Hose-cooling a dog?
July 6, 2013 12:16 AM   Subscribe

It's super hot and my dog is getting old. Today I soaked her gently with cool hose water. (She doesn't love it but tolerates it well if I am gentle.) I figure it will help her cool off both as the water is running over her and later as the water evaporates. I am reading online that wet dog fur traps heat. What's the real story?
posted by Camofrog to Pets & Animals (16 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
When my Manchester terrier got old she would get heat stress and I would mop her down with a wet towel. She liked that a lot better than being sprayed by anything.
posted by jet_silver at 12:52 AM on July 6, 2013

Response by poster: Assume soaked to the skin. Does that help cool, or does that trap heat?
posted by Camofrog at 12:58 AM on July 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'd guess if the water is trapped that heat is soon trapped.
posted by StickyCarpet at 1:21 AM on July 6, 2013

why don't you touch the wet fur? If it's cold, then the evaporating water is definitely carrying off heat.
posted by esprit de l'escalier at 1:26 AM on July 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: "... Does that help cool, or does that trap heat?"
posted by Camofrog at 3:58 AM on July 6

As long as either the water, or the air about the animal, or both, is/are flowing enough that conductive heat loss to the flowing water, plus evaporative heat loss to the air exceed the heat gain from solar energy, plus the heat gain from local re-radiated energy, plus the dog's own biologically generated heat, the dog will be cooler. If the water is cut off, but local wind holds up significantly, evaporation probably still trumps solar and local re-radiated gain plus biological heat, down to a few miles per hour of wind velocity, until the fur is no longer effectively a "wet bulb."

This will of course happen sooner on dogs with thick, wiry or curly top coats, and substantial, fine undercoats, like Portuguese water dogs, chows, and poodles. These dogs effectively become dry bulbs in minutes of light wind flow, particularly if allowed to shake themselves "dry" as they will often instinctively try to do within seconds of exiting water, or stopping of water flow from a hose.
posted by paulsc at 1:27 AM on July 6, 2013 [7 favorites]

Seconding the kiddie pool idea. A friend's vet recommended it for her dog.
posted by orange swan at 4:24 AM on July 6, 2013

We froze several of these and layered them in towels for my dog to lie on when it got super-hot out.
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 6:06 AM on July 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

Yes, too wet is actually hotter than not wet at all. Cool water on the belly and paws will help keep her cool, but soaked to the skin can make them hotter than they would be otherwise. And also shaving dogs with double coats ends up making them MORE at risk for overheating, since they don't sweat through their skin (other than on their paw pads), and their coats can actually insulate them against heat as well as cold.
posted by biscotti at 6:55 AM on July 6, 2013 [2 favorites]

Try wetting the paw pads with rubbing alcohol. We do this at the animal hospital that I work at when an animal is overheating. Like our hands and feet, lots of blood gets circulated out to the extremities when a dog gets warm. The alcohol on the paw pads evaporates and helps cool the dog down.

I've also seen people pour rubbing alcohol all over horses when they finish a race. Same idea, just not sure if you want to use that much alcohol or have such a strong smelling dog.
posted by gumtree at 7:31 AM on July 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

It sounds like soaked dog will get hot again. I've seen these, but haven't tried it.
posted by vitabellosi at 8:10 AM on July 6, 2013

It's all about the airflow and humidity. If there's little no no airflow, or the humidity is high, it may just act as a humidifier for your dog, and that can keep them toastier than you'd like.

One thing that helps with our bulldogs is that we live by "cool the belly, cool the bully." If you can provide a nice cool area for the dog to lay on, such as a cool tile floor, this can help. Also, we use ice packs underneath a towel inside a dog bed. There's a lot of surface area in the belly to help cool a pooch.

Also, some dogs just won't drink enough when it's hot out. We got around this by using low-sodium chicken broth from Trader Joe's. Regular broth has a ton of sodium, even most lower sodium broths, but the Trader Joe's low sodium stuff has very little. Keep some in the fridge, and pour your dog some (preferably in a metal bowl) and put a few ice cubes in it. You can experiment with watering it down some to make it last as well. You can also pour broth or a broth water mix into ice trays and make ice cubes like that. This has been a huge help for us when we've had trouble keeping the pups cool in the summer.

(One last thing - if your dog doesn't have a sensitive tummy, get a can of Esbilac puppy formula and pour it into ice cube trays and freeze it. There ya go - now you have doggie ice cream! Give a cube or two a day as a treat.)
posted by azpenguin at 8:47 AM on July 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

Spraying water on a dog's paw pads and genitals in a good way to cool them down.
posted by whalebreath at 10:03 AM on July 6, 2013

Yes, I do the belly and armpits. I either spray or wet towel her. I also bought some cooling pads, the gel kind, and they really do stay cool for a few days. I have also bought a mister for outside to keep the air temp down.
posted by Vaike at 11:06 AM on July 6, 2013

In the past my dogs loved having a kiddie pool to wallow in like a hippo. Relatives in Houston have a mesh dog bed slightly elevated off the floor like a hammock to let cool air circulate underneath.

Here's a cold treat that my friend's dog loves. In a blender, blend a banana, peanut butter, a little plain yogurt, and a little honey until smooth. You can probably add water or broth for hydration too. Put the mixture in an ice cube tray or in little paper cups you can peel off, then freeze. Voila! Doggie ice cream.
posted by nicebookrack at 12:37 PM on July 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

I "like" the shelter where I adopted my dog on Facebook, and from time to time they post general dog care tips (which is good, because I'm a newish dog owner). They recently posted a "what to do in hot weather" thing that included giving your dog access to water to swim/soak/play in. Which implies that, if wet fur traps heat, it at least can't be more dangerous than dry dog fur.

I also have neighbors with huskies, and they hose their dogs down on especially hot days. The huskies seem to be doing fine with this arrangement.

(Re humidity, I live in Southern California. YMMV of course.)

My dog heat tip is to fill a kong or similar toy with yogurt and freeze. Froyo chew toy!
posted by Sara C. at 12:16 AM on July 7, 2013

Here in AZ, I hose my dog down before our early morning runs... seems to make a world of difference. But yeah... your mileage my vary. Here it's very dry, so evaporation is a given. Not so sure about other parts of the country.
posted by ph00dz at 5:08 PM on July 7, 2013

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