Whether your canine companion is the best-behaved dog or a cheeky pup, summertime often means great weather for people and pets getting outside together. Unfortunately, this carries risks like sunburn and heatstroke, which can seriously affect an animal's health – every year, pets die from dehydration and overheating. Have a read of our top tips and fun ideas on how to cool dogs down, keep our furry friends healthy and cool this summer for everyday play!
Summer brings warmer weather and longer daylight hours, making it easy to relax the day away. But even on days where you're both feeling the heat, dogs may still want to exercise! Maintaining a regular exercise routine has mental and physical benefits, but it may need to be adjusted with the season. Wherever you and your furry friend go, make sure you check the temperature of the ground. If it feels too hot to touch, it is too hot for your dog to walk on. Never walk your dog in the heat - instead, plan to walk in the early morning or late afternoon. A cooler evening stroll can also be a great time to explore your neighborhood or socialize at a dog park if it's safe for both of you.
Most dogs have a layer of fur covering their entire body - and some dogs have more than one! Grooming is an essential aspect of keeping your dog happy and healthy. Dogs' hair can form a heat trap, especially if it becomes long or matted. Keep your dog looking good and feeling cool with a style that suits their shape and hair type. You can do it yourself with some basic knowledge and suitable equipment, or hire a professional. Either way, it's an important way to keep dogs cool, happy, and healthy throughout the hotter months.
Just like us, dogs can be sunburnt. While dogs with pale skin are at the highest risk, all dogs are at risk of being burned by the sun. Fortunately, there is a lot that can be done to prevent doggy skin damage. You can search through a wide range of dog sunscreens, hats, sunglasses, and protective dog clothing to block direct sunlight from getting to your four-legged family members. Aloe vera is a great way of cooling and healing skin if your dog does get a mild sunburn. More severe burns may need to be seen by a vet since these can be more painful and carry greater risks to dogs' health.
Made In The Shade
An easy way to look after your pet is to find places in the shade during the summer heat. Shade doesn't reduce the temperature, but it does reduce the compounding effect of the hot temperatures and direct sunlight. This helps you and your companions - with two legs or four - chill out on even the hottest days, as well as reducing (but not eliminating) the risk of sunburn. Aside from shady trees and the shadows cast by buildings, portable shade is always an option. Consider portable sun shades, pop-up tents, and canopies, sun umbrellas, or even a special shaded pet bed for your pup. Don't rely on a dog house, shed, or greenhouse to keep your pooch cool - it doesn't allow air to flow through so that it won't work.
A Cool Place To Rest
Lying down on the job is probably an important part of your dog's day already. While they'll seek out the snuggliest, coziest spots (probably right next to you) in the cool months, summer could send them away. Tiled kitchens and bathrooms are often a favorite because they don't store heat the way that carpet can, and if you have an air conditioner or fan, your pet might move so that the air can blow on their back or exposed belly. Other items to help your dog beat the heat include cooling pads and raised pet beds, which allow air to flow beneath them. If you don't want to go to the expense of buying something new, see what else you've already got, which could be used instead. Perhaps you have a hot water bottle that can be filled with cold water or towels which can be wet and placed in the fridge or freezer to chill.
BYO Water Bottles
A big drink of water is one of the simplest ways to help your dog cool down. Dogs need fresh drinking water every day, but they need more than usual when the heat hits. Be sure to keep a bowl or two filled for them wherever you are. If you're heading out and aren't sure if your dog will have access to a place to drink, bring a bowl and bottle of water for them to keep them from getting too thirsty. There are all sorts of bowls available, from glass to ceramic or metal, and even plastic or collapsible silicone bowls. While it can be great to give your dog something familiar when they're away from home, if they're hot and need a drink, chances are they'll be grateful for anything!
When we get hot, we get sweaty. That's our body's way of cooling off! But our dogs are not the same. The best way that they have to release the heat is by panting. Understand that your dog will open their mouth and display their tongue. If your dog has a lot of drool, you may like to see if a neckerchief helps keep them tidy. It's essential to understand what your dog's normal panting looks like since excessive panting can be a cause for concern. Provided that your dog does not have heatstroke, a big drink of cold water can be one of the best ways to help them feel better and cool down during a hot summer. If you think that your dog has heatstroke, give them small amounts of cool (not cold) water or ice cubes to lick and contact a veterinarian for advice.
If your grass looks a little thirsty and your dog is too, a hose or sprinkler is a fun way to play with dogs in the heat of summer and keep their paws from baking on bare ground. Always test the water temperature before you allow your dog to make contact with it. The water may tickle their skin on hot days, and they might even try to catch, bite, or jump through the spray! You can select the type of sprinkler that you think will work best - from a small even spray to a spinning or waving wall of water. You could even search for a sprinkler in the children's toy section if it might get them interested. This can help keep dogs cool, use some of their energy, stimulate their minds, and provide an excellent opportunity for them to play with you.
Have you seen those cute videos of someone's dog in a paddling pool? Why not make your own? Readily available at retail stores or online, you can find one to fit your dog, no matter how big or small they are. If your paddling pool has a thin base, consider putting it on a soft surface like grass or foam mats, then fill it using your garden hose and enjoy the results. Get creative! You can add toys or ice cubes to the water for extra enjoyment. Ensure that the pool and water used to fill it is clean and safe for your dogs to play in - they will probably treat it as drinking water too!
Don't be afraid to experiment to keep your dog and yourself from getting bored during the day. Many dogs are happy to learn a new game or try something different with a familiar toy.
- Hide a favorite toy somewhere in the house and ask your dog to find it.
- Sneak dry treats around your home and encourage your dog to sniff them out. You can adjust the difficulty for your dog's level of expertise!
- Offer frozen meat, toys, or fruits which are safe for dogs to eat. If your dog hasn't seen these before, it can be a fun experience for both of you, and they may end up liking it!
- Food puzzles, also known as puzzle feeders, slow bowls, or no-bowls, are a great way of occupying your pooch for a while, with the added benefit of slowing their eating, which aids their digestion. Make sure you choose a food puzzle that suits your lifestyle, the type of food you want to use it with, and your dog's size for the greatest chance of success.
- Purchase a spray bottle and mist or squirt your way through playtime. Make sure you clean the container first and fill it with cool water, which is suitable for your dog to drink.
While dogs don't need to be "bikini ready" for the summer, it's important that you help them maintain a healthy weight. Dogs which are carrying extra kilos means that they have to do extra work to move around, putting additional stress on their bodies and loading their bodies with more heat than they would otherwise have. To keep your dog cool, fit and happy, make sure that their food intake matches their breed, size and activity level. If you're not sure what suits your dog, do some research, read the packaging of pet food that you purchase, or consult a veterinarian or canine nutritionist.
Watch For Signs Of Discomfort
If your dog suddenly stops playing, seems unfocused, or won't do as you instruct, pay attention. They may be trying to send you an important message about how they're feeling. Keep calm and give them a chance to get cool. Knowing how to cool a dog down quickly is easy if you're prepared. Once they're feeling better they may be ready to play or follow instructions again - if not, let them do what they need to do and help to keep your dog cool!
Have Fun Together
Enjoy your time with pets. Don't leave dogs alone in a hot car or outside in the sun by themselves. Prolonged exposure to direct sun or leaving them alone in an enclosed area such as a car can cause severe dehydration, overheating and death. If you have your dog around deep water such as a pool, river or the beach, know whether your dog is a strong swimmer and can surface by themselves, and always keep an eye on them, just in case!
Dogs reward us with their silly grins, their clumsy cuddles and their fabulous personalities. If you help keep them happy, healthy and safe, they'll reward you for years to come - all year' round!