Turn on the Waterworks. Take a swim - it’s what many of us humans do, mostly because it feels good and we know that submersing ourselves in some cool water will bring our body temperature down. Add in our love for hanging by the pool or lake with some cold drinks and there aren’t many better ways to spend a hot summer day. Many dogs love water too (just check out this Corgi pool party!), while others just don’t know how refreshing water can be.
If your dog isn’t a fan of wading into bodies of water, try setting up a sprinkler or hose in your yard. Don’t shoot your dog directly with the steady stream of water (especially if this is a new activity for her), but rather let it spray into the air and let her choose to run underneath it. Have you ever enjoyed the mist that is fanned out at Disney or theme parks during super hot days – it’s refreshing without soaking you, unless you want it to!
Just remember – when water gets deep into a dog’s ear canal, especially if your dog is a floppy-eared breed, it can fester and cause ear infections under humid conditions. So after any kind of water activity, be sure to gently wipe out your dog’s ears with a soft gauze or tissue to sop up any moisture that a good hearty head-shake may still leave behind.
If your dog is strongly against going into water of any kind, you can still help keep her cool by wetting a washcloth and gently rubbing her down. Pay special attention to areas such as her face, underarms and belly – here, her hair is thin and her skin is more exposed, which will support the cooling process.
Keep Outside Sessions Short. While your dog may still have some energy to burn, she likely won’t have as much during hot days where her body has to work harder just to stay cool. Rather than a long hike or day out on the town, it’s best to keep outings with your pup short and sweet, maybe 15-45 minutes at a time, on hot summer days.
The particular length of time will depend on the temperature, activity, age and breed of your dog. Young pups and senior dogs can tolerate less extreme temperature changes than middle-aged dogs. And some breeds, such as bully breeds and those with thick undercoats, get overheated more easily than others and desire to be less active in the heat. Whether your outdoors activity is in the shade or the sun also makes a big difference – especially to dark-colored dogs, whose coats absorb more of the heat than dogs with lighter-colored coats.
Offer Your Dog an Icy Treat. One of my favorite things on a hot day? Ice cream! Having something cold to lick can help your pup cool down and he’ll be happy to get rewarded for doing nothing other than laying there! While you can buy Frosty Paws brand and other frozen treats from the supermarket, I prefer to make my own out of all whole-food ingredients – they’re healthier, contain less sugar, and then I can eat them too! You can mix up a recipe and freeze them - either in the paper Italian ice cups (which you would remove before giving to your dog) or just an ice cube/classic popsicle tray, convenient and easy to use.
Hang Out With Cool Friends. By “friends” I mean having a cooling buddy system in place for your dog. There are many items out there designed to assist the cooling process, such as bandannas, vests, and even blanket pads that you can refrigerate or freeze. If your dog has one of these items to hang out with, he’s more likely to keep his body temperature from going through the roof. For a smaller dog, try the Cool Pup Striped Dog Cooling Mat 16 inch, which you can pick up from the store at the Highland Pet Resort. Or for something you don’t have to refrigerate, try Ruffwear’s Swamp Cooler Dog Vest if your dog is down with wearing things. This items wicks away heat naturally, all you have to do is wet it and wring it out, and the Ruffwear brand is known for holding up pretty well (I have a Ruffwear treat pouch that has gotten a LOT of use over the past 8-9 years and it still works great!).
Stay Hydrated. Don’t forget how important hydration is to your pup’s health – it will not only help prevent overheating but it’s also important for the rest of your dog’s bodily functions to work properly! Always provide fresh, cool water and offer to your dog frequently throughout the day. Small servings are better than letting your dog “tank up” and drink a lot at once, as this can lead to tummy upset and vomiting. Steer clear of letting your dog drink saltwater for the same reason.
Now just find some cool tunes for you and your dog to chill to on these summer nights and you’re good to go!
Maria Huntoon, CBCC-KA