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How To Keep Your Dog Cool Over Summer

Updated: Nov 24, 2023

Australians all know we are supposed to Slip-Slop-Slap over summer. But do you know how to keep your dog safe from the sun? Dogs can suffer from heat stroke too – in fact, heat distress is a major cause of emergency vet visits during the summer months. Luckily, it is entirely preventable!

dog on a beach holiday wearing a hat, sunglasses and sipping a cocktail


  • Always provide plenty of shade in any outdoor areas, or indoor areas with lots of direct sun exposure.

  • Allow dogs indoor access in very hot weather.


  • Always provide your dog with access to water bowls, whether indoors or outdoors. If you are not home, make sure you offer at least two bowls in case one gets knocked over or finished.


  • Swimming is a great way for your dog to cool off on a hot day. You can set-up a wading pool for your pet in the back yard so they have their own dip-pool on demand!

  • Don’t let dogs drink sea water at the beach. This can cause salt toxicity.

black and tan dog cooling in a blue paddling pool

Walk in the morning or evening

  • Avoid walks in the middle of the day during summer, especially if you have a brachycephalic (short-nosed) breed.

  • Hot pavements, hot sand and the metal tray of a ute can all burn a dog’s paws, so always test the temperature against your own skin before asking your dog to walk or sit on these. Dog boots to protect their feet are a great investment if you live in a hot area.

Care with the car

  • NEVER leave your dog unattended in a hot car, even with the windows open. Dogs can die in hot cars.

Air Con

  • Many dogs, particularly brachycephalic (short-nosed) breeds, take longer to cool down than humans do. If your dog got a bit hot on a walk, leave the aircon running a bit longer than usual until you are sure they are fully recovered.

Summer hair cut

  • If you have a long-coated breed, talk to your groomer about whether you can have a ‘summer clip’ to keep their coat shorter or thinned out over the hottest months.

Doggy popsicles

  • Add some ice cubes to your dog’s water bowl, or make them a frozen dog treat that can slowly melt across the day, releasing little goodies.

Cooling mats

  • There are various types of cooling mats or beds available your dog might enjoy lying on when it's hot.


  • Dogs with thin hair or white coat colours are the most prone to sunburn and skin cancers. Dog-friendly sunscreen can be applied to their nose, muzzle and belly.

  • Try to stop your dog sunbaking if they could be prone to sunburn, as we can’t rely entirely on sunscreen in our furry friends!

Heat Stroke

Dogs don’t sweat like humans do. They only have sweat pads in their paws, and generally rely on panting as their main way of exchanging heat and cooling down. On a hot humid day, this process may not be efficient enough to reduce their temperature rapidly, making them very susceptible to heat stroke. Any dog can suffer from heat stroke, but if your dog spends most of their day outside or is a short-nosed breed, they could be particularly susceptible.

Hot Cars Are Dangerous

The RSPCA attends hundreds of callouts every year to rescue dogs from hot cars. They have shown that it only takes six minutes for a dog to overheat with fatal consequences. The air temperature inside a parked car can quickly rise by 20 degrees or more. Even leaving a window ajar for your dog is not enough to stop the car reaching dangerous temperatures – it is far safer to never leave your dog alone in a car.

If you come across a dog in a hot car and you are concerned for its safety, call 000 or your local RSPCA for advice. Never break a car window without speaking to law enforcement first as this is illegal.

black dog looking out of car window

What to do in a heat-stroke emergency

Signs of heat stroke include:

  • Excessive panting

  • Excessive drooling

  • Collapse or weakness

  • Feeling hot to the touch

  • Bright red or dark red gums

  • Vomiting

If you think your dog might have heat stroke, immediately take some steps to cool them down:

  • Offer water to drink immediately.

  • Wet the dog's coat with cool water

  • Immerse the dog's feet in cool water.

  • Wipe down the dog's face with cool water.



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