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How to keep your dog cool this summer

When summer heats up in BC, we make sure to keep ourselves cool. But how about our dogs? They’re covered in hot fur and cannot speak up when they’re overheating.

Here’s a list of what to watch for if your dog’s struggling with high temperatures and how you can help your pooch keep cool and happy all summer long.

Keep walkies away from the hottest time of day

Avoid walking your pooch when the sun's rays are most intense, typically from 11am to 3pm, and during the hottest hours of the day between 1pm to 5pm. Instead, go for walks early in the morning or in the evening after 6pm. Alternately, if you must walk mid-day, go for shorter, less-strenuous walks.

Check the road surface

Before you start your dog walk, test the asphalt with the back of your hand. If you can’t hold your hand for seven seconds, it’s too hot for your dog’s poor paws. Let them run on grass or in your backyard instead.

Stay sun safe

Make sure your pet has lots of shade on walks. You might also want to invest in sunscreen for dogs (yes, it exists). Don’t just slather on your own sunscreen, though, as zinc and para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA) can be toxic for dogs if they lick and swallow it. Dog sunscreen is created for canines’ unique skin composition and fur coverage, plus it’s made to be lick safe, too.

Family is walking their dogs in the forest

Know what your breed needs

Does your dog have a pink nose or white ears? You need to give them extra sun protection in the sunny months as their lighter skin pigment puts them at higher risk of skin cancer. And dogs with flat noses – we’re looking at you, pugs and bulldogs – often find it difficult to breathe. This means they struggle to cool themselves down.

Dogs with long, matted hair are going to feel the heat more. If they don’t shed for summer, send your dog to the groomer for a haircut and brush their coats to prevent matting that traps heat and moisture. Don’t overdo it though – you never want to shave your dog’s fur too short, as this makes them more vulnerable to the sun.

Driving with doggo

We can’t stress this enough: once warmer temperatures arrive, never leave your dog in a parked car or a sunny room with little airflow. The temperature inside your vehicle can jump to unmanageable heat in just minutes, even if you lower the window. Check out the dangers of heat in parked cars – and never leave your dog in a car in warm temperatures.

Frozen treats

As the thermometer hits high temperatures, add ice cubes to your pet’s water bowl or offer frozen treats and kongs to cool your pooch down, as recommended by our friends at the BC SPCA.

Here are eight homemade frozen dog treats for cool snacking all summer long, and 10 pet products for your dog to enjoy summer to the fullest

Camping with a dog in the summer

Look out for warning signs

If you’re pooch is struggling with heat, here are the warning signs to watch for:

  • Excessive panting to rapid breathing
  • Excessive drooling
  • Changes in the colour of their gums, tongue or inner ear (watch if they’re bright or dark red)
  • Increased or irregular pulse and heartbeat
  • Lethargic and/or disoriented behaviour
  • Seeking shade or water
  • Their body temperature is over 40.5C according to a thermometer reading.

If you see any of the above, here’s how to help them:

  • Douse your dog with luke-warm tap water. Make sure it’s not cold. Water that’s too cold constricts their blood vessels, which makes it take longer for your dog to cool off.
  • Get a fan and blow it on your dog while they’re wet. Then move them to an area with shade and air conditioning.
  • DO NOT force the dog drink water. Your dog may be too focused on breathing to drink. Let them drink when they’re ready.
  • Cool your dog to 39.4C or below, then take your pet to the vet to get checked.

Vet care is always near with BCAA Pet Insurance

With BCAA Pet Insurance, provided by Pets Plus Us, you’ll enjoy benefits like our 24/7 free vet tech care helpline, PetHelpFone™, and support to manage unexpected veterinarian bills for accidents and illnesses. We keep your pet's best interest in mind with additional coverage for alternate treatments, such as hydrotherapy, naturopathy and chiropractic care.

Get your quote now at and save 13.5% as a BCAA Member. Have a cool summer out there!

*BCAA Members receive a preferred rate of 13.5% off. Non-members receive a preferred rate of 9% off

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