Being a pet parent means taking care of someone that can’t always vocalize exactly what their needs are. That means that you need to be mindful of your dog’s limitations. Puppers get hot just like people, and during the summer time there’s a serious possibility of your dog overheating. Here’s some handy tips and ways to keep pets cool and in good health during the summer and year round!
Make sure you have plenty of cold water available
Pictured: Ruffwear’s super neat doggy hydration pack so your dog can carry his own water on the trail!
Step one of course is making sure that your pup has plenty of water available. If your dog stays outside during the summer, make sure that their water bowl is in the shade somewhere and that your bowl is large enough to accommodate them. A big dog can drink a lot, and it might even be a good idea to have more than one bowl if they’re going to be outside for a while just in case.
If you’re taking your dog with you somewhere, then you’ll need to bring enough water to accommodate them as well. If you plan to have your dog outside for a prolonged period of time (whether at home or at another location), then you may want to consider picking up a cooled dog bowl for them. These work similarly to those freezer mugs for people, and they keep your dog’s water chilled for up to 8 hours. How cool!
If you frequently take your dogs on a hike, a run or a bike ride where storage space is limited, then you could also consider a collapsible bowl to save space in your pack. Or let your dog carry his own water with one of the super cool dog hydration packs shown in the photo above!
Take breaks in the shade often
Your dog is likely very excited about your activity for the day, and it may not be immediately obvious that they need a break. This is especially true for smaller dogs who have short legs, as it may be more difficult for them to keep up with you. If you’re out and about, make sure to take frequent breaks in a shady spot so your dog can let their body temperature cool down.
If you’re worried about your pup overheating on lengthy adventures, then you can also invest in a cooling shirt or bandana for them, which could be particularly useful for smaller pups who may enjoy their hikes but are having a hard time in the heat department.
Pictured: Ruffwear’s doggy swamp vests use evaporative cooling to lower your dog’s body temperature.
While I can’t say how much the dogs like them, I do have a similar item for myself, and I was surprised how much of a difference just the few degrees of cooling made. Now I never go to an outdoor event or camping trip without it. These items are also quickly refreshed when you pass a drinking fountain, or with a little water from your stash, allowing you to keep yourself cool all day. This makes them far more useful than an item that needs to be frozen, as you likely will have no opportunity to do so throughout the day, leaving your dog relieved for only a few sweet hours.
These coolers would be especially useful for snub-nose breeds like pugs or Bulldogs which are often sensitive to heat thanks to the way their nasal passages are shaped. If you’d prefer a bandana style cooler, or if your dog is too small for the products offered by Ruffwear, then Go Fresh makes an alternative that may work for you in either bandana or vest style.
Feed your dog more wet food in the summer
While dry foods are convenient for humans, they honestly are not the best solution for animals. You actually get a large portion of your liquids into your body through eating, but most pets do not have that liberty. They are accustom to eating dry kibbles, and that may cause them to be dehydrated if they are not big on drinking water.
You may want to start feeding your dog some high quality wet food varieties to help counter act this. Especially in the hotter months when they will already be low on fluids. You can check out our pet food review sections to get some ideas for some high quality pet foods you can try for your dog. Making the switch to all wet food for a large breed dog can be a bigger expense, but you do always have the option of mixing it with a dry food to make it go a little farther.
Get a cooling mat or wading pool for your dog
Does your pooch spend a lot of time outside at home or do you live in the south where air conditioners are struggling in July? Then you may want to consider getting them one of these options. Both of them have their pros and cons, and obviously you’ll need to consider the needs of your specific dog before making a purchase. Here’s some things to consider to help you out.
This is a great option for younger dogs, and it can perform double duty for pet owners. Not only will your dog be able to cool himself off more effectively, but he’ll also have a blast doing it. Many high energy large breed pups love playing in water, and if you toss a few toys in there they will go wild. it’s great exercise for them, and a well exercised dog causes less trouble for his people since he’s not bored. The bad news is that they are going to get everything around the pool wet, and you’ll need a spot that’s out of the way for it but still in the shade. Petsfit makes one that doesn’t even need to be inflated. Just unfold it and fill it up, so you can even take this neat little pool on the go.
This is a better option for older dogs or if you need a cooling option for a kennel or pen. The Green Pet Shop makes a nifty pad that can keep your dog cool for up to 4 hours, and it will even automatically “recharge” itself after they get up. It folds up and is easily portable, needs no electricity or outside cooling sources, and it’s a great choice at home or on the go.
As a bonus, if your dog is getting on in his years, then a cooling mat could actually help him out in other ways too. Many older dogs suffer from pain associated with arthritis, hip or joint issues. Laying on a nice cool mat could give them a little relief for these ailments.
Have a doggy icecream break!
Possibly the most adorable option on the list. There are tons of dog friendly ice cream options available both online and at your local supermarket. That makes it easy to give your pooch a sweet treat when it’s hot outside. If your local supermarket is noticeably lacking in doggy sweets, then don’t worry, because there are some interesting online options too.
PuppyScoops makes doggy Icecream in pup friendly flavors like Maple Bacon, peanut butter and pumpkin! The ingredients are also pretty healthy. You get mailed a dry mix in the tub, and all you need to do is add water to it and stick it in your freezer. Then you can serve up these tasty treats to your dog. These treats include lactose free milk, evaporated cane juice, gelatin, salt and then a natural flavoring which matches the one on the label for whichever variety you choose to get.
Other dangers you may not have thought about
Keeping cool isn’t the only thing you should be aware of when your dog is spending a lot of time outside. There’s other dangers here as well for you to be cautious of.
Dogs can get sunburned!
Did you know that dogs can get sunburned? They can even get skin cancer! The most common area for this to occur is on their noses which is often exposed to the sun. However, it could also happen in areas where there is little to no fur coverage. If you see a pink area, then it is likely they will be able to burn there. You might consider getting some sunscreen for your dog to protect them.
Don’t burn the bean toes!
Pavement is hot! Your dog doesn’t have shoes to protect him like you do. Be mindful of walking across hot surfaces, and you may even want to get him some booties if you’ll be walking him across asphalt a lot. It’s possible that your dog could receive serious burns from this that could lead to severe pain, but possibly also infections. While some dogs may give visual cues that they are uncomfortable, in many cases your dog will follow you loyally, even if it’s hurting him. If your walk consists of only a short trip across the parking lot to get to the cooler grass, consider carrying your dog this short way.
If your dog has already had his toe pads burned, then you can use a product like Natural Dog Company’s paw soother to help ease his pain and heal up the wounds.
While using dog shoes is the best way to protect your pooch, a lot of dogs absolutely hate having anything on their feet unfortunately. If this is the case for your dog, then you can still protect his feet by using a wax coating. It’s a lot messier than using the booties, but it will protect them. Just rub it on their toes before your walk to add a protective layer to their feet that will help fight off any burns. Natural Dog Company also makes Pawtector for burn preventative care.
Just how hot is that sidewalk anyway?
Asphalt is particularly great at absorbing heat. In the middle of the day, the black top will be at a roasting temperature that can quickly injure your dog. If it’s in the afternoon and the weather is pushing 90, then stop to think how much hotter the ground is going to be for your doggy.
In closing, to make sure your dog stays healthy and happy when exploring the outdoors be sure to keep him hydrated, protect his skin and paws and be mindful of his limitations when it comes to both heat and exercise.