Limited time only: Get started with a FREE 1:1 onboarding session (a $200 value) and a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Redeem Offer

How to Keep Dogs Cool in Summer Heat

Keeping dogs cool in the summer heat is a challenge for kennel owners. Dogs don’t sweat like humans; instead, they rely on panting to cool down. This makes them highly vulnerable to overheating and getting heat stroke, especially in hot weather.

Heat stroke in dogs is when a dog’s internal body temperature rises to dangerous levels (100°F or more) and they’re no longer able to cool themselves down. This can quickly lead to organ failure and in the worst cases, death. 

Knowing how to keep dogs cool in summer is essential for every pet care business. 

How long can dogs stay outside in the summer heat?

How long dogs can stay outside in the heat generally depends on a few factors, including:

  • The outside temperature
  • Their size and breed
  • How much shade and water is freely available

Generally speaking, you should plan to give the dogs in your care constant breaks from direct sunlight and the summer heat. Special consideration should also be given to large dogs who may overheat more easily and brachycephalic (or “flat-faced” dogs), as they struggle to regulate their temperature through panting. 

You should also consider how active the dogs are and what activities they’re doing, as excessive exercise can quickly lead to dogs overheating. In fact, more dogs die from overheating due to overexertion in the UK than they do from being left in a hot car.

Dog in pool for 'How to keep dogs cool in summer' article.
Source: iStock

How hot is too hot for dogs outside?

While different dogs can cope with different weather, experts agree that outside temperatures above 85°F are too hot for dogs. On hot days like these, extra care should be taken to keep dogs cool. 

However, this isn’t a hard and fast rule. If you have flat-faced dogs or dogs with health issues, 85°F may be far too hot for them. These types of dogs should be closely watched for signs of overheating on hot days. When running a kennel, each dog will have a different threshold, so it’s always best to set it at the lowest.

For kennels that have concrete, a rough guide is to place the back of your hand on the concrete. If you can’t keep your hand there for longer than 7 seconds, it’s too hot for dogs to walk on.

Common heat-related illnesses in dogs.

These are the most common heat-related illnesses in dogs to watch out for. 


Can dogs get sunburn? Yes—just like humans, they can! While their coasts might protect them for the most part, some dogs are more susceptible, including dogs with:

  • White fur and/or pink skin
  • Light-colored noses, eyelids, and ears
  • Hair loss or excessive shedding
  • Sparse or no fur
  • Healing wounds and/or surgery sites
  • Existing sunburn

Sunburn happens when a dog has been in the sun too long and causes red, swollen skin. Try to ensure your dogs don’t sunbathe for too long by encouraging them to move to the shade or bringing them inside if they’re determined to lie in the sunlight.

How to tell if a dog has sunburn.

Sometimes, depending on the thickness of the coat, you may be able to see angry, red patches beneath the hair. Otherwise, as sunburn is painful, a dog may shy away from being touched and may even snap or seem out of character when petted. 

How to treat a dog’s sunburn.

Treating dog sunburn is easy if it’s mild. The first thing you should do is ensure the dog doesn’t go back out into the sun for a few days while the burn has time to heal. It’s also important to make your clients aware of it if it’s been noticed in your dog kennel.

Cold compresses can be soothing to the skin and bring the inflammation down. Make sure to take cues from the dog, for instance if the dog is averse to being touched while in pain, it could cause them to snap. Heed warning signals!

If the sunburn is moderate to severe (very red, the pup is clearly in pain), seeing a veterinarian is the best course of action. They may provide a painkiller and a topical treatment to avoid infection. 

You can also buy dog-safe sunscreen to use in your facility, which will prevent future sunburn once the current bout has gone away. Sunscreen for dogs is only preventative, and can’t be used as a cure. 


Dehydration is another common problem that can happen when a dog has spent too long in the heat. Dehydration in dogs means they don’t have enough fluid in their bodies and need to drink more water.

How to tell if a dog is dehydrated.

Signs of dehydration in dogs can vary, but usually, a lack of elasticity in the skin is the obvious one. If you pinch the skin above their neck gently and it takes a while to fall back into place, it’s a clear sign they’re dehydrated.

Some other signs of dehydration include:

  • Panting
  • Dry nose
  • Lack of appetite

If the dehydration is more severe, the dog may begin to pant excessively, go into shock, or even collapse. 

How to treat canine dehydration.

If you think one of the dogs in your care is mildly dehydrated, encourage them to drink water. You can do this by ensuring the water supply is fresh and cool. If they’re nervous around the other dogs, remove them so they can drink some water in private. 

Make sure to limit their water intake as they refresh themselves, as inhaling too much at once could cause them to vomit.

If the dehydration is more severe, they must be taken to see an emergency veterinarian immediately.

Heat exhaustion.

Heat exhaustion, which comes very briefly before heat stroke in dogs, is when their internal temperature reaches 105°F or higher.

Symptoms of heat exhaustion in dogs.

In the early stages of heat exhaustion, you may notice symptoms like lethargy, excessive panting, and the dog may be showing signs of anxiety.

How to treat heat exhaustion in dogs.

If a dog is starting to show signs of heat exhaustion, take them inside and into a cooler room. Encourage them to lie on a cool floor and use a slightly damp towel to help them cool down faster. Monitor them to ensure the symptoms are fading.

Heat stroke.

If a dog’s internal temperature remains at 105°F or higher for too long, they may suffer from a severe condition known as heat stroke. This is when the temperature causes their organs to fail and shut down. 

Symptoms of heat stroke in dogs.

The signs of heat stroke can be severe, such as vomiting, a loss of appetite, gastrointestinal symptoms, and even death if they aren’t brought to the vet in time.

How to treat a dog with heat stroke.

If you suspect a dog might have heat stroke, you should see a veterinarian as soon as possible. Dogs who have reached the stage of heat stroke can’t safely be cooled down without medical intervention, as they may go into shock, so do not try to treat this on your own. 

Dog with ball outside for 'How to keep dogs cool in summer' article.
Source: iStock

How to keep dogs cool in summer heat: 6 must-have pet supplies. 

To avoid heat stroke and all of the other nasty illnesses that can come with high summer temperatures, you can purchase some supplies to cool down the dogs at your kennel. A cool dog is a happy dog!

1. Artificial shade: dog tents.

If the dogs are going to be outside, dog tents can create shade that will keep them out of the sun’s glare. Though the air temperature is the same in the shade, it will help prevent sunburn and stop the dogs from heating up because the sun is burning into their fur. 

2. Fun in the sun: dog pool.

When it comes to cooling down a dog in the summer, nothing works quite as well as something many of them love—a pool!

Adding a paddling pool to your pet care facility can be incredibly beneficial because wetting a dog’s paws is a great way to cool them down. Consider several small paddling pools to cool their paws in, or even a large pool they can swim in if you have the budget.

If you do construct a larger pool, make sure to have life vests handy and never allow dogs to swim unattended. Although most dogs are natural swimmers, some breeds do not do well in the water.

3. Hydration: water dispenser.

Having an unending supply of clean, fresh water for the dogs will ensure that they’re motivated to stay hydrated. You can do this by having a dog water dispenser handy, or even a dog water fountain for running water.

Putting some ice cubes in the water can also encourage dogs to stay cool.

4. Comfortable sleep: elevated dog bed.

When dogs go to sleep, keep them off the hot ground by offering them a raised dog bed. Most dogs sleep 12-14 hours a day, so it’s likely the dogs in your care will be sleeping when the sun is high in the sky and the temperatures are up. 

Providing the dogs with elevated dog beds keeps them from lying on hot concrete which can raise their body temperatures. 

5. Temperature regulation: dog cooling mat.

Cooling pads for dogs are a great tool for lowering body temperature. Some work by putting ice packs inside of them, some work by being stored in the freezer when not in use, and some milder ones can actually use the dog’s body to cool down.

If there are any concrete areas the dogs have access to, setting down these comfortable mats can discourage them from lying on hard, hot ground.

6. Air movement: pet-safe fans.

Air conditioning is one of the most efficient ways of keeping dogs cool. Keep them inside of the kennels to ensure the dogs are enjoying a cool breeze rather than overheating.

There’s just one thing to be careful of, and that’s the safety issue for pets. Make sure fans are covered or well out of pets’ reach to prevent curious dogs from getting injured.

Woman walking 4 dogs for 'How to keep dogs cool in summer' article.
Source: iStock

Keep your cool with kennel management features from PetExec.

Running a kennel in the summer is a daunting process with many moving parts to think about, from the cost of running the business to keeping dogs safe and healthy.  

Using a pet care business software, like PetExec, can help take a lot of the worry away. It can seamlessly integrate with your kennel business to:

  • Organize dogs with similar temperaments in one area using the calendar and report card features. 
  • Ensure a member of staff is outside with the dogs at all times using the employee management features. 
  • Integrate with pet cameras so you can keep an eye on the dogs when they’re out in the sun and spot the first signs of overheating.
  • Provide inventory management reports so you know you have enough cooling mats and water fountains in stock.

Automating all of these tasks allows you to focus on what you’re best at - running the business and keeping the dogs cool! 

Book a free personalized demo with PetExec today and get ready for the hot summer months!

Commonly asked questions.

Can dogs sleep outside during the summer?

It’s not recommended to allow dogs to sleep outside at all unless you have a safe, secure place for them to go (because of unpredictable weather, predators, and more). Although the nights are generally cooler in the summer than the days, leaving dogs to sleep outside where you can’t supervise them or control the temperature can be risky.

How do you take a dog’s temperature?

The only reliable way to take a dog’s temperature is in their rectum. You can use a human thermometer, coat it with Vaseline as a lubricant, and insert it 2-3 inches into the dog’s rectum for an accurate temperature reading. 

Do dogs sweat?

It’s a common misconception that dogs don’t sweat, as they definitely do—just not in the same way as people. They can sweat through their paw pads, although for dogs, this is primarily a way to communicate and release pheromones. It doesn’t do much in the way of cooling them down, which is why some people don’t think that dogs sweat at all.

Contact us

Featured Articles

Download & Share

Let's get to know each other

We're always looking to meet our next packmate — reach out and say hello.