Looking at a Malamute it’s clear they were bred for an arctic climate, with their thick double coats and fat stores that allow them to feel comfortable in eye-wateringly low temperatures.
Despite their extra insulation, Malamutes have adapted well to the warmer temperatures associated with the northern hemisphere and can live happily in climates more suited to human life.
Unfortunately, there is no guarantee on the weather and even regions that experience colder annual temperatures are still susceptible to the occasional heatwave leaving Malamute owners with the difficult task of keeping their dog cool enough to stay happy.
Keeping your Alaskan Malamute cool in hot weather requires access to shaded areas, no exercise during the warmest hours, a suitable AC source, and a constant supply of clean drinking water.
Keep reading for everything you need to know to keep your Malamute cool and safe during hot weather.
Can Alaskan Malamutes live in warm climates?
For obvious reasons, it is not recommended to keep a Malamute in regions where the climate is warm, particularly those where the daily temperature regularly exceeds 68°F (20°C). This is because the hot temperatures put your Malamute at serious risk of heatstroke, a potentially fatal problem, and there is no sensible option to provide the exercise your dog needs whilst also avoiding the heat.
Some people may still choose to keep their Malamute in a hotter climate. In these cases, it is essential for it to be a mostly indoor dog and air conditioning is an absolute must.
These scenarios make looking after an already time-consuming breed even more tricky as their daily exercise is usually confined to early in the morning or late after the sun has set. Whilst it is possible for a Malamute to have a content life like this, prospective owners must be prepared to make sacrifices to their daily lives in order to keep their dog both happy and healthy.
What to AVOID when trying to cool a Malamute
As previously mentioned, heatstroke is a serious threat to Alaskan Malamutes as they were simply not bred to live in high temperatures. Keeping your Malamute cool during hot weather should be a priority!
Heatstroke in dogs is a direct result of being kept in a hot area for too long without being provided with any added support to cool down. It can onset rapidly and is particularly troublesome during humid weather as less moisture can evaporate from a dog’s tongue to cool them down.
The signs of heatstroke to look out for are:
- Glazed eyes or appearing to stare into space
- Excessive panting
- Vomiting or dry heaving
- Difficulty standing up
If you suspect your Malamute has heatstroke, contact your vet immediately for further advice.
Your Malamute should be kept in the coolest part of the house. If they are insistent on going outside (we all know how stubborn Malamutes can be!) make sure they have an adequately shaded area to relax in and don’t let them sleep in direct sunlight.
Check that their entire body is covered by the shade and keep a topped-up water dish by them at all times. You should not allow your Malamute to play strenuously outside during the hottest parts of the day as they will find it difficult to cool down again. Instead you should encourage them to play with chew toys to keep their minds occupied.
Travelling with your Malamute during hot weather should be avoided where possible – you should only put them in a car in emergencies during hot weather. For many Malamutes, travelling is already a stressful experience and being contained to a small area during hot weather is a recipe for disaster.
If it is absolutely essential for you to travel with your Malamute, ensure your car is adequately cooled down before allowing them inside and keep the air conditioning on high for the entire journey. For long journeys, take regular breaks and allow them to drink plenty of water but NEVER leave your Malamute in the car unattended and without ventilation (open windows, AC left on).
4 Tips for how to keep your Malamute cool during hot weather
So now you know what to avoid during the hot weather, here are our 5 tried and trusted methods for keeping your Malamute cool!
1. Homemade ice lollies
One of our absolute favourites and so easy to make is ice lolly treats. These can be made well in advance using disposable cups and last a long time in the freezer, so nothing goes to waste!
Not only are they a tasty and refreshing treat for your Malamute but they also keep them occupied for up to an hour and engage their minds – perfect for if they’re stuck indoors all day.
Our personal favourite recipe is to freeze sardines from a can in a disposable paper cup of water as an extra fishy bonus. Once it has completely set, the paper can be peeled away and thrown in the recycle bin – remember that your Mal doesn’t need a popsicle stick!
These treats are big enough that your Malamute shouldn’t be able to chomp through them straight away but small enough that they don’t lose interest before getting to the good part.
2. Paddling Pool
This idea requires a bit of investment but it’s more than worth it to see your Malamute keep cool and refreshed. During hot weather it’s likely that your Malamute will get restless, especially if being kept indoors, and it isn’t recommended for them to stay outdoors for too long even if completely covered by shade. Our solution to this is a kid’s paddling pool!
These can be bought from Amazon for only $20-40 and whilst they might be small for the average person to use, they are the ideal size for a Malamute and shallow enough that they can easily get in and lie down.
Most Malamutes love water and they’ll have no problem jumping in to cool themselves down – just be ready with a towel for when they need to come back indoors! We recommend that the pool should still be placed in a shaded area away from direct sunlight so your Malamute can cool down properly, and always supervise your Malamute whilst they’re in the water.
3. Brush out the undercoat
One of the first things a Malamute owner will tell you about the breed is the sheer amount of hair they shed, particularly when it blows its coat. Malamutes were bred to survive very low temperatures and hence have a double coat to keep them well insulated consisting of a soft undercoat and a coarser guard coat.
Twice a year a typical Malamute will shed their undercoat (usually in the spring and the fall) in a process known as blowing their coat and one of the best things you can do for them is keep them very well-groomed.
This means lots and lots of regular brushing to remove as much excess hair as possible and keep their coat feeling nice and light. Our Malamutes are more than happy to have a good brush and their clumps of fur can be left outside for birds to take for their nests!
Under no circumstances should you shave your Malamutes coat, no matter how hot you think they are getting. A Malamute’s coat is vital for insulation in both cold AND hot weather as a layer of air is trapped between their undercoat and their skin helping them to regulate their core temperature better.
Shaving their coat not only removes this added insulation but also makes them more prone to heatstroke and sunburn, and actually makes your Malamute feel hotter so keeping their coat intact is vital.
4. Wet towels
If you’re looking for a quick no-mess solution to cool your Malamute down, this is the trick for you! Possibly one of the most effective methods involves only an old towel or rag that has been soaked with cold water. Once the towel is sufficiently damp and cold, ring it out so that there is little water dripping off of it and drape it over your Malamute’s head and body.
The coolness of the towel will draw heat away from your Mal, helping them to better regulate their core temperature. Placing it over their head is the most effective way for them to cool down quickly as it is usually the hottest part of their body and their fur is much thinner over the scalp meaning there is less insulation.
If you are concerned that your Malamute may be experiencing heatstroke, a cold towel over them is essential to buy some time whilst you contact a vet.
Whilst Malamutes may not have been bred for hot weather, these tricks will keep them comfortable and happy when a heatwave strikes. Remember that whilst we humans can undress to cool down, Malamutes are stuck with their heavy fur coats year-round!
If you have any questions about keeping your Malamute cool during hot weather or need further advice, don’t hesitate to contact us here.