How to Keep Outdoor Working Dogs Cool in Summer
by Dakota Storage Buildings, on May 27, 2021
Here are some ways to prevent heat exhaustion, keeping your dog cool and happy this summer.
Working dog owners want their outdoor dog to be healthy so that he can perform optimally. To keep him healthy and prevent serious issues associated with high temps and heat exhaustion, it’s important to find ways to keep your pup cool during the summer.
There are several practical things you can do to keep your dog cool and comfortable during the summer.
Heat exhaustion occurs when your dog’s body temperature rises too high, leaving them unable to regulate their body heat. Because dogs do not sweat, they are more sensitive to heat than we are. If their body temperature rises over 104 degrees, it can lead to heatstroke, which can potentially result in unconsciousness, organ failure, and even death. Similar to a parked vehicle, interior temperatures can rise quickly in warm weather.
Signs of Heat Exhaustion
Stay attuned to your dog's behavior and watch for heat exhaustion signs. Hyperthermia is preventable, but it can happen to even the healthiest dogs and most conscientious pet owners.
Be sure to take action immediately if your dog shows any of these symptoms:
- Excessive panting
- Difficulty breathing
- Excessive drooling
- Decreased production of urine
- Rapid pulse
- Muscle tremors
- Glazed eyes
The easiest to spot are:
- Excessive panting or difficulty breathing. If your dog is panting constantly or faster than usual, he could be overheated.
- Excessive drooling. Keep an eye out for lots of drool, or drool that is thicker and stickier than usual.
- Dry nose. If your dog's nose is dry and hot instead of wet and cool, he could have a fever. A body temperature above 103°F is considered abnormal and a symptom of hyperthermia.
- Discolored gums. If your dog's gums are a different color than normal (e.g., bright red, gray, purple, or bluish), he could be dehydrated.
These are the most common and easily detectable symptoms of heat exhaustion. If your dog isn't acting like himself anytime during the hot summer months, don't ignore it. Immediately work to bring down your dog's body temperature, and do whatever it takes to hydrate him. When in doubt, call your vet.
Ways To Keep Your Outdoor Working Dog Cool
Because dogs primarily pant rather than sweat, they are much more sensitive to heat than humans are. Luckily, heat exhaustion is easily preventable. So, what can you do to keep your outdoor working dog cool in the summer, preventing any of the above-listed symptoms and keeping him at the top of his game? Here are a few.
- Avoid peak hours. Avoid working your dog during peak temperature hours (the hottest time of the day is around 3 p.m.). If extreme heat is unavoidable, make sure he has plenty of water, and allow him to cool down in a shady spot periodically. If he’s not working and he’s in his outdoor kennel during peak hours, be sure to cover it, giving it (and him!) shade from the hot summer sun.
- Employ extra comfort measures. If he’s not working but instead spending time in his outdoor kennel, there are plenty of ways to regulate the temperature inside. For example, keep his water supply continually fresh, add flavorless Pedialyte into his water for an extra boost of electrolytes, or add a cooling fan in one of the top corners to keep air circulating. You can even add a small doggie pool outside of his kennel or in the dog run.
- Install heat barriers. This tactic is a kennel-based solution. If your dog house doesn't have roof and wall radiant heat barriers, it’s time to add them. One way to keep an outdoor kennel comfy and cool is with reflective surfaces that block heat rays. For instance, we use LP® TechShield® Roofing Sheathing with Radiant Barrier to help regulate the temperature inside of the kennels we build.
- Add insulation. It’s typically unnecessary to provide air conditioning to keep dogs comfortable — wall, door, and window insulation usually works just fine. Adding insulation to a kennel’s interior helps slow heat movement, keeping a typically hot space much cooler. Ensuring that your outdoor dog kennel includes an insulated room, windows, and doors can help keep the interior room comfortable for outside dogs year-round.
- Fresh air. Whether they're outside working or inside their kennel for the night, allowing your dog to have access to fresh air and breeze will help keep his body temperature comfortable. Regarding kennels, a fenced-in run and interior ventilation help provide the fresh air necessary for dogs. In hot weather, good airflow is key to keeping your dog from overheating.
- Upgrade your outdoor dog kennel. As you test the different cooling methods listed above, you might discover that the most efficient and best long-term solution is a kennel upgrade. A subpar dog house may be the primary culprit in your dog’s discomfort and heat exhaustion. Evaluate your dog house, and if it lacks proper ventilation, an insulated room, radiant heat barriers, and access to fresh air, it might be time for an upgrade.
Beyond keeping your outdoor dog cool in the summer, there are many other things that can be done to ensure your working dog is happy, healthy, and in the best working condition. Download our guide How to Ensure Your Working Dog is Healthy & Happy for ways to socialize your working dog, tips for keeping your pup stimulated, ideas for teaching and instructing your dog, insights into working dog nutrition, and more.
About Dakota Storage Buildings
Our mission is to help you organize your life and keep your valued possessions safe — that includes your working dog. We know dogs are an investment, and we want to help you keep them secure and happy. When you purchase with us, you can trust that you’re getting a premium kennel, a knowledgeable and experienced team of experts, above-and-beyond customer service, honest prices, and flexible delivery. We’re now proudly serving North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, western Wisconsin, northeast Nebraska, and north-central Iowa. Explore our high-quality kennels online.