how to keep dogs cool while camping

How to Keep Dogs Cool while Camping

The warmer weather is fast approaching, and with it comes all of the beautiful camping trips and outdoor adventures that summer brings. While the change in seasons does mean that you no longer have to convince your dog they would be better off bundled up in a sleeping bag overnight, it still comes with its fair share of challenges. The big one being; how to keep dogs cool while camping?


We’ve gathered the most effective ways to keep your dog cool while camping in warm weather.


Table of Contents

Do Dogs Get Heatstroke?

Unfortunately, our furry friends are just as susceptible to heat and sun exposure as we are.


Be sure to actively monitor your pet for signs of overheating when participating in any outdoor activities during the summer. The symptoms of heatstroke can include:

  • Excessive panting
  • Lethargy 
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea  
  • Drooling
  • Seizures
  • Lack of urine
  • Red, dry, or extremely light gums
  • Confusion


adult golden retriever walking on grass

Heatstroke can set in very quickly and is serious. If you believe your dog may be suffering from heatstroke, remove them from the situation immediately and provide shade and water. Retreating indoors is best if possible.


You will need to contact a local veterinary practice immediately. Dogs can recover from heatstroke, but will likely require immediate medical treatment.


If they spend enough time exposed to the sun, dogs can also become sunburnt. SPF for dogs is a must-pack on any outdoor trip, but particularly important during the summer and when in or around water. As an added precaution, it never hurts to pack a hat for your dog if they have fine or fair fur.


What Temperature Is Too Hot For Dogs?

Many pet owners agree that caution should be taken once temperatures hit around 77 degrees. This opinion can vary, and exactly how susceptible your dog is to the heat will depend on two main factors:


Your dog’s breed and natural heat tolerance

how to keep a dog cool while campingSnow and sled dogs such as Huskies and Alaskan Malamutes may struggle more in high temperatures. Breeds like Chihuahuas, Australian Cattle Dogs, and Kelpies can still fall prey to heatstroke but are going to be able to handle hot days a bit better than their cousins from the Northern Hemisphere.


Dogs with shorter airways, like Pugs and Bulldogs, are also thought to be more at risk during high temperatures. 


The dog’s environment and its weather extremes

If you live in a cooler climate and are planning a summer vacation to a warm location, remember that the temperature change will be a big adjustment for your dog. 


Even if they are considered a warm-weather breed, having lived in a cold environment will make rising temperatures feel like quite a shock. It may take their body time to adjust to the sudden change in the weather. 


How To Keep Dogs Cool While Camping?

Let’s get into it – what are the best tricks for keeping dogs cool while camping? Here are our top seven tried-and-true methods:


1. Keep them hydrated.

Water is the key to preventing heatstroke in both humans and animals. 


When at your base camp, always have a water bowl located in the shade and is accessible to your pet. Check it frequently throughout the day to make sure that it’s clean and full. If it’s a very warm day, the water is likely to draw in other animals, so your dog might not have had as much to drink as it seems.


If you’re staying in a spot without access to water, a good rule of thumb is to pack 2 liters more than you think you will need. Packing a cooler bag full of ice for you and your dog to crunch on is also an easy way to sneak in some extra hydration.


2. Pack cold treats.

Giving cold treats is one way on how to keep dogs cool while camping.Ice isn’t the only chilled snack you can give your dog to keep cool. Snacks like frozen cheese, tuna, and bananas are all great options. If your dog is willing to eat it, you can probably freeze it!


Treats like peanut butter hidden in a frozen chew toy are another great way to lower your pet’s body temperature, with the extra benefit of keeping your dog busy during the hottest parts of the day.


3. Take advantage of mornings and evenings.

When camping in summer, it’s best to plan your activities around the cooler periods that take place in the early morning and late evening. The middle of the day can then be used for rest, lazy play (again – a good chew toy is a great investment), and camp chores.


Hiking, running, and playing all exert energy which will make your dog’s body temperature rise faster. While this won’t have much of an impact during the early morning and late afternoon, participating in unnecessary physical activity during the hottest parts of the day can be dangerous during the peak of summer.


A bonus is that sunrise and sunset hikes are particularly beautiful! Getting up early or venturing out a bit later in the day will not only keep both you and your dog cool, but can show you some amazing moments you might otherwise have missed. 


4. Swimming and water play

how to keep a dog cool when campingSwimming is undeniably one of the best parts of summer camping with a dog. On top of being incredibly fun, it’s a great way to cool down and spend some quality time with your pooch. If you’re looking for a way to make it a bit more exciting, why not give one of these five water activities a try? 


Don’t worry! Even if you don’t have access to a swimming spot, that doesn’t mean you have to miss out on all of the fun. Using a spray bottle to mist your dog will help to keep them cool and can lead to some old-fashioned water play. 


5. Create your own shade.

Even if you are a minimal packer, consider splurging on a pop-up canopy or awning for when temperatures are really set to soar.


This equipment gives you the option to set up anywhere you would like and still have extra shade for your dog to retreat to.  In a busy campground during the summertime, there is no guarantee you will be able to secure a shady spot. This makes being able to create your own incredibly important. 


6. Use a portable fan.

Keeping your tent cool creates a safe space for your dog to retreat to and makes for a better night’s sleep. 


Portable, battery-powered fans are cheap to pick up and easy to operate. While it might not always feel like they make much of a difference, they keep the air circulating inside of the tent. Even a slight breeze can make a dramatic difference in such an enclosed space.


7. Try a cooling towel or mat.

Providing a wet towel is one way on how to keep dogs cool while camping.Wet and frozen towels are a fantastic way to reduce your dog’s body temperature in a pinch.



You can either soak the towel in cold water or store it in your cooler bag with ice. Once the towel is cold to the touch, simply drape it over your dog’s back or invite them to lay on it. 


Cooling mats are another great way to provide respite from the heat. They can fit snugly into a crate or on an elevated bed to give your dog some relief when resting on a hot day.


Chilled towels make for a great alternative if you are unable to take along a dedicated cooling pad. We particularly like this option in the middle of the day, paired with a frozen chew toy and a pop-up canopy.


Final Thoughts

Keeping dogs cool while camping doesn’t have to be complex, and you definitely shouldn’t let fear of the warmer weather stop your adventures in their tracks! With a little bit of knowledge and preparation, you and your dog will be ready to create a lifetime’s worth of summer memories.


Jenni C.
Jenni C.

Jenni and her dog Bailey take every opportunity to go adventuring together. Now their family of pups has grown to 7. Their favorite places to visit are freshwater lakes and mountains.