Summer can be fun, but they can also be hard to bear; and no sooner does the heat strike than we start looking for some cool relief, wherever it might come from. But hard as the summer may be for us, it’s usually harder for our beloved dogs that don’t sweat like we do and get rid of excess heat through, wait for it, panting! Not all dogs are accustomed all kinds of climate, and a dog that’s not used to excessive summer heat might find it very difficult to adjust to places known for their summers. Regardless, summer can be an uncomfortable time for almost all dogs whether or not they have built-in mechanisms to tackle heat, and the following tips can go a long way towards keeping your canine companion chilled out and relaxed in summer. With these, summers can be just as fun for them as for you!
Tips for Keeping Dogs Cool in the Summer Heat
Keep them hydrated
As with humans, it is essential to ensure that your dogs have sufficient access to water so they don’t end up dehydrated during extreme temperatures or heat waves, when panting often isn’t sufficient to keep them cool, or even at the end of a normal summer day. Always keep their water bowls filled and kept in an easily accessible area, and clean and change the water regularly. If you need to leave your pet alone for a while, ensure they have access to sufficient water and even more than two water bowls if they are in the habit of tipping them over. Ice cubes can be very helpful in keeping the water cool and providing relief to your dogs. Clean, cool water will be an enormous source of comfort for your tired dogs during oppressive summer days.
Keep them in shade
Shade and cool floors also go a long way in keeping your dogs chilled and away from chances of heatstroke. Dogs do not take well to heat and are prone to hyperthermia and heat exhaustion, which are very likely to occur if they are kept out exposed to the heat all day or in environments where they cannot cool themselves adequately. Having access to shade is essential for your dog if they happen to be outdoors or in your backyard during summer days. The space providing shade should also be well-ventilated and not cramped; for this reason, doghouses tend to not be a good idea as they tend to heat up a lot during summer. You should also keep in mind the sun’s course throughout the day and ensure that your dog can access shade at all times.
Know whether or not to trim them
Shaving your dog’s coat may not actually be the best idea during summer for all breeds, as most of their in-built cooling mechanisms lie in their coats and the layers of fur help them beat the heat. If you have long haired breeds with elaborate and beautiful coats, it may look like those coats may be oppressive during summer, but you should resist shaving them unless they have extremely thick coats and look like they are suffering under the heat. Shaving them unnecessarily however exposes them to the risk of sunburn. The American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals says that trimming long hair is fine as long as you don’t do anything more and go overboard with shaving your pets to help them keep cool. It does, however, help to remove tangles in their hair and keep their coats clean. Brushing them regularly can also help their cooling systems function more efficiently.
Let them use pools
Pools are great ways for both dogs and humans to keep cool and have fun, but not all dogs know how to swim and there are some that do require training before they can do so safely. Train your dog to use the stairs to your pool, and swim to it when in the pool, and consider installing special stairs to help them into the pool. Also make sure your pool is adequately fenced. With these, you can even join your dog in the pool and have fun while beating the heat! If your dog is not so adept at swimming, paddle pools where they can basically stand and play around in shallow water can be a great way of keeping them chilled, and can also double as doggy bowls.
Give them bubble baths
It goes without saying that baths are essential for your dogs during summer if the heat continues to rise. Bathing them in lukewarm water will keep them from overheating and leave them feeling relaxed for the rest of the day. You can also make the baths more effective and fun by turning them into bubble baths, using special pet grooming products and doggy shampoos and conditioners. Not only will these help in keeping their coats clean and well groomed, they will also help in keeping them cool. Be careful to ensure that the shampoo you use is safe for your dog and non-toxic and that the shampoo doesn’t get into sensitive areas like eyes and irritate them.
Go walking with them regularly
The heat may seem tiring, but a walk a day can actually keep both you and your dog remarkable fresh and healthy. In fact, for your dog, one can even call it essential. Of course, don’t try it if it’s too hot outside or the sun is too intense as that can end up negatively affecting your dog and giving them sunburn or heatstroke. Going for walks during sunrise or sunset, when there is most shade, is best (and the environment can be very enjoyable too!). Also make sure that your dog isn’t walking on some hot surface like concrete as that can damage their paw pads and cause pain. Going for walks in parks and walking on the grass is ideal. Of course, you should always carry plenty of water on these walks to prevent dehydration.
Give them frozen treats
Your dogs like frozen goodies as much as you do! Giving them frozen treats is a great way of keeping them fed, cool and happy. Fill up their Kongs or treat dispenser toys with frozen treats. You can buy these treats or better yet, you can make them yourself from materials your dog has every day! With a few simple tricks, your regular doggy treats can be turned into frozen ones ideal for the summer, like pet popsicles which can keep your dogs occupied and cool for a long time. Keeping them occupied with frozen treats in treat dispensers can also prevent them for being too active outside, thus reducing heat-exposure risks and keeping them inside the shade and comfort of home.
Get them cooling beds
Your dog’s regular bed, while certainly soft, comfy and cozy, might just be too warm for the summer. You might often find your pooch preferring to lie on cold floor tiles than the warm bed in summer. There is nothing wrong in letting your dog lie on your floor as long as it’s clean, but if your dog happens to be too used to the comfort and softness of its regular bed then you can provide them with it even in summer along with the coolness they require with special cooling beds, designed specifically for this. These beds are usually filled with water or special gel-like substances to keep them cool yet comfortable. These beds may be ideal for older dogs for whom hard floors may not be the best option.
Learn if they are more susceptible to heat
Certain breeds of dogs are more susceptible to heat than others, depending on a number of conditions like their body shape, nature of their coat or body makeup. For example, brachycephalic dogs, which include flat-faced breeds like bulldogs, pugs or terriers, have shortened airways due to their facial structures which makes panting and evaporation from their lungs less effective for them thus making them more susceptible to heat-related stress. These breeds may show symptoms of heat-stress even in mildly warm weather, especially if the humidity is strong. It is essential for you to identify how your breed reacts to heat and take measures accordingly, including special measures for those more susceptible to heat. If you are importing a breed, make sure that the breed can live comfortably in the climate and weather conditions of your location before doing so.
Do not leave them locked up in cars
This seems to be an increasingly (and disturbingly) frequent phenomenon, and should absolutely be avoided in all climates. In the summer, when the heat is strong, cars can heat up enormously and become ovens of sorts. Dogs being extra susceptible to heat can have a very uncomfortable and painful time if kept locked up in these furnaces, and it may even result in death. Even if the windows are rolled down and the car is parked in a shaded place it can still heat up and become very uncomfortable for your dog (and leaving the windows down in an unattended car is illegal anyway). This is why it is absolutely essential that you don’t leave your dog unattended in your car during summer. It is best not to travel with your dog in a car in the summer at all, but if you must, ensure there’s enough cool surfaces and ventilation in the car.