We are in the middle of our worst bush fires in recorded history, fueled by the fact we're in the second year of drought and are having record highs. The other day topped at 43 degrees Celsius and we're looking at similar temperatures today.

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I have grave concerns for my dogs, who live outside. They have a kennel and trees, but the heat is prohibitive. One of the dogs is a greyhound, and they really do not cope well with extreme temperatures.

In some cases people do not have air conditioners and dogs are not always allowed inside houses. So I'm looking for outdoor solutions, where possible.

What strategies can I make to keep the dogs cool in these heat waves?

3 Answers 3


Regular checks

It's vital not to leave the dogs unattended during hot days, especially heat waves. They need to be checked at minimum half hourly intervals once the temperatures start to rise, usually the late morning. As the day progresses, they need to be a priority. Keep checking on them at 10-20 minute intervals as the heat amps up and remove them from the heat wherever possible, especially when there's excessive panting.

Avoid exercise

We avoid letting them run around. Usually we let them out of their run for a run in the paddocks, but we don't do this during very hot days, until the late evening.

Sponge with water

We regularly check them and sponge them with water.

Fresh water at all times

Ensure they have fresh water.


We use a sprinkler, we have access to bore water. This is not an option for many people, as town water is on water restrictions across the state. The sprinkler is positioned to come into their yard a short way, avoiding the actual kennel, as they do need to be dry and don't appreciate being sprinkled. Just having the sprinkler going near the kennel helps create a cooler breeze. Plus the wet grass is cooler.

Hose kennel roof

We also spray the kennel roof and shade cloth with water to help cool the structures. Also spraying more of the yard than the sprinkler reaches, just to cool things down.

Wet bedding

We wet down the dogs' blankets. Pouring water on them in the heat of the day helps keep the dogs cooler. It doesn't cause problems with mould, as they dry out by the end of the day.

Hose dogs down

Soak the dogs with the hose. When the dogs are panting excessively, it's important to take swift action to cool them, and avoid heat stroke. Our greyhound will stand willingly under the hose, unrestrained and then walk off when she's had enough. The other dog we need to hold, although he is getting used to it.

Put in air conditioned car

The other thing we do in the hottest part of the day 1 - 3pm DSL is take them driving in the car in the air conditioning. We schedule all our driving trips for that time of the day and keep the engine running and the driver in the car at all times, to keep them from undue heat stress.


Attend the dogs at any time they may cry. Crying can be a symptom of heat stress. Whenever the dogs calls out, it's time to check and usually hose them down or take some swift action.

Check for parasites

Summer is paralysis tick time. It's vital to ensure the dogs have no parasites, worms, fleas or ticks to add to the burden of coping with extreme heat.

I've found some self cooling gel mats.

  • Provides relief from warmer temperatures
  • Engineered to absorb pet’s body heat
  • No refrigeration required
  • Non -Toxic Gel
  • Scratch Resistant Cover

Self-Cooling pet mat provides relief from warmer temperatures. Place directly onto floor surfaces or under existing blankets or bedding. Keep out of direct sunlight.

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Shade their dog house

The dogs' house will obviously provide shade from the sun, but the sun will heat the surface of the house, which will raise the inside temperature. Putting a large beach umbrella or some other shade device over their dog house will help lower the temperature inside.

If you are unable to shade the dog house, you could also cover the outside in Reflectix, or a similar material. That is the brand name of the material that car sun-screens is made out of.

reflectix insulaiton


Cool Water

It is essential that you keep fresh, cool water available to your dog at all times. In hot weather, this is even more crucial. Make sure you keep the water dish in a shady location and change the water frequently.

To constantly keep fresh water available outdoors, consider installing a watering system that hooks up to a faucet. These are designed to provide water as needed and are usually triggered by motion or a specific action.

If you go to the park or somewhere else with your dog, take along as much water for it as you do for yourself so you both stay hydrated. In addition to water, you can try feeding your dog some home made chilled treats.

Shelter from the Sun

Your dog might enjoy a little sunbathing, but it ultimately needs a cool, shady spot to relax. Prolonged sun exposure not only leads to heat exhaustion, but it can also cause sunburn. Yes, dogs can get sunburned too.

While sunscreen is available for dogs, it does not protect them from heat stroke. The best thing is to offer shelter. Shade from trees is nice, but it's not perfect either. An actual structure is better. Consider getting an insulated dog house, but make sure it is large and well-ventilated. Alternatively, you might put up an open-air tent or canopy. The addition of a fan will help cool things down further. If possible, put the shelter in a shady area to keep it extra-cool.

Of course, the ideal shelter is your home. If possible, install a doggie door to allow indoor access.

Doggie Pool

If your dog loves water, then a large tub or kiddie pool (molded plastic, not inflatable so nails can't pop it) might be a great addition to your yard. You can find inexpensive tubs or pools at most home stores.

Many dogs enjoy playing and lounging in the cool water. Just make sure you supervise your dog at all times. Keep the pool in a shady spot and change the water frequently. Do not leave the pool full when not in use, as it may attract mosquitos.

Instead of a pool, you might also try running a sprinkler to see if your dog likes it. However, most dogs prefer a pool to a sprinkler.

Cooling a Dog Bed

Your dog's need for a cool, shady place to relax extends into the house. While a dog bed is nice and soft, it might also be too warm. That is why many people notice that their dogs prefer to lie on tile or concrete floors when it's hot out.

A cooling dog bed can offer the comfort and softness of a typical dog bed with the coolness your dog craves. These beds often use a gel-like material or water to keep the temperature nice and cool. They are especially great for senior dogs as an alternative to hard floors.

Preventing Problems

There are several other products designed to cool off your dog. Some work better than others, and often it just depends on the dog. If you decide to try one out, just remember that nothing can replace fresh water and shade. No dog should go for long without plenty of both.

One common mistake people make is to take their dog for a walk in the heat. Pavement gets very hot under the summer sun and can easily burn the pads of your dog's feet. If it's too hot for you to walk on barefoot, it's far too hot for your dog. Take your summertime walks in a grassy park or, at the least, direct your dog to walk on the grass next to the sidewalk.

Cooler air is the best way to prevent and relieve overheating in your dog. No matter how you try to keep your dog cool, the best thing you can do is to keep a close eye on it. When in doubt, get the dog to a cooler area. Never leave your dog in the car unattended. Be sure to contact your vet immediately if you notice signs of heatstroke.

Chilled dog treat recipes:



4 cups plain yogurt, low or fat free
1 ripe banana
1 cup of blueberries
3 tbsp peanut butter, natural and salt free is preferred
1 tsp vanilla extract

Stir all of the ingredients together into a medium bowl.
Pour into a blender, and puree until smooth.
Pour the smoothie into ice cube trays and freeze.
Storing - This recipe for dog treats, if frozen into smoothie pops, will last for 6 months or more in the freezer. You can keep the smoothie in it's liquid form, but keep it refrigerated for about a week.

Yield - Using a 1/2 inch ice cube tray, you will make 32 PB & J Smoothie dog treats.

Pumpkin ice cream:


1 (1 oz) Natural Instant Vanilla Pudding Mix (see note below)
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 cup milk, low or fat free
1 (15 oz) can pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)

Whisk the vanilla pudding mix, pumpkin pie spice, and milk together until dissolved. Approximately 2 minutes.
Fold, or gently stir in the pumpkin puree.
Scoop pumpkin pudding into small paper cups, small plastic cups, or a plastic Popsicle mold.
Place in freezer, and let freeze completely, about 3 hours.
Take out desired serving size and let sit on counter for 5 minutes. Then release from the mold and serve.
Storing - If frozen, this dog ice cream recipe will last for 3 months. If kept in the refrigerator, as a pudding, it will keep fresh for one week.

Hope this helps.

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