Ah Summer! –
school holidays, green grass, blue skies, and warm weather. It is a welcome change after the cold, rainy, and barren winter.
The dogs are dozing, the people are dozing, really everyone is just enjoying the season for lazy and sleepy days.
However, as the temperature rises, it goes from pleasantly warm to unpleasantly hot; then sticky, sweaty hot; then sometimes, awful, scorching hot. If it feels bad for us, imagine what it must feel like for our dogs who always have their fur-coats on!
Dogs have more trouble staying cool than humans do. Because of their thick fur, they mainly dissipate heat through their paws and underbelly. Dogs also stay cool through panting.
Here are some tips on how to keep our dog cool and comfortable in the hot summer months.
Cool Dog Tip 1
Keep our dogs well watered.
Dogs need to drink a lot more during the hot summer months. Drinking will help a dog cool down, and allow him to better dissipate heat through panting.
Panting dissipates heat through water evaporation on the respiratory tract. The more panting that occurs, the more water our dog will have to drink to replenish moisture lost due to evaporation.
Note that bacteria have a higher likelihood to breed in plastic dog water bowls. The summer heat will also encourage bacterial and other organic growth, including pond scum, or water algae. Use a stainless steel or ceramic water bowl to help limit bacterial growth.
Keep the water bowl clean and fresh by washing it at least once a day. Refill it more frequently in the summer months, and ensure that our dog always has clean water available to drink.
My dogs have a large stainless steel water bowl outside, and two smaller stainless steel bowls inside the house. Put the outside water bowl in the shade, so that our dog can rest close to it, without being out in the hot sun.
Cool Dog Tip 2
Keep our dogs well sheltered.
It is best to allow our dogs access to the house during hot days. The temperature will always be much cooler in the house, because it gets good insulation from our roof and walls. Use air-conditioning and ceiling fans as necessary, to keep things cool.
If ceiling fans are not available, consider buying some stand fans, and leave some windows open for good air circulation. Place the stand fan in a cool area of the house, with our dog’s bed, and toys. Elevated beds or cool surfaces, such as tile or marble floors, will also help keep our dog cool during the summer.
If we have an outside dog, it is important to have shaded areas in the backyard. Shade provided by trees is best, as it gives protection from the sun, but still allows free airflow.
Dog houses and walled kennels are actually inappropriate during hot days.
While they may provide shade, they also trap hot air within a small, enclosed space. This may cause heatstroke in dogs, especially in instances where a dog is locked inside the dog house or kennel.
For nighttime crating, consider using a more open, wire-frame crate, during the summer. Have a stand fan blowing in the vicinity if necessary.
Cool Dog Tip 3
Get a plastic dog wading pool.
Taking a dip in the pool is a great way to cool off during the summer – for people as well as dogs.
I have a hard-plastic wading pool for my dog. It is light weight, cheap, and not as chewable as the plastic inflatable kiddie pools.
The water hose game is also a lot of fun for hot days. First, I get a nozzle for my garden hose that shoots out a focused, jet stream of water. I make sure to control the force of the water, so that I do not hurt my dog if he gets hit by the stream. Then, I simply move the hose around and let my dog chase after the stream of water.
As with all games, make sure our dog does not get over-excited and does not jump on us, or try to attack the water hose. Do not aim the water at our dog’s face or eyes.
Not all dogs enjoy this game. Some dogs may not like chasing, or being hit by a stream of water.
Cool Dog Tip 4
Give our dog a cool dog bed, and an ice water bottle for hot nights.
During the summer, I let my Siberian Husky sleep on a cool, dog water bed, in her crate at night. The bed helps to cool her down, as well as provides some nice cushioning for her elbow. This is especially important because she is a three legged dog, and she places more weight on her front elbow while lying down.
On really hot nights, the cool bed alone is insufficient, and my Husky has a difficult time settling down. To further help her cool down, I give her an ice-water bottle. This is simply a frozen, plastic water bottle, that I put in an old sock, so that it is more comfortable for my dog to lay with.
When we freeze the water in our refrigerator, make sure to slightly unscrew the bottle cap, so that there are no large changes in pressure that could crack the bottle.
Cool Dog Tip 5
Walk our dog earlier in the morning and later in the evenings.
In the summer, it gets warmer earlier in the morning, and does not cool down until later in the evening. The good news is that it also gets light earlier, and stays lighter for longer.
I try to shift my morning walks a bit earlier, and my evening walks a bit later, so that my dog can enjoy the cooler temperature during his neighborhood walk. My Shiba Inu will refuse to leave the house when it is too hot outside.
Remember to bring along water, and give our dog rest breaks in the shade. Dogs will get tired faster when it is hot, because they expend more energy panting. Observe our dog, and adjust the length of the walk according to how hot, and tired he gets.
My three legged dog gets tired much faster during the warm weather, so I shorten her walks, and give her more stops along the way.
Things to Avoid During the Summer
1. Do not leave our dog inside the car alone.
Not even if we have the windows open, and not even for short periods of time. A car can heat up very quickly.
People at HowStuffWorks showed how the temperature within a car can climb from 75 degrees F to 110 degrees F within 15 minutes. This can be fatal to a dog, who cannot dissipate body heat as well as humans can.
Most dog heatstroke cases are from people leaving their dogs inside the car, or in enclosed crates or kennels.
2. Do not leave our dog in the backyard alone, without water and proper shade.
If we must leave our dogs home alone, then leave them inside the house, with a good supply of clean water. Alternatively, install a dog door that allows them to easily go in and out, as they choose. Leave some fresh and clean water outside as well.
3. Do not over exercise our dog.
Activity will tire a dog out more quickly during the summer months. Make sure not to over-exercise our dog.
If we exercise our dog on a treadmill, do not leave him there unattended. Treadmill sessions should always be supervised, in any kind of weather.
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