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Keepin’ your dog cool (on a budget and beyond)

Updated: Jun 14, 2021

It’s 90+ degrees out. Your pooch is puddle. Everyone is melting.

Cooling off on a budget

Summer can be rough on our furry critters. Here’s a few quick ideas for low-budget solutions to beat the heat.

No AC? Create your own swamp cooler

Items needed: Ice cubes, bowl, fan, and maybe a stool or box

Fill a bowl with ice. Place bowl in front of fan so that majority of air is blowing over the top of the bowl. Fan will now blow the air being chilled by the ice. Works best in small spaces (think bedroom w/ closed door), or with staying near/in front of the fan. If your dog is crate trained, setting up a swamp cooler in front of the crate can be a good solution in some cases (though if doing this for the first time, make sure your dog has the option to opt out by leaving the crate open.

Wet towel to the toes and tums

Dogs cool down best via their chest/tummy and their feet. If you want to cool down your pooch, but you can’t shake them of their conviction that ALL WATER == BATHTIME == EVIL, another good way to cool them down is wet a towel with cool water, wring it out, and give them a good rub down on their underside and paw pads. If they will tolerate it, try holding the damp towel against their underside for 15-30 seconds. They may still give you that, “I don’t understand why you’re so mean to me” look, but they at least be cooler, and it’s not quite on the same order of betrayal as, say, unceremoniously dumping a bucket over their head.

Backyard Canine Water Park

If you have a dog that likes water games and you have access to an outdoor space with a water source, why not set your dog up with a pool? You can do this in a bunch of ways, depending on the size of your dog. Check out these options:

(Your dog needs to be tall enough to step over sides)

Medium to large dogs


(the long, flat kind)

Small or short-legged dogs


(hard plastic)

Small to medium dogs


Of course, you can also always look into actual kiddie pools or pools designed for dogs; those will usually bring the price up to between $30-$80.

For the non-kiddie pool options, you may want to add in a rubber bath mat to help keep your dog from slipping. (Plan on saying goodbye to it for any other use.)

Once you’ve picked your “pool”, fill it about halfway with water, and encourage your dog to play games in and around it. If your dog likes water spray, add some sprinklers to the mix and you’ll have your own little canine water park. (Skip this step if your dog’s not into being sprayed with water.)

To get the most out of your canine pool:

Before filling the pool, make sure your dog has recently done their business. (It’s super irritating to fill your pool and have your dog immediately pee in it.)

Make sure the pool you pick is made of durable, hard plastic

  • Dog nails are strong, and will easily tear through fabric, inflatables, or light plastic, even without active digging.

  • Some dogs really like to dig in water, and this can sometimes mean a quick end to your canine pool unless you go for durability.

Add toys

  • Floaty toys, balls, large plastic hard-balls are all good pool choices.

  • If you have a dog that really likes to dig, consider adding a large tub or bucket that they can get their digging instinct out on (rather than your pool, which is likely more expensive to replace)

Establish pool rules

  • No peeing in the pool

  • No biting the pool

  • No excessive digging in the pool

More ways to cool your canine

This next list requires a bit more budget & planning, but can make a big difference in helping keep your dog cool during the hottest parts of the year.

Kristen Guy

Kristen Guy is a former dog trainer and forever dog enthusiast. She enjoys hiking, rock climbing, dancing, data, and all things canine. She lives in south San Jose with her rescue dog, Daisy - a chihuahua/corgi mix aptly rebranded as a North American Racing Corgi. 


Disclosure: Some of the links in this article may be affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. Thank you!

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