Summertime means it’s time to get outside with your dog! Trips to the beach, long walks, and playing in the park are just some of the activities you can do with your four-legged buddy. But summer can also get hot. Very hot.
Which is why keeping your dog cool during the summer is as important as all the fun the two of you will have together. But how do you keep your dog from overheating while frolicking under the sun? We have some tips and tricks to help keep your dog as cool as a cucumber, so read on!
Know Thy Mutt
Some dog breeds fare better in the summer than others. Dogs with short hair, or those that trace their origins in the warmer regions of the world, do well in the heat. Dogs from the other end of the spectrum; however, (double coats, cold regions) need more attention when the temperature rises.
Examples of dogs that do great in the summer are Dobermans, Chihuahuas, and beagles. The Siberian husky, St. Bernard, and Akita are kings of the north and thrive in colder climates.
Take precautions if you own a flat-nosed (Brachycephalic) dog, such as a pug, bulldog or Shih-Tzu. Brachycephalic dog breeds have breathing issues and have a harder time when the weather is hot.
Seek the Shade
When you’re out, and the sun is blazing, always look for the shade. In fact, avoid going out at noon with your dog! It’s best if you take your dog out early in the morning or the late afternoon (when the sun is going down) and evening.
Bring your dog indoors if it gets too hot outside. Don’t let your pets stay outside in the doghouse, either. Dog houses have poor insulation and air distribution properties, making it feel like an oven inside a small space like a doghouse. It’s better if your dog stays under the shade of a tree, surrounded with water and a cooling blanket.
Hold the Clippers
Some dogs have double coats that act as insulation for both hot and cold weather. If you own a double coated dog breed such as a Shih-Tzu, Irish terrier or golden retriever, hold off on shaving the coat! The top layer is there to block out the sun, while the undercoat is your dog’s natural cooling system. If your dog’s coat is messy, matted and tangled, go to the vet or groomer immediately. Also, don’t forget to apply a little sunscreen on your dog’s nose, because snouts are prone to sunburn!
Turn Up the AC
If the weather gets nasty and too hot for your dog, get them inside and turn on the air conditioner. Remember, dogs don’t sweat the way humans do. Panting helps them distribute body temperature, and their coats act as natural insulation and cooling. The cold air from the AC will help lower your dog’s temperature and avoid overheating. This is especially helpful if your dog is showing signs of heat stroke or dehydration.
I’m Your Biggest Fan
If you don’t have an AC, get your dog in front of an electric fan. Try spraying a little mist using a spray bottle filled with cold water. Dogs love staying in front of electric fans when the weather gets toasty, so be sure to have one ready when summer rolls around. Even if your dog stays outside in the shade, setting up an electric fan where they stay can help keep them fresh.
When you’re out with your dog during the summer, water is crucial to avoid dehydration. Make sure you bring more than enough water for you and your pup. Bring collapsible dog bowls to make it easier for your dog to stay hydrated. A good idea is to freeze your dog’s water overnight, so it stays cold for the rest of the day. Your dog can always lick the frozen ice water if needed!
Have Fun with Water
When the summer gets hot, and your dog wants to keep going, set up a kiddie swimming pool in your backyard. This is a fun way to spend time with your four-legged friend without getting too hot under the collar. You and your kids will want to jump in there with Fluffy! If you don’t have a pool, a regular sprinkler system or a hose will do the trick. You can also get a wet blanket and let your dog lay down on it when it gets too hot.
Ice, Ice, Baby!
Everybody loves ice cream, and this includes your dog! Freeze some broth or water with a dog treat inside and watch your dog lick the heat of the summer away. If you have a recipe for some homemade dog ice cream, give it a go. Dog popsicles (“dogsicles”) also work!
The pavement also heats up during the summer. Don’t let your dog walk on a hot street with bare paws. Choose a path with grass or soil. Getting your dog some booties is also an option if Fido doesn’t mind wearing them. Dog booties also work great during winter, so if you’re going to get a four-pair, choose an all-weather one.
We’re sure you’ve read or heard about the horror stories of irresponsible dog owners leaving their dogs inside a parked car. Please, for the love of Odin’s Beard, do not leave your dog alone in a parked car! Never go to places where you can’t take your dog with you.
The CDC says that the temperature inside a car parked in the sun can reach up to 172°F during a 100°F hot day. Anything except the Devil himself will die inside a vehicle parked under direct sunlight. If you must leave your dog inside a car, make sure the AC is on full blast, and someone is with them at all times.
Keep it Short
Daily exercise and playtime are vital for your dog, and you should continue to keep your scheduled routines. When the temperature outside rises, try to keep outdoor activities, and overall time spent outside, short. Even a little play and a short walk are better than nothing! Be sure to seek the shade and stay hydrated to avoid overheating.
During the summer months, you have to keep an eye out for signs of dehydration and heat stroke. This could spell life and death for your dog, so please take note and go to the vet immediately if you see any of these warning signs:
- Rapid heartbeat
- Excessive drooling
- Heavy panting
- Difficulty breathing
- Dark tongue and gums
- Staggering and dizziness
- Depression and weakness
You can also check your dog’s skin. If you gently pinch an area of your dog’s neck and it takes time for it to go back to normal, this may be a sign of dehydration.
Enjoy the Summer!
Summer with your dog is all about fun in the sun! But you also have to be aware of the dangers of staying out in the sun for too long. Dogs are prone to heat stroke and dehydration, so make sure to keep in the shade and stay hydrated.
Watch out for any signs of overheating, and take the appropriate steps to counter it. When in doubt, go to the vet ASAP! Being prepared for the heat will keep your dog cool during the summer and can save your dog’s life.
Chelsie, a lifelong dog owner, and animal shelter volunteer is a journalist at doglab – their team spends hundreds of hours physically testing and reviewing dog products so that you can ensure your pup has the best.