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10 Ways to Beat the Heat with Your Dog This Summer

Icelandic Sheepdog swimming in a pool during Dock Diving.

10 Ways to Beat the Heat with Your Dog This Summer

Summer is officially in full swing, and for many people this means enjoying a lot of outdoor adventures in the sun. These include a variety of fun water activities that both people and their dogs can enjoy during this particularly hot time of year.

It’s important, however, to be aware of the dangers that the heat can present, especially in the South and in more humid areas of the country. With how hot humans can get during the “dog days of summer,” high temperatures can have an equal and often greater impact on our four-legged friends. When temperatures rise, caution is always needed and being prepared can even save a life.

Here are 10 ways to beat the heat with your dog this summer.

1. Stay hydrated.

This is the most obvious of all recommendations. In dangerously high temperatures, making sure you and your pup have enough water on a regular basis to combat the heat is of paramount importance. When leaving home, be sure to take plenty of water bottles, collapsible water buckets, and an insulated bag for all water-related items.

2. Get wet (with caution).

The most popular summertime activities for people and their dogs typically have to do with getting wet. But it’s important to note that not all bodies of water are safe for swimming. When allowing your dog to take a dip, it’s best to opt for a kiddie pool as opposed to a natural body of water where bacteria (and dangerous animals) could be lurking. Also, if your dog is severely overheated, don’t immediately submerge it in water. Instead, opt for a more gradual cooling process using wet towels and provide a bowl of fresh water. This is best because, surprisingly enough, lowering the temperature of a dog’s skin too quickly can actually cause the internal organs to heat up further.

3. Give Dock Diving a try.

Submitted by: Jennifer Murphy

Do you have a dog who already likes the water and staying active? Well, depending on the heat index, keeping your dog busy outdoors during the summer months can be a difficult thing to do—but it’s not impossible. Many dogs can beat the heat by participating in the sport of Dock Diving. This wet and wild activity involves a dog launching itself as far (or as high) off a platform as possible into a pool. Whether enjoyed competitively or casually, this can be a fun way for both you and your dog to cool down.

4. Take breaks as needed and rest up.

In high temperatures, strenuous activity of any type is strongly advised against by professionals. Make sure you and your dog are not spending extended periods of time outdoors in intense heat and avoid any type of overexertion outdoors. And remember to take as many indoor breaks as needed, allowing your dog to get some air-conditioned relief that will lower its body temperature.

5. Try a cooling mat.

There are several summer season items made just for keeping dogs cool in the heat, including a variety of cooling mats. These reusable pads are readily available for purchase and feature pockets that are filled with water which is then frozen. Cooling mats can also have a gel core that provides a cooling mechanism, and there are even some more technologically advanced mats that are rechargeable.

6. Use dog-friendly sunscreen.

Some breeds that are partially or completely hairless are impacted by the sun more than other types of dogs, especially during the hottest parts of the day. These dogs require sunscreen in hot, sunny weather, but they’re not the only ones that do. All dogs can get sunburns and skin cancer, just like humans can, and their noses, ears, and underbellies are prone to sun damage. It’s important to provide protection for your dog all summer long, especially if it has a thin and light-colored coat.

7. Rethink your exercise schedule.

For many dog owners, a mid-day walk is simply part of the daily routine. But, depending on just how hot it is outside, it may be best to temporarily axe this activity from your pup’s schedule. Pay attention to the daily weather forecast and slowly (or completely) eliminate noontime walks until temperatures cool down again.

8. Be aware of heatstroke and the signs of it.

During the hottest months of the year, heatstroke is a very real danger to both dogs and humans. To avoid a severe incident, it’s important to know the early warning signs—in order. Excessive panting and rapid breathing are the first signs of heatstroke coming on. Other symptoms include unusual unresponsiveness to commands, lethargy, excessive drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, and bright red or blue gums. Seizures and collapse are the final indicators. Dogs that are overweight, have short noses, are older or on cardiac medications, and/or recovering from surgery or illness are most susceptible to suffering from heatstroke. In the event that your dog appears to be showing signs of heatstroke, it is imperative to provide drinking water, mist the exposed skin and paws with water (as opposed to fully submerging the dog), and seek immediate veterinary care.

9. Offer more shade.

Avoiding direct sunlight during the peak summer season is one of the most effective and preventative ways to avoid heat-related issues. Make sure there are plenty of shady spots for your dog to
have access to whenever air-conditioned comfort is unavailable or when it’s necessary to spend prolonged periods of time outdoors. If there are no naturally occurring shady spots, a collapsible tent or canopy is a good portable option.

10. Use your better judgment.

As with all things, it’s important to simply use your better judgment when it comes to all weather conditions the summer may bring. If your dog seems uncomfortable or is showing signs of wanting to spend time outdoors due to the heat, it’s best to simply not push anything. You know your dog better than anyone else, so go with your gut feeling and eliminate any potential risk factor. If it is too hot… it’s simply too hot! When it comes to summer weather, some days are simply going to be too extreme and the best place to beat the heat will always be in air-conditioned comfort.


Featured image submitted by: Michelle Ridenour