With brutal heat waves rocking the U.S. this summer, we’re on the lookout for the best cooling bandanas for dogs (not to mention cooling dog beds, collars, and vests, too) to add to our carts right now. After all, if it’s too hot outside for you to feel comfortable, you can bet that it’s too hot for your dog, too. But, before we get to the most effective items we found in our search, here’s what else you need to know about taking care of your pup during hot weather.
Why is it important to take extra steps to keep dogs cool?
“It may be hard to initially realize that your dog is overheating,” Jenna D. Mills, DVM, MPH, FFCP, medical director of VCA Animal Hospital of Garden City, tells SELF. “Dogs love to spend time with us and are unlikely to complain or give notice even if it is too hot, so it’s important for us to be the ones considering the weather.” She explains that you should start thinking about adjusting your plans when the temperature reaches 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Even if it isn’t scorchingly hot, the temperature can take a toll on your dog. Dr. Mills adds that you should take the ground temperature into account, too, especially if you’re walking on pavement, for the sake of your dog’s paws. “This doesn’t mean quick trips are going to be dangerous, but as the temperature rises time outside should lessen, and trips should always be supervised,” she says.
What are common signs of overheating in dogs—and when should you seek medical attention?
The most common symptoms of overheating include heavy panting or rapid breathing, excessive drooling, sticky gums, wobbly walking, vomiting, weakness, and collapse, Dr. Mills tells us. Overheating can lead to heatstroke, which is when a dog’s internal temperature becomes dangerously high, within minutes, Dr. Mills explains, so it’s extremely important to watch for these symptoms.
“If your dog is showing signs of heatstroke, then seeking immediate medical care is essential and can be lifesaving,” Dr. Mills says. Even if you aren’t sure if they’re experiencing true heatstroke, but they are showing some signs of overheating, it won’t hurt to go to your local emergency veterinary hospital anyway, she adds.
What can help cool dogs down in the heat?
“Proactively avoiding a situation where your dog is at risk of overheating is the safest approach,” Dr. Mills explains. Specifically, she recommends sticking to shaded areas when you’re outside, providing plenty of water, and going out during cooler times of the day. If you believe your dog is overheating, get them to a cooler area and pour cool tap water over their body. You don’t want to shock their system, so avoid using icy cold water, Dr. Mills says. And, she adds, don’t drape anything over their backs in an attempt to lower their body temperature, as that can just end up trapping more heat.
Even if long, leisurely strolls are out of the question due to the heat, your furry friend still has business to attend to in the great outdoors. So, when the time comes to, er, make and stretch their cute little legs, here are the best cooling bandanas for dogs you can try—plus a few other handy accessories to beat the heat outside and around the house.