Are you wondering how to keep your dogs cool as the calendar edges toward summer? Hot weather doesn’t have to mean an end to fun with your dog–but you do need to take some precautions to keep your dog safe.
We have a lot of practice keeping our dogs cool on hot days, whether we’re at home or enjoying a day trip with them. Summer may last from late June through late September most places–but in Texas we are accustomed to many more months of summer heat. Our forecasts can all too often look just like this:
So we’ve come up with 13 ways to keep your dog cool–no matter how hot the day gets!
Barli and Tiki hang out indoors by the AC vents on these hot summer days. They like to stay outside an extra half hour after the morning walk but, other than that, they’re only outside for a quick potty run.
During cooler weather, our dogs enjoy being in the front yard during the morning (squirrel alert!) for an couple of hours; they usually ask to go outdoors right after they eat their post-walk breakfast. When summer temperatures arrive, they just eat then head up to my office to spend the day.
Make a cool place to lie outdoors
It’s better for your dogs to be indoors in the heat but if your dogs are going to be outside for a few hours, make sure they have a cool place to lie.
Water down the porch and wet an area in the shaded portion of the yard to keep them cool.
Our dogs have raised Cooleroo beds on the porch that allow air flow beneath them to keep them cool. (They’re also great for dogs with arthritis to keep the weight off their joints.)
Ahh…we all love that cool towel on a hot day and so do our dogs. Wet an old towel or sheet then wring it out and pop it in your freezer. When it’s chilled (you don’t have to wait for it to freeze), spread it out as an optional place for your dog to lie.
We also have a cooling mat; it’s great for use around the house. These don’t require water or refrigeration. After 20 minutes of non-use, it recharges and is ready to cool down your dog again.
On these hot days, we get up extra early to take our dog walk and do any outdoor chores that need to be done for the day.
If you are planning a walk during the heat of the day, check out cooling vests. Soak an evaporative cooling vest in water before placing it on your dog.
Make your morning walk your longest walk
Our morning walk is the longest of the day, taken in the coolest part of the day.
Our evening walk is taken as late as possible. I don’t like walking after dark (there are no streetlights in the country!) so I take our second walk of the day around sundown.
If your dog is especially sensitive to heat, though, the evening walk is a hotter one than the morning walk–due to radiating heat from pavement and sidewalks.
Be sure to make those walks slow ones; now’s not the time to start that fitness program with Fido.
Be sure to pay special attention to brachycephalic dogs like pugs or bulldogs who have a difficult time cooling off in the heat due to their shortened muzzle. Heat stroke is a very real risk for dogs.
Be sure to keep your dog brushed during the heat; mats really hold extra body heat.
Tiki gets a summer haircut and we keep both dogs brushed (and we use a FURminator) to remove any loose fur.
Tiki also gets a “tummy tunnel” haircut on her belly with almost all hair cut as short as possible, helping her to cool off on our hardwood floors.
Stay off the pavement
Have you ever gone barefoot on hot pavement? It’s painful and can cause blistering on your feet…and the same thing can happen to your dog’s paw pads.
Try to walk your dog in the cooler part of the day and walk your dog on cool surfaces like grass.
Short-legged dogs also have the added discomfort of having their bellies close to the pavement that radiates heat throughout the day.
If you’ll be walking your dog on pavement in the heat, summer dog booties are important to protect his paw pads. Be sure to select breathable dog booties so your dog’s paw pads are getting cooling air–your dog’s paw pads help him regulate his body temperature.
Another option is paw wax like Musher’s Secret Pet Paw Protection Wax.
You might think of Musher’s wax for use during the winter to protect your dog’s paws from ice and salt but the all-natural, 100 percent wax-based cream also protects paws cracked by summer heat and swimming.
Consider a Cooling Bandana
You’ll can purchase cooling bandanas or make your own.
Regular bandanas can be folded and sewn to hold non-toxic, water-absorbing polymer beads. You’ll then soak the cooling bandana in water, the polymer beads will swell up, then you’ll tie the bandana around your dog’s neck for some cool relief.
If you have two dogs and one likes to chew the other’s bandana, though, skip the beads and just wet the bandana and refrigerate it before your next trip outdoors.
Another cheap alternative is to tuck a few ice cubes in a bandana, fold it up, then tie it around your dog’s neck where it slowly melts and cools your canine.
You’ll also find commercial bandanas specially made for your dog; like the homemade cooling bandanas, you soak the bandana and wring out the extra moisture.
Never leave your dog in the car
Never. Ever. Think you’ll leave the AC running while you run in for that quick errand? If your engine fails, your dog will die. Please, just leave your dog at home.
Carry water on your walks and make sure your dog always has a big supply of fresh, cool water at home, too.
Provide one ounce of water for every pound your dog weighs.
If you’re concerned that your dog isn’t drinking enough, make that water more tempting by adding ice cubes, bits of chicken breast, or a frozen treat.
Often used for wet or raw food, freezable dog bowls are another good way to keep your dog’s water cool throughout the day. You’ll pop the bowl in the freezer before use.
Enjoy frozen treats
It’s quick and easy to make frozen dog treats (you’ll find both sweet and savory ones in our Recipe index).
And if you heard that urban myth going around a few years ago and are worried about giving your dog ice, don’t miss our post on “Is It Safe For Your Dog to Eat Ice?” with information from a veterinarian.
Go for a swim
Barli and Tiki’s favorite way to stay cool is definitely with a swim. This year we’ve been very lucky to have water in the creek (although water levels are dropping by the day).
Get a Kiddie Pool
Inexpensive children’s pools are usually on sale late in the summer; these make a great dog swimming pool!
Summer is a great time for fun with your dog but heatstroke is a real risk to you both. Plan your day, take it slowly, and make sure the memories you create this season are good ones!