It’s natural to think about protecting kenneled dogs when temperatures are very cold and snow is on the ground, but it can be harder to realize how important it is to keep dogs comfortable in hot weather. However, hot weather can be extremely dangerous for dogs so it is important to know how to keep dog kennels cool in summer.
Not only can dogs be uncomfortable in excessively warm temperatures, but they can also suffer from heatstroke, which can be deadly. It’s very important to make sure that you’re taking the necessary steps to protect your dog in warm weather.
When is Warm Weather Climate Control Most Important?
All dogs need temperature control. Any dog can overheat in excessively hot weather. However, there are some cases in which it is even more important for you to be sure that kennels are sufficiently cool:
Brachycephalic dogs have short muzzles that can make it more difficult for them to pant and effectively cool themselves off. They have a narrower trachea, which could make it difficult for them to breathe, especially when they are trying to pant to cool off.
Examples of brachycephalic breeds include Bulldogs, Boxers, Boston Terriers, and Shih Tzus. Mixed breed dogs can also inherit the shortened snout from one or both parents. If you have brachycephalic dogs, it is essential to be aware of the ease with which they can overheat and prevent them from having to struggle with very warm temperatures.
Pregnant and Nursing Mothers and Puppies
Dogs who are pregnant or nursing and young puppies can all be more susceptible to hot weather. Pregnant dogs may be less able to regulate their own body temperature and tend to feel hotter.
Nursing mothers are constantly losing hydration through milk, which can make it harder for them to make up for the water they lose while panting by drinking water. Very young puppies have difficulty managing their own temperature and may not know to get out of sunshine. Mothers and puppies should be protected from the heat and should probably not be kept in a kennel with an open run in hot weather.
As dogs get older, they may not be able to regulate their body temperature as well. Dogs can suffer from a form of dementia that is not unlike human dementia.
Older dogs that are suffering from this condition may stay in the sunshine even as they overheat. If you have older dogs kenneled, it’s important to observe their behavior and ensure that they are making good decisions about cooling themselves off.
Warm Weather Tips for Your Kennel
Always Make Sure There’s Plenty of Water
Most dogs can do a pretty good job of keeping themselves from overheating assuming the conditions aren’t too hot and they have plenty of water. However, a knocked-over water bowl can become a serious situation very quickly.
An automatic water bowl can be a good way to make sure that there’s always a supply of fresh water. However, you’ll still need to regularly check to make sure nothing has gone wrong and to clean the basin.
Whether you have an automatic water bowl or not, you need a bowl that is held firmly in place with a welded metal frame and a metal spring. You don’t want to take any chances with the bowl being tipped over on a hot day.
While dogs likely enjoy a bit of sunshine in the cool winter months, in the summer they’ll want to get away from the heat of the sun. If the sun is shining directly into the outer part of the kennel, dogs may feel torn between wanting to get away from the heat into the inner part of the kennel and wanting to stay outside to catch interesting smells and see what’s going on.
You don’t want to put your dog in the position of having to decide whether they want to be cool and bored or hot and engaged. Make sure that there is sufficient shade in the outer part of the kennel throughout the day.
Enable Air Circulation
If you choose not to have an air conditioner in your kennel, you will want to make sure that there is plenty of air circulation in the inner part of the kennel. Windows in the inner portion allow air to circulate freely throughout the building and in and out of each individual kennel.
Good air flow can carry away body heat and ensure that continuous fresh air is being brought to dogs. Fans are also very helpful in encouraging good air circulation.
Install Air Conditioners or Fans
In very hot climates, an air conditioner can make all the difference in the world by providing sufficient cool temperatures to your kennels. In more temperate climates, fans may be sufficient.
Where your kennel is located is also an important element in deciding whether you need an air conditioner or whether fans are good enough. A kennel housed under tree cover in a cool area of the yard may not get nearly as hot as a kennel in direct sunlight, even in the same climate.
As a rule of thumb, if you are cool enough with just a fan, your dog likely will be as well. However, if you are uncomfortably hot and sweating with a fan, your dog would probably appreciate an air conditioner.
At Horizon Structures, we are happy to install air conditioners directly into the kennel. You can choose between a 5000 and 10000 BTU air conditioning unit.
If you choose to have air conditioning in your dog kennel, be sure that you choose well-insulated dog doors so that the cold air doesn’t shoot out into the kennel. Dogs can easily be trained to use their dog door by tossing a few treats and showing dogs how to push the door open and closed as they need.
Fans can be installed overhead or mounted on walls. Just be certain that wherever the fan is mounted, dogs won’t be able to chew on it or end up sticking a tail or paw through the grate into an active fan.
Consider an Optional Water Feature
Some dogs love to cool off by getting wet. There are a number of things you can do to provide them with the opportunity for water fun. You can purchase a doggie fountain that your dog can step on to send a stream of water into the air. This can be a great way to cool off and also a secondary source of drinking water. Another option is to put a small pool into the outside portion of the kennel so that dogs can lie in it if they like.
A water feature is another thing that you will need to maintain, so it may not be a good option for the entire summer, but it can be a fun source of enrichment as well as a way to cool off on the hottest days. If you provide a water feature, make sure to put it in a shaded portion of the kennel so that it stays cool.
Make Dog Popsicles
One great way to cool your dog down in the hot weather and provide some valuable enrichment during their kennel time is to make dog popsicles. These can be made of just about anything that your dog likes to eat.
Many dogs enjoy just munching on ice cubes or licking large blocks of ice. However, you can make it a lot more fun by freezing pieces of fruit like apples or strawberries into the ice. Freezing chicken broth is also a great way to give your dog a delicious treat and also some healthy protein. Greek yogurt is another good ingredient to add to dog popsicles.
Just see what your dog enjoys and experiment with different sizes and recipes for popsicles until you find what works well for you and your dog.
Take Steps to Avoid Pests
Temperature isn’t the only thing to keep in mind when it comes to warm weather. Pests also tend to become much more prevalent in the warmer months. Be sure that your dog is up-to-date on heartworm and flea prevention.
Keep grass and shrubbery that goes up to the edge of the kennel trimmed short to prevent pests from accumulating there. Make sure that only as much food as your dog needs is left in the kennel at any time, as a bowl of uneaten food can attract pests like cockroaches.
Keep Your Dog Safe and Comfortable in Their Kennel in the Hot Weather
Your dog can be very comfortable in their kennel even as temperatures skyrocket, provided you take steps to protect them from the heat. Make sure that your dog has access to cooler temperatures using either fans or air conditioner units.
Be sure that there is plenty of shade in the outside portion of the kennel and good air circulation in the inside portion. Extras like a water fountain or pool to play in and doggy popsicles can also be very helpful to make the warm weather enjoyable for your dog.