keeps the dog cool as the water evaporates. I live in subtropical Australia and we have cooling issues for both horses and dogs, my cocker spaniel does competitive lure coursing and I also find a cooling jacket excellent.


  29. Joyce says:

    Great article! Thank you for the information. I also wanted to share my experience with my love, a miniature poodle who was out for her potty break during a summer drought. Thank goodness I rarely let her out of my sight. That day I went to answer the phone and ended a short conversation. I went out to let her back in and saw her staggering. I ran out and carried her into our kitchen and just kept pouring water over her. I didn’t know the information you have provided but thankfully had common sense. Now I know the water should be luke warm. Happily she recovered within mins.. I had no idea how quickly they can become overheated. My vet has also instructed me to only leave a senior dog out to do their business and bring them right back in the house when it is hot weather.


  30. kyle says:

    Thank you so much for this informative ,article. I didn’t know these things, I’m greatful .my daughter and son dogs thank you too.
    GOD bless you and yours!!!


  31. Johnny Gee. says:

    . An associated point is taking our dogs down to the beach on super-hot days. My dog (Preston) is Maltese Cross, and fortunately small enough for me to pick up and carry over the HOT sands, down to the oceans edge.
    There are ways of getting larger dogs down there…not sure which would be best… just put your imagination to work .. I guess..?


    Minette Reply:

    If it is so hot you have to carry your dog… your dog is probably happier at home until he/she can walk on his/her own


  32. Pat Carr says:

    I served a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Nauvoo, IL. On those excruciatingly hot days when the heat index was high enough to bring the horses pulling the wagons in by 10 a.m., people were still walking their poor dogs on the hot pavement. You can imagine the pavement being will over 100 degrees. The people were happy to come into an air-conditioned historic site, but their dogs were still in distress. I stopped a woman one day and told her to pick up her poor little dog that was prancing like crazy because its little feet were burning. She said she never thought about its feet getting burned.


  33. Johnny Gee. says:

    Yeah Minette, you are dead right…
    I was going to include that point in my post, but didn’t think of it till after I’d clicked it in. Good on ya mate.


  34. Marla says:

    Thanks so much!! You are so full of usable information.


  35. Irene says:

    Thank you so much for the article on hot weather tips. I do not walk my dog in the heat of the day or play with him outside if it is very hot. However, I was trying to convince my husband to take him with us to a large craft show, and also to a family park for the day. When we leave the house he always looks so sad if he cannot go. BUT after reading this, I know if he were able to judge where he was going, he would be totally uncomfortable, and could even get sick from the heat. So I will gladly concede to my husband, as he has said many times that taking him would not be a good idea! So you settled an argument and taught me to go by the sad eyes and know that I am doing us all a big favor by letting him home in the air conditioning!


    Minette Reply:

    Thank you for this! This made my day 🙂 I am glad to have changed your opinion and he was able to hang out in the coolness of home


  36. Susan Berne says:

    Is there any way to protect her feet from the heat? We are in Tennessee, and it is horribly hot right now, but my shih-tsu is accustomed to going out 3 or 4 times a day to potty? I live in a condo, but must cross pavement and asphalt to get to the shade and grass? Even though she is small, it is hard for me to carry her, as I am old and get out of breath in the heat myself.


    Minette Reply:

    They make booties for dogs


  37. Laura Blackburn says:

    I have a pit/shepherd mix I’ve had a year will a husky (both are nuetered) be a good pair?


    Minette Reply:

    That is like asking if two people will be friends… it is hard to know. Dogs don’t always get along, sometimes it is important to find the right playmate


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