How to Take Care of a Dog Bred for Cold Weather When You Live in a Hotter Area

From Siberian Huskies to Bernese Mountain Dogs, there are plenty of pooches out there in the world of canines that have adapted to stand up to colder climates. Usually boasting a thick, dense coat, these dogs are capable of tearing across snowy landscapes without a care.

But many of those dogs are now purchased by owners who live in warmer environments. A cold weather dog can still be okay living in a place that tends to get a lot of sun during parts of the year, but you do need to take some extra steps to make sure their health is never endangered by the heat.

Watch Out for Signs of Overheating

First and foremost, you need to make sure you can spot the signs of overheating. Unfortunately, many of the preliminary signs are those you might associate with general tiredness or excitement, including excessive panting and thirst. However, your dog will also show a brighter tongue, weakness, and excessive drooling. At the first signs of overheating, get your dog into a cool environment as quickly as possible.

Provide Opportunities for Cooling

Whenever you let your dog outside during hotter weather, make sure they have ample opportunity to cool themselves off. Many owners invest in a kiddie pool that their pooches can wallow in to decrease their body temperature – as an added plus, your dog will love cavorting in the water. Of course, you can always just make sure there is a shaded area. Just make sure it's shaded during the whole day.

Continue following that philosophy when you go for walks. If you need to take your dog somewhere when the sun is still up, try making your way along tree-lined paths that can provide coverage. If you can, look for routes that also let your dog walk on grass, which will absorb less heat than the sidewalk.

Work Around the Sun

Most dogs that were bred to deal with colder temperatures were also bred to exercise hard, whether that means pulling a sled or hiking out to find people gone astray. This means that your dog will have an inbuilt desire for long runs and walks, which can be tough on them during hotter days.

The best thing to do is take them for a long exercise session at the start of the day before the sun has fully risen. The sun won't be at its strongest, and the ground will still be cool from the night before. It's also much easier to get rid of a dog's energy at the start of the day rather than having them under-stimulated before being able to take a run in the evening.

Don't Shave the Coat!

It might sound odd, but one thing you should never do is shave your dog's coat. It sounds like the obvious way to keep your dog cool—the canine equivalent of switching from sweaters to t-shirts. However, dogs do not sweat like we do; instead, they cool via the mouth, paws, and ears. This means they don't need to be shaved to facilitate sweating. In fact, your dog's undercoat insulates from heat just as well as it insulates from cold.

Most importantly, dogs have very little pigmentation in their skin because it is normally covered by thick fur. Shaving that fur away will remove their protection from the sun's rays, an act that could lead to skin problems.

For more information and tips for how to care for your winter dog in the heat, talk with a veterinarian in your area.