Summer is a wonderful time of year, bringing longer days, less stress, and more adventures. It also means soaring temperatures and sometimes unbearable heat. As much fun as this time of year can be, it also comes with challenges and potential danger for our furry friends. Here are 10 tips to help your dog beat the summer heat.
1) Hydration, Hydration, Hydration
It goes without saying that keeping your pup hydrated is one of the best things you can do to help them keep their cool. Always ensure they have plenty of fresh water, and when you go on walks or car rides, be sure to bring enough water for both of you. Another easy way to up their hydration is to simply add a little water to their food at each meal. This is especially important if you’re feeding your pup kibble (dry food), which falls short of how much moisture animals actually require in their diet.
2) Exercise Smart, Not Hard
Exercise your pup (and yourself) during the cooler parts of the day, typically early in the morning or late at night. Stick to walks or light jogs, or better yet, take your dog for a cooling swim. Vigorous exercise is wonderful for healthy dogs, but this is the time of year to take it easy.
3) Add Cooling Foods
Adding cooling foods to your dog’s diet is a great way to help them chill from the inside out. Plus, they’ll love the variety. Add a small amount of the following foods to your dog’s meal daily (or give them as tasty treats) to help reduce the temperature within their body: apples, celery, cucumbers, alfalfa, or spinach. You can also add aloe vera gel or juice and coconut oil.
4) Keep Your House Cool
If your pup is home alone, make sure they can really chill out. Keep your house as cool as you would for yourself if you were home… and wearing a fur coat. Close the drapes and run the air conditioning. If you don’t have air conditioning, get creative: set up a fan in front of a pan of ice, lay down a wet towel soaked in ice water for your dog to lie on, or find a shady spot outside and set up a kiddie (or doggie) pool.
5) Check the Pavement
If the pavement is too hot for your hand, it’s too hot for your pup’s paw pads. If you have to walk your dog in the hotter parts of the day, be sure to stay on the grass and off the asphalt. You can also try dog booties – just like boots prevent your dog’s paws from absorbing the cold in the winter, they also protect them from the heat in summer.
6) Ditch the Doghouse
Avoid leaving your dog alone outside for long period of time in the height of summer. When you do let them outside, ditch the doghouse. While plenty of shade is important, trees are better than doghouses. Trees allow air flow, while doghouses can actually trap the heat and make it worse. If you don’t have any trees in your yard, you can buy a patio umbrella to help them keep cool when outside.
7) Never Leave Your Dog Alone in the Car
Just don’t do it. No, not even if you think it’ll only be a few minutes. Even if it doesn’t feel that hot outside, even if you’ve cracked the windows, even if you’re parked in the shade, temperatures inside a parked car can soar. On an 85-degree day, it can reach 102 F within 10 minutes… with a window cracked. If you have to run out, leave your pup at home, or go somewhere that they can tag along.
8) Watch for Signs of Overheating
Unfortunately, your dog can’t tell you when they’re burning up, so watch for these signs of heatstroke on hot summer days:
- Heavy panting
- Heavy drooling
- Rapid heartbeat
- Dark or red gums and tongue
- Trouble breathing
If you see any of these signs, get your dog to the vet ASAP.
9) Take Extra Care of At-Risk Dogs
Do you know if your pet is more susceptible to heatstroke? Some factors are obvious, but others not so much. Here’s the pups whose risk is heightened:
- Older dogs
- Overweight dogs
- Dogs with dark fur – Their coats absorb heat more readily.
- Dogs with breathing problems – Dogs don’t sweat, but rather cool themselves down by panting. If your pup has trouble breathing, it’s harder for them to release heat this way.
- Snub-nosed dogs – Breeds with shorter snouts like bulldogs or pugs have smaller airways, making it harder for them to release heat when they pant.
Take thorough measures to keep these dogs cool when temperatures soar, and keep an extra eye out for any signs of overheating.
10) Ice Is Nice
Ice is another great way to cool your dog down from the inside out. Add ice to their water bowl whenever possible. Plus, you can get creative with frozen treats:
You can make tasty frozen treats in your standard ice trays. Simply water down some peanut butter, pour it into the trays, and freeze for 4 to 5 hours. You can also try freezing low-sodium chicken broth, and sticking a little treat or a few blueberries in the middle. Your pup will love them, and it’s a great way to keep them entertained as well.
When it comes to summer and your dog, a good rule of thumb to remember is that if you’re hot, your canine companion probably is too. So as temperatures soar, follow these tips to keep your pup cool and calm all season long.