How hot is too hot for your dog? The answer may surprise you. It does depend on the dog, but when the temperature reaches 80 degrees, some breeds may be susceptible to heat stroke. At 85 degrees, the weather can be dangerous for most breeds. At 90 degrees, the heat can be life-threatening.
That’s because dogs have very few sweat glands, which are located in the pads of their feet. When the temperature rises, outside surfaces retain heat, taxing the sweat glands and panting may not be able to cool your dog down sufficiently.
If a dog is older and has trouble moving around, he may not be able to get into shade in time. Brachycephalic dogs with flat faces and short snouts like the Pug, Bulldog, Japanese Chin, Pekingese and others are also more at risk. Humidity makes it even harder for dogs to keep cool.
Related: 6 Ways to Ensure Your Dog Has an Absolute Blast During the Summer
The Signs of Heatstroke
There are precautions you can take to keep your dog safe. First, be aware of the signs of heatstroke:
Bright red tongue, gums, and moist tissues
Pale or grey gums and tissues (your dog is going into shock)
Increased heart rate
Thick or sticky saliva
Weakness, dizziness, or staggering
If your dog has these symptoms, you need to get him out of the heat and to a veterinarian immediately. On the way, try to lower his temperature with cool, wet towels placed on the back of the neck, under the limbs and in the groin area. But don’t use very cold water; cooling the body down too quickly is dangerous.
Practice Summer Safety
Watch the temperature and the humidity. When the heat index is high, limit your dog’s exercise. Keep walks short and try to go out in the early morning and late evening. Make sure your dog has enough water, and carry water with you on walks. Try to stick to grass rather than pavement. During heat waves, add a few ice cubes to the water bowl.
NEVER leave your dog in a parked car, not even for “a few minutes,” even when you have the air conditioner on — if the air conditioner malfunctions for any reason, your dog may not survive.
On hot days, you can also use a cooling vest or a cooling bandana to keep your dog’s temperature down — both indoors and outdoors.
Related: The Reasons Why You Should Invest in an Elevated Dog Bed – and the Ones We Recommend
Check out our favorite cooling vests and bandanas/collars to keep your dog cool this summer.
The Best Cooling Vests
Ruffwear’s Swamp Cooler
The Swamp Cooler provides excellent coverage along with high sun protection. Constructed of three layers, the outer wicking layer reflects the sun and aids evaporation, the middle layer stores water for evaporation and the inner layer transfers the cooling to your dog’s body. It’s easy on/off with buckles on the side. To activate, soak in water, wring out and put on. There’s a portal for the leash to fit through. It’s even machine washable in cold water. Sizes from xx-small to x-large.
Hurtta’s Cooling Dog Vest
The Hurtta is more low-tech than the Ruffwear but just as effective for low activity like walking. It may also be a better fit for small dogs. The vest covers the chest and heart and concentrates the cooling there to reach the bloodstream. Dip in cool water, wring and put on. The material absorbs water, and you can replenish it by pouring more water on it when you’re on the go. The vest has a loop to attach the leash. Available in blue and lilac. Sizes from xx-small to xx-large. Sizing chart here.
Price: $27.84 to $34.61
SGODA Dog Cooling Vest
The SGODA has three layers of cooling fabric. It’s lightweight and has UV protection. There’s a zinc-alloy D-ring on the back to attach the leash to, a zipper closing for easy on/off with a Velcro closing at the neck and an inside rope for an adjustable fit. The strap is made of heat reflective material that is also highly visible. Soak in cold water, wring out, and put on. In gray with green or orange trim. Sizes from small to xx-large.
Price: $31.95 to $42.95
The Best Cooling Bandanas
All for Paws’ Chill Out Ice Bandana
Made with special cooling technologies, the All for Paws Chill Out Ice Bandana just requires you to soak the bandana in cool water for instant relief. Dip it in, wring it out and put it on. It is comfortable, not toxic and helps your dog stay cool during the summer, or while inside. Available in three sizes: small, medium and large.
Related: 7 Awesome Dog Carrier Backpacks for Summer Hiking
Calming Collars’ Too Cool Collar
The Too Cool works by soaking briefly in water. Made with polymer crystals inside that turn into a gel and expand to help your dog stay cool. This collar is not only effective but extremely stylish! It lies flat on the neck for a good fit and closes with a plastic buckle. It comes in a large range of fabrics. Sizes from x-small to x-large; custom sizes available.
The KoolCollar works by filling with ice. For outdoor use, fill with regular ice, and the melting ice runs down the front of your dog over the chest area, providing evaporative cooling and lowering the core temperature. For indoor use, use with KoolTubes, a semi-disposable, non-toxic, and non-staining alternative to ice when you don’t want water running all over your floors. You simply freeze the KoolTubes and change them out as they get warm. Available in black, red and blue. Sizes from small to large.
Price: $18 to $20.
The Dog’s Right! Cooling Collar Bandana
There are three different ways The Dog’s Right! Cooling Collar Bandana can keep your dog comfortable during the hot weather. The bandana comes with ice packs that can be inserted into the collar. Just plop them in after you freeze them for a long-lasting solution. You can also use ice cubes instead of the ice packs and/or soak the collar in cold water. Super easy to use and can be used indoors or outdoors. Available in medium (14 to 16 inches)
Related: How to Protect Your Dog From Fleas, Ticks and Mosquitoes This Summer