Sometimes we see our pets as wild animals. They can watch out for themselves and know what they should and should not be doing for their physical health. And for the most part, dogs do have great instincts! But some dogs overeat, some push themselves too far, and some let themselves get too hot.
As a pet owner or a pet groomer, it’s your responsibility to assess the dog’s physical health to make sure your fluffy friends aren’t at risk. Overheating is a big issue in the summertime. But you can ensure your pet can still exercise and enjoy the outdoors without getting heat stroke or other serious health problems.
Check out these 6 ways to keep your pet cool all summer long!
1. Schedule your activities
As you know, certain times of the day are much hotter and sunnier. Avoid going on walks or doing other activities with your dog during the middle of the day. Early in the morning and late at night are the best times to exercise your pooch. Without the strong intensity of the sun and higher temperatures, you’ll decrease the chances of your dog overheating or getting a sunburn from strong UV rays!
Although you might find the mid-summer day wonderful, dogs shouldn’t be in the direct summer sunlight for too long. Especially if they’re exerting themselves or have thick coats. This leads to our next point…
2. Find shady outdoor spots
If you do choose to go outside when it’s sunnier, pick a location with lots of shade. If your pet has an option of a cool shady spot to lie in, they’ll have an easier time regulating their body temperature.
Another great thing to do is have a kiddy pool or a wet towel for your pet to lie on. Water is a great way for pets too cool off and have fun! They can splash around and enjoy themselves or just have a place to go to when they’ve had too much of the heat. Make sure you place your towel or shallow pool in the shade. And on extremely hot days, throw in some ice cubes! Just not too many—you don’t want to shock your dog’s system from extreme heat to extreme cold.
3. Pay attention to where you’re walking
People wear shoes but most dogs don’t. Different surfaces can get really hot in the summer including sidewalks, asphalt, and even sand! You might have noticed that your dog spends a lot more time on the grass in the hotter months. That is no accident. Their poor pads need a break from the hot stone sidewalks.
If it’s been a particularly hot day, asphalt can remain quite hot even after the sun has gone down. Paw pads play an integral role in a dog’s internal cooling system. When spending too much time walking on hot surfaces, it can cause your pet’s system to overheat and fast! Invest in or recommend booties for dogs you groom. But we can’t promise they will ever get comfortable in them (there are some hilarious videos on the internet to prove it)!
4. Water, water, and more water!
We’ve already mentioned using water as a tool to cool down your dog externally, but don’t forget internally! Always have clean water out and available for your pet whenever you’re outside in the summer. It’s extremely important to manage overheating and prevent dehydration.
Because dogs pant to cool off, they can lose a lot of water through their saliva on top of regular dehydration from being outside in the heat. Never force your dog to drink water, but make sure that they know water is available when they need it. Again on very hot days, throw in a couple of ice cubes to really help your pet manage the heat!
5. Frozen Treats
If you want a fun DIY project to keep your dog cool and happy, try making some frozen treats! Dogs can lick and chew on these chilly snacks. They’ll love how they taste and enjoy how refreshing it is after playing at the dog park!
Pro tip: Dogs have different flavor preferences, so test out a few treats to avoid being stuck with a freezer full of unwanted goodies.
6. Breeds and health conditions matter
Breeds with flatter faces like pugs have a hard time regulating temperature with their breathing. They have even more potential health risks from overheating. And once they do get too hot, it’ll take a long time to bring their temperature back down again. If they look like they’re starting to have a hard time breathing or they’re panting very intensely, bring them to an air-conditioned space.
Another key part of different breeds is their type of hair. Don’t go shaving it all off! Dogs have been built with the ability to regulate their temperature themselves off no matter how fluffy they might seem. And their hair actually plays a part in that cooling process. Research your dog’s breed and find out how short the hair can be without compromising their ability to cool off. If you’re a dog groomer and a customer comes in asking for a shave, make sure you know your stuff and explain to them why that is a bad idea. Rather than cutting the hair, get into a regular brushing routine to remove dead hair while keeping the healthy coat unmated.
Health conditions also affect your dog’s ability to stay cool. Overweight and elderly pets are particularly susceptible to the negative effects of overheating and can get hotter faster. This doesn’t mean you need to keep your dog locked indoors all summer. But do stay inside on particularly hot days. Better safe than sorry is the golden rule here!
Dogs are pretty good about finding shade when they need it. They might even sit directly on your air-conditioning vents! But it’s still important to help them out by being attentive to their physiological reactions to the summer weather. So go out and enjoy that sunshine with your furry friends – just be safe!
Did we miss any of your favorite cool-down techniques? Let us know in a comment!