Warm summer days can be wonderful, but with them come hot summer nights that make it difficult for dogs to cool down. I wanted to find out every possible way to cool down my dogs at night inside the house, then share them with you so you can use these tips too…
To keep a dog cool at night inside the house, cool down the room’s temperature with an air conditioner or an open window and fan. Give the dog something cool to lie on, and make sure the dog has plenty of water to stay hydrated.
These are some of the basic tips to keep dogs cool at night, but there are many things you can do to keep your dog’s temperature down and prevent heatstroke. It’s also good to be aware of what makes your dog more prone to overheating, so you can keep an eye on them for heatstroke.
Here are all the tips and tricks to keep your dog cool and comfortable at night…
How to keep a dog cool at night inside the house
1. Turn on the air conditioner to cool down a dog
To keep a dog cool inside the house in summer, keep the air conditioner on. Set the thermostat to maintain a temperature of around 75 to 78 degrees Fahrenheit (24 to 26 degrees Celsius). Bigger dogs need it cooler at about 75 degrees Fahrenheit (24 degrees Celsius). Smaller and short-haired dogs can be comfortable in a warmer house up to around 78 degrees Fahrenheit (26 degrees Celsius).
If you have an air conditioner in the house, summer is a great time to use it.
Dogs get used to the temperature of the area they spend a lot of time in. This is called acclimatizing. It’s best to keep the temperature inside the house closest to what your dog is acclimatized to.
Don’t have any major or sudden changes in the temperature inside the house. Sudden changes in temperature make it difficult for a dog to regulate its body temperature, which can lead to overheating.
2. Get cool air moving in the house with a fan
Fans do not cool down the air in a room, but fans do help dogs cool down in other ways. Fans circulate air, which can cool down a dog’s coat where heat gets trapped. Fans also help dogs cool down faster when they pant, which is a dog’s natural way to cool down.
The only way to cool down a room with a fan is to provide a source for cooler air that the fan can circulate:
- Turn on the air conditioner. Use a fan to spread cold air from the air conditioner to cool down the area
- If you don’t have an aircon, open a window and run a fan next to the window to let the fan circulate fresh air coming in
- If there’s no aircon or cool air coming in from outside, freeze water in plastic soft drink bottles. Place these frozen bottles full of ice in front of a running fan, to cool down the air and the room
3. Use a water mister to cool down a room
A water mister is a great way to keep a dog cool inside the house and can bring down the temperature in a room by up to 30 degrees Fahrenheit (16.5 degrees Celsius), depending on the humidity. The less humidity there is, the better a water mister will work.
Water misters cool the air through evaporation. A mister has nozzles, which sprays water out in a fine mist or fog. These water droplets quickly evaporate, which cools down the air.
A fine mist will evaporate quickly, cooling down the air more without wetting things around it. The finer the mist, the better the cooling results.
If you want to cool down your dog with a water mister, you could try:
- A misting fan, such as this one from Amazon
- Calling a professional to give you advice and install a misting system
- Or building your own misting machine by following a tutorial on YouTube and adapting it to your own space. Here’s a quick tutorial on how to build a misting machine in 15 minutes:
4. Give a dog fresh, cool water to regulate body temperature
Drinking water helps a dog cool down because cool water can cool down the dog’s stomach and nearby internal organs, bringing down the dog’s core body temperature. Water also helps a dog control their body temperature by providing moisture for a dog to use its natural cooling system – panting.
When panting, dogs breathe in air. Moisture is added to this air in the dog’s nose and lungs. The dog then breathes this out with an open mouth and tongue hanging out. The hot moisture on the dog’s tongue evaporates and releases heat from the dog.
Did you know? A dog’s body is made up of 80% water. A human body is made up of 60% water.
It’s best for a dog to drink cool water in small amounts throughout the day, rather than a lot of water at one time. A dog should never be forced to drink water.
Have more than one drinking bowl available and encourage our dog to drink enough throughout the day. If your dog tips over one water bowl, they will still have access to drinking water in the other water bowls.
Is your dog a bowl tipper? Click HERE to find out how to stop your dog from tipping over their bowl.
To keep your dog’s drinking water cool, put some ice cubes in the water, keep the water bowl inside the house where it’s cooler, and use a ceramic or clay water bowl, which stays cooler than other materials.
If you’ve heard the false scary stories that putting ice in your dog’s water bowl is dangerous, then here’s a real vet’s take on the matter:
‘Bottom line – a few ice cubes in their drinking water isn’t going to trigger the out of control rise in temperature … There is NO evidence that giving a dog ice cubes in hot weather increases their risk of heat stroke.’Quote courtesy of David Harris @ VetHelpDirect
5. Keep sunlight out of the room during the day
To keep a dog cool at night, keep the room your dog sleeps in cool by blocking out sunlight during the day. Do this by keeping the windows, blinds and/or curtains closed in that room during the day, or at least during the hottest times of day.
I have written about all the reasons why some dogs love lying in the hot sun, but sunlight coming into a room will warm it up quickly and make it difficult to cool down, even after the sun sets.
It’s best to keep the heat out of a room than to try cool it down later.
6. Give your dog a cool surface to lie on
To keep a dog cool at night, make sure there is a cool surface to lie on. A crate, dog bed, or blankets could quickly warm up your dog. A cooler surface, like tiles or wooden flooring, will help your dog to stretch out and stay cooler.
Another option for your dog to lie on is a cooling mat, such as this one from Amazon. Cooling mats work by absorbing the dog’s body heat when the dog lies on it. The mat can absorb body heat for up to 4 hours at a time.
Having space to stretch out at night and move around to cooler areas will really help your dog stay cooler.
If your dog is really struggling to sleep in the heat, wet a blanket or towel with cool, not cold, water. Let your dog lie down on the cool, wet material, if they like it.
7. Cool down the dog’s bed
There are a few ways to cool down a dog’s bed at night:
- Fill a hot water bottle with cold water and put it in the dog bed
- Freeze water in empty soft drink bottles and put the iced bottles around the bed to cool down the air
- Put a dog cooling mat (Amazon link) in your dog’s bed
- Remove heavy or warm blankets and materials from the bed
8. Cool your dog with healthy frozen snacks
Icy snacks can cool down your dog’s stomach and help a dog control their body temperature. Frozen watery snacks can also keep a dog hydrated and provide moisture, which a dog needs to regulate their body temperature through panting.
There are 3 ways to give your dog healthy, frozen snacks to keep them cool:
- Freeze water in plastic containers to make large ice cubes. Run warm water over the plastic container to loosen the ice and pop it out. Give a big ice cube to your dog to lick and chew on.
- Freeze your dog’s dinner in some water or in a kong (Amazon link).
- Freeze healthy snacks and give your dog a cube whenever the temperature rises. Be sure to cut the food into small pieces, space it out in an ice cube tray, then fill with water and freeze. You can freeze and safely feed your dog carrots, broccoli, boiled chicken, sweet potatoes, blueberries, strawberries, bananas, and apples in moderation. If you want to use plain liquid, make icy dog treats with the water after boiling rice or chicken, or freeze bone broth.
Be sure to supervise your dog if you do give ice as a treat or a meal.
9. Let your dog sleep downstairs
To keep a dog cool at night in a house with more than one level, keep the dog’s bed downstairs on the first floor or in the basement for sleeping in.
The upstairs area in a house is usually hotter because hot air rises to the second floor and cool air sinks to the lower first floor. Also, a house without an attic or an insulated roof will be even warmer upstairs.
The basement is usually the coolest area in the home because it is underground and doesn’t get sunlight like the rest of the house.
The cooler basement temperature might be a relief for your dog in summer, but make sure it doesn’t get too cold there for your dog in winter – if it’s too cold for you then it’s too cold for your dog to spend time there.
10. Keep your dog groomed
To keep a dog cool at night, make sure their fur is clean, mat free, de-shed and brushed regularly. Clean hair is soft and moves around easily, letting air through to cool down the skin underneath. If there are knots in a dog’s fur, air can’t pass through easily and it’s harder for the dog to cool down.
Dogs with long or curly coats need regular trims to prevent matting, but no dog should ever be shaved to stay cool.
A dog’s coat is designed to protect their skin from the cold, the heat, and the sun, so shaving it off removes this important protection and can permanently damage the coat.
11. Wet your dog’s paws
Dogs let out some body heat through sweat glands in their paws, so wetting the paws may help a dog cool down at night. But this won’t have any major impact on the dog’s core body temperature as dogs are designed to mainly cool down through panting and their skin.
Some dogs enjoy having their paws wet with cool water, standing in a shallow bucket or dog pool with cool water, or standing on a wet towel to cool down.
If your dog enjoys this, then there’s nothing wrong with helping them get their paws wet on hot nights.
12. Wrap the dog in a wet towel
One of the quickest ways to cool down and keep a dog cool at night is to wrap them in a wet towel. Dampen the towel with cool, not icy, water. Wrap the towel around your dog, making sure the fur and skin get wet. Then put your dog in front of a fan or give them access to an open window or the outdoors, where there’s air to cool them down.
Don’t force your dog to stay there – let them move to where they are most comfortable.
Wrapping a dog in a wet towel cools a dog down quickly for 2 reasons:
- The cool water has an immediate cooling effect on the dog’s skin. When a dog gets hot, their veins dilate and become larger, carrying more warm blood close to the surface of the skin. When the skin is cooled the blood in these veins is also cooled. The cooler blood is then carried through the veins to the rest of the body, cooling it down.
- The moving air from the fan or wind speeds up evaporation of the water on the dog, which helps to cool the dog down even more.
13. Have a calm evening routine for your dog
Keeping your dog calm with a peaceful evening routine will help to keep your dog cool at night. A routine will teach your dog that night-time is the time to relax and wind down. A calm dog uses less energy and has a lower body temperature than a playful dog that is running around.
Keep exercise and play for daytime and avoid anything energetic or too exciting in the evenings.
Have phrases that you say to your dog to prepare them for the evening and getting into bed.
14. Give a hot dog space to relax
To keep your dog cool at night, leave your dog alone to sleep and relax. Make sure your dog has fresh water and a cool spot to lie in, then let your dog decide how much they want to move around and where they want to sleep.
In nature, animals that are hot spend a lot of time sleeping and relaxing. This helps them stay cooler and not use energy being active, which makes them hotter.
What is a dog’s normal temperature?
A dog’s normal, healthy body temperature ranges between 101 and 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit (38.3 and 39.2 degrees Celsius). Some dogs keep their body temperature a little higher or lower than this, which is fine. But anything above 104 degrees Fahrenheit (40 degrees Celsius) is dangerous and needs medical help.
A human’s average body temperature is 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit (37 degrees Celsius), which is a little lower than a dog’s. So, if your dog feels a bit warmer than you, then this is normal.
A dog’s body temperature can change for a few reasons, such as shock, because of a vaccine, overheating, or heat stroke.
Here are the signs that your dog is overheating or has heatstroke:
- Constant, fast and shallow panting – this is the first symptom
- Drooling more than usual or thick saliva
- Glazed eyes
- Muscle tremors
- Uncoordinated movement
- Inability to urinate
- Bright red or bluish gums or tongue
- Fast heartbeat
The only way to accurately tell a dog’s temperature is by taking it with a thermometer.
How hot is too hot for a dog inside?
There is no rule for what temperature is safe for all dogs because each dog is different. Most dogs are usually okay in a house temperature up to 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 degrees Celsius) with access to cool water and air from an aircon, fan or open window. But humidity can make it difficult for a dog to cool down, even at a ‘safe’ room temperature.
Dogs pant to cool down. If the temperature gets too high and the air is humid, panting does not work and the dog may overheat.
Also, certain traits and breeds are more sensitive to heat than others and they cannot survive in the same temperatures as other dogs. See below for more details on why some dogs overheat much more easily than others…
Why some dogs overheat so easily
There are certain physical factors, traits and dog breeds that tend to overheat easily. These dogs need to be monitored and kept cool, especially on hot nights.
Dogs that …
- have a thick coat or long fur coat
- are very young or are still puppies
- are old
- are flat-faced, or brachycephalic, breeds, such as Pugs, Boston Terriers, and Boxers
- are overweight
- have medical issues, especially ones that cause breathing issues
- are very active, such as working or hunting breeds
… tend to overheat more easily than other dogs.