Summer is just around the corner, at least here in the northern hemisphere. It’s getting warmer outside as we make our way into the height of spring. In hot weather, it’s very important to make sure your dog stays cool enough. While dogs, like humans, can tolerate a range of temperatures, they can also get heat exhaustion or heatstroke, just like we can.
At the same time, though, you want to make sure your dog is getting the exercise it needs to stay content and in good shape. This can vary according to breed, of course. Some breeds need quite a bit of physical activity to avoid boredom, while others are a bit more sedentary.
These tips can help you keep your dog happy and healthy during the summer, despite the sweltering temperatures outside.
1. Get Your Dog Some Outdoor Exercise Either Early In The Morning, Or Late In The Evening
At the height of the day, summer temperatures can be absolutely brutal. Neither you nor your dog want to go outside when it’s 95 degrees out there. It’s uncomfortable for both of you, and could easily lead to dehydration or heat exhaustion.
To keep your walks comfortable, try taking your dog out at sunrise, or just after sunset. At these times of day, it’s quite a bit cooler than it is when the sun is out. You can also dial back the exercise intensity a bit on hot summer evenings.
2. Keep An Eye On Your Dog, And Look For Signs Of Dehydration
As we’ve mentioned, dehydration is a risk in the summer heat. Dogs cool themselves by panting, and they don’t have sweat glands the way that humans do.
Check your dog for these common signs of dehydration:
● Excessive drooling and panting
● Bloodshot eyes
3. Keep Your Dog Hydrated
When you take your dog out for a walk, take a bottle of water with you. You can also outfit your dog with a vest or backpack they can use to carry it. This works well for working dog breeds that need to feel a sense of purpose.
4. Use Dog Boots
You can find dog boots at pet supply stores, or you can order them online. They can help protect the sensitive pads on the underside of your dog’s feet from discomfort on hot pavement.
5. If You Don’t Have Central Air-Conditioning, Find Creative Ways To Make Sure Your Dog Stays Cool And Comfortable
If you live in the southern United States, not having central A/C is downright unthinkable. But in many northern regions where it only gets uncomfortably hot for a couple of weeks each year, it’s pretty common not to have central air-conditioning.
Without A/C, you may need to get creative to keep your dog cool on especially hot days. You can spray your dog down with water, including their sensitive paws and stomach, or lay out a wet towel for them to lay on. You can also set up a small kiddie pool in the shade outside, especially for dog breeds like Labrador Retrievers that love water.
6. If Your Dog Seems Confused That They’re Not Being Taken Outside, Let Them Step Out For A Moment And Feel The Temperature
If you usually take your dog for a walk or let them outside at a certain time of day, they may get confused or upset if you don’t. Let them feel the outdoor air for themselves, and they’ll recognize that it’s too hot.
7. Allow Your Dog To Dig
Many dog breeds like to dig in the ground. In some cases, they’ll try to dig a little den to keep themselves cool. If you can find a shady area where it’s okay to dig, let your dog do so.
8. Take Your Dog Swimming
If you live near a coastline or lake, hot summer days are a great time to take your dog out for a swim. Some breeds aren’t very fond of water, but others absolutely love it. It’s an activity you can do together, and it’s a great alternative to going for a walk when it’s brutally hot outside.
9. Never, Ever Leave Your Dog Alone In A Parked Car
Even if you roll the window down, cars get incredibly hot inside. It’s like an oven in there, and your dog will dehydrate much faster inside the car than they will outside. They can also get claustrophobic from being cooped up, or get anxious from being alone. If your dog gets hyped up from frustration, fear, or excitement, they’re even more likely to dehydrate or suffer from heat exhaustion. It’s usually better to just leave them at home where it’s nice and cool.
If you’re going on a long car trip with your dog in tow, keep the A/C on whenever possible, and make sure you bring plenty of water for them.
10. Be Mindful Of Any Breed-Specific Problems Or Health Issues That Could Make Your Dog More Likely To Getting Overheated Or Dehydrated
Some dogs have particular problems panting and breathing. Dogs that are brachycephalic — that is, dogs with flat faces like pugs and Boston terriers — cannot pant as effectively as breeds with longer snouts. This makes them far more susceptible to heat stroke in hot weather.
Some health issues that aren’t breed-specific can also make your dog more likely to overheat. If your dog is overweight, elderly, or suffers from cardiac or respiratory problems, they’re more sensitive to high temperatures.
11. Keep Insect Pests Off Your Dog
Heat exhaustion isn’t the only risk for your dog in the summer. Like humans, they can get bitten by various insects, many of which spread diseases. Mosquitoes can carry heartworm, and ticks spread Lyme disease. Use spot treatments and preventive medications to ward off pests and keep your dog safe and healthy.
Stay Safe for Summer Fun
Summer heat can be dangerous for your dog, so it’s important to make sure they stay cool and hydrated. That way, you can have plenty of outdoor fun with swimming and other activities, without putting your dog’s health at risk.