Summer may bring plenty of fun in the sun – but it also brings high temperatures that can leave your dog less active, uncomfortable and, if not moderated, in danger of heat exhaustion or even heat stroke. Although Brachycephalic dogs, such as Bulldogs and Pugs, are especially at risk during hot weather, all dogs, from those with short coats to those burdened by heavy coats, are affected by extreme heat. With a few steps, though, you can keep your dog cool and comfortable:
Always have plenty of cool, fresh water readily available
Dogs cool themselves by panting — and that panting makes them extra thirsty. Be sure to have cool, fresh water available at all times, including during your summer walks.
Never leave your dog alone in a car
Every year, dogs die in hot cars. It only takes minutes for temperatures in a closed car to reach dangerous and even deadly levels, even on days that are not boiling. Cracked windows do little to relieve the heat buildup. Think you’ll just run into the store and leave your dog in the car with the air-conditioner running? Think twice about that; if your engine stalls, your dog could die in the sweltering car. Plan your schedule so that your dog can accompany you on the errand or leave him at home.
Groom your dog for summer
All dogs, regardless of fur type, should be brushed during the summer months to remove loose fur that, left in place, will mat and prevent air from reaching your dog’s skin. For some dogs, a summer haircut is also appropriate. Talk with your groomer about a suitable cut for your breed of dog. Some Northern breeds like Huskies are not shaved during the summer due to damage to the outer coat. Other breeds, like the Poodle and Shih Tzu, are often trimmed to a cooler Puppy Cut during the summer months. Ask your groomer about a “tummy tunnel”, cutting the fur on his belly extra short to allow him to cool down when he lies on the floor.
Buy your dog a kiddie pool
For just a few dollars, you can purchase your dog a children’s wading pool that will provide hours of cooling fun.
Make your own frozen dog treats
Frozen treats are super easy to make and can be a fun and low-calorie way to cool your dog. Freeze a mixture of water and low-sodium chicken broth or toss in a few of your dog’s favorite fruits and vegetables or even some pieces of kibble.
Look for cooling bandanas
Cooling bandanas with special non-toxic beads that swell when soaked can be tied around your dog’s neck. These fashionable and functional accessories are especially helpful on summer hikes. If you do not have a special cooling bandana, soak your dog’s regular bandana in cool water.
Check out cooling mats
Dogs love wet dirt or cool tile floors, but a more portable solution is a cooling mat. Various styles are filled with either non-toxic gel or water that you add, offering a cool alternative to a pet bed. No cooling mat? Wet a towel and offer it to your dog as a lounge pad.
Always make sure your dog has a shaded area
It is best for your dog to be indoors during the heat of the day, but if he will need to be outside, be sure that he has a shaded area. If you do not have trees in your yard, create a tarped area to provide shade, especially during the hot afternoon hours.
Plan your walks with the weather in mind
Early morning walks are especially important during the hottest months of the year, not only when the air temperature is cooler, but also when asphalt and pavement is cooler. Your dog cools himself through his paw pads; walking on hot pavement does not just run the risk of blistering his feet, but also makes it difficult for him to cool his body temperature. If you are walking during the hotter hours, try to find grassy areas so your dog is off the pavement and hot surfaces.
A simple trick from the Moon Valley Canine Training Center, known as the five-second rule, recently went viral on Facebook: Place the back of your hand on the pavement. If you cannot hold it for five seconds, it is too hot to walk your dog.
Wet the ground where your dog lies
Spray the area where your dog likes to hang out to wet it and cool down your dog. Dogs instinctively scratch to uncover the cool, damp dirt.
We all know that it is hard to have fun when all you can think about is how hot you are – so make sure that your dog enjoys this summer by keeping him cool.