A pet owner that knows how to cool down a dog that is overheating can be a great aid to their best friend in time of distress, but there are are few basic rules that need to be followed closely. Not all dogs that are overheating require human intervention, and among those that do the actions taken need to match the severity of the dog's issue with overheating. Simply because a dog is panting on a hot day does not mean that it is in peril - the dog is using the only measure available to it to cool down. An excellent way to tell if your dog is truly overheating and is in need of assistance is to use a rectal thermometer on the animal, if one is unavailable a good sign that a dog is overheating too much is by the presence of a swollen tongue.
To cool down a dog that is minimally overheating the easiest actions are to take the animal to a shaded area and restrict the dogs activity until it appears to have cooled sufficiently. Give the dog small amounts of cool water at 15 minute intervals, and then wipe the dog's body with a cool, damp cloth. In a very short time frame the dog should appear to return to it's normal self and can resume activities.
To cool down a dog that is severely overheating requires the use of a combination of measures aimed toward attacking the issue on several fronts. First move your dog to a shaded area and pour cool water over the dog for several minutes - moving water works better than submerging your dog in a pool of water simply because moving water absorbs more of the heat from your dog's body. Apply cooling pads or ice packs briefly (1 minute or so) to the back of your dog's neck, and then dry the dog thoroughly. A dog that is overheating can then be placed in an air conditioned car for a few minutes to finish the cooling process.
Any time that a pet owner attempts to cool down a dog that is overheating it becomes imperative the monitor the animal's body temperature constantly, and if this is not practical to closely observe the dog's reaction to treatment. In severe cases of a dog overheating the once swollen tongue will visibly begin to reduce in size as treatment relieves the overheating issue and the dog begins to cool. It is critical to your dog's health to cease all measures as soon as it becomes apparent that treatment is working, because the dog's body temperature will continue to drop after treatment stops and the dog then becomes in danger of having too low a body temperature.In severe cases of overheating get your dog to a veterinarian as soon as possible, even if the symptoms are relieved by your efforts.