We tend to spend a lot of time outdoors during the summer - particularly in Canada, when warm weather doesn't seem to last long before winter sets in again! But hot days can be taxing on our dogs. Here are five easy ways to help them keep cool this summer.
1. Provide lots of fresh, cool water.
Sounds obvious, right? Try these tips:
- Freeze containers of water. Then when you put them outside, they'll stay cold for longer so that you dog can have a long, cool drink. Keep water bowls in the shade.
- Offer a wading pool. An inexpensive kiddie pool works great. Fill with water for a place your dog can splash and play, or just flop down and cool off. Put a couple of floating toys in the pool for fun.
Before filling the pool, check the temperature of the water coming out of the hose - sometimes the water can be hot if the hose has been sitting outside in the sun.
- Put on the sprinkler. Many dogs love to snap and play with the water coming out of the sprinkler. It's a fun way for them to get some exercise while the water helps to keep them cool.
- Offer ice cubes. Pop out a few ice cubes for something cool for your dog to lick and play with. This isn't a substitute for a drink, though, so make sure that a bowl of fresh, cool water is always available too.
For even more fun, you can add some ice into the kiddie pool! (Note: this is not appropriate if your dog has heatstroke - call your vet immediately)
- Take your dog for an outing to the lake or beach. Just remember that dogs may want to play and play, even in the hot sun, and they can overexert themselves or get heatstroke even if playing in the water. Not all dogs are natural swimmers; use a life jacket for dogs who need a little extra help or confidence in the water.
- Offer a nice cool place to dig. Pet-friendly yard spaces can include a 'sandbox' type of area where dogs are welcome to dig. Dogs often dig a hole to sit in where they can keep cool. You can even spray the sand with cold water to give them something cool and fun to dig in. If this 'digging area' is located in the sun, check it first to be sure it's not too hot for your dog.
2. Shade, shade, shade.
Big, beautiful shade trees are great for helping dogs stay cool in the summer heat. They provide protection from the hot sun but allow lots of air flow (dog houses, on the other hand, can get very hot and stuffy - sometimes worse than just allowing your dog to sit outside in the sun).
If you don't have shade trees, you can create shade by putting up an umbrella or by stringing up a tarp.
3. Offer frozen treats.
A tasty frozer summertime treat is both fun and helps to keep your dog cool. There are many easy recipes for frozen homemade dog treats - they're a snap to make, and dogs love them. Just remember to take the extra calories of the treats into account when preparing your dog's meals.
4. Go for a walk early in the mornings or late in the evenings.
Early morning walks and late evening walks are usually when it's coolest. Okay, so maybe getting up early isn't that appealing to some of us -- but you may be surprised! The beautiful morning light, cooler temperatures, and the quiet are a lovely time to enjoy some one-on-one time with your dog.
Make sure you test the temperature of the ground on hot days. Asphalt and sand in particular can get very hot, and our dogs' paws can feel the heat just as much as we can on our bare feet.
If you find you can't quite make the early mornings or late evening walks, try to walk in shady areas or near water (dog-friendly beaches are a great option). Monitor your dog to make sure he doesn't overexert himself. Remember that factors like sun and humidity can make the day feel much hotter than the temperature might suggest.
Watch your dog for signs of heatstroke that can include: heavy panting, thick / tacky drool, a glassy-eyed look, dark-red tongue or gums, disorientation, weakness, unresponsiveness, or even collapse. Call your vet immediately for advice if you suspect heatstroke and be prepared to bring your dog in to see the vet.
Make sure you carry water as well as a portable water bowl. If your dog looks fatigued or keeps trying to lie down in the shade, it's past time to go home. Give him a cool drink in the shade and let him rest, before heading back home. You might even need to carry him!
5. Use cooling aids.
Sometimes a little extra help is needed to cool our dogs down on hot days. Try a dog cooling mat or a cooling vest. Many of these work by soaking them in cool water, and they stay cool for a long time before needing to be refreshed. Don't have access to one of these? Soak a towel in cool water and let your dog lie on it (check it every so often, and replace if it gets too hot).
You can also spray your dog's belly and paws with cool water. Dogs will cool down more quickly through their belly and paws, then if you spray water on their backs.
Do you have a fan? Place a pan of ice water in front of the fan to make it even more effective.
Summers are a wonderful time to be outdoors with our canine friends. Stay cool and play safe!
"Wherever we are, it is our friends that make our world." (Henry Drummond)