The hot summer months can be a challenge for us humans and our four-legged friends alike. While we both need to regulate our body temperature, we go about it quite differently.
Limited Ability To Cool Off During Summertime
Have you ever wondered how a dog’s internal cooling system works and why they seem to have a much harder time dealing with the heat than we do?
Unlike us humans, dogs only have a very small amount of sweat glands as they are only located on areas of the body not covered in fur (mostly in their paw pads).
Dogs actually cool themselves off by panting, which unfortunately isn’t a very effective mechanism, especially in the burning heat of the summer.
Water As A Cooling Element
Water may be one of the first elements (literally!) which comes to mind when thinking about a way to cool our dogs off on a hot day. In order to offer relief from the heat, a dog’s paws and belly should be submerged in water.
A pool we can jump in along with our pup is no doubt the ideal scenario for refreshment for both species! If no “real” pool is available, a kid’s pool will do the trick as well.
The hard plastic ones are a better choice than the inflatable ones, as the latter may get damaged by your dogs’ nails ~ no matter how well trimmed they are 🙂
If an inflatable one is all that’s available, it can be made more durable by lining it with a tarp.
I invite you to read my article about swimming safety for dogs here:
Early or Late Walks
Exercise is an important aspect in a healthy dog; however, it can be a challenge to provide the proper work-out time for your pooch in the summer heat.
The only somewhat bearable times of the day when an extended walk is possible is in the wee morning hours, around dawn, and again late at night, around 9 pm, or even later.
Keeping these times in mind will ensure your dog still burns his energy on a daily basis.
Plenty of Fresh Drinking Water
Always provide plenty of fresh drinking water. A lot of people offer their pups’ ice-cold water, filled to the brim with ice cubes.
However, room-temperature water will actually cool a dog (and his human!) off more efficiently. This has to do with the fact that less energy is required to warm the ice water up to the core body temperature.
Shelter From The Heat
Did you know that our K9 companions can also get sunburned? Especially dogs with a light(er) coat color are at risk.
In order to protect our pups from the harsh UV rays, their exposure to the sun needs to be limited. The best shelter is no doubt the interior of a well ventilated house.
I try to avoid the peak time of the daily heat, which is from about 11 am to 4 pm. Obviously, I still offer potty breaks during this time frame, but that’s about it.
Any playtime or exercising which falls into the afore mentioned time span takes place inside.
Missy & Buzz actually spend most of the late morning to early afternoon hours snoozing anyways (I can check in on them via security cameras installed in the living room and kitchen area, so now I know that they actually spend most of their alone time napping).
I take them for an early morning walk, and then have them romp around in our backyard, where they will chase birds and each other.
Buzz loves to play fetch, so I’ll also throw his ball for a while, until they both quiet down on their own. Gotta love regular exercise 😉
Well Ventilated Dog House
I personally am not an advocate of outside dogs. Any dog who is permanently confined to the exterior of a house, especially when left unsupervised, can get into a lot of trouble.
The potential of heatstroke is just one of many dangers! If you MUST leave your dog outside, be sure to provide a well ventilated dog house in the shade, with access to unlimited, fresh water.
However, please consider that wildlife such as coyotes, skunks, deer, poisonous snakes and insects will pass your dog’s path sooner or later, and the outcome of it may be deadly.
A backyard dog will also be extremely prone to developing behavioral issues due to boredom and lack of mental and physical engagement.
Those can range from barking frenzies, jumping fences, running in circles, licking and chewing on their own skin/paws, all the way to real aggression!
Cooling Accessories For Your Dog
ACs, Fans, and Curtains
There are a few options available to keep our dogs at a comfortable temperature. We can either run the AC, use fans, and open all the windows inside the house during the cooler morning and evening hours for a nice cross-breeze.
You can also put up thermal-lined curtains to help keep the heat out, which is something I do. Not only do they do their job, they also decrease the power bill, and are visually appealing!
Never Leave A Dog Alone In A Parked Car In The Warmer Months
This is really, really important: never EVER leave your dog alone in a car in warm weather, even if it is only for a few minutes. Even if you’ve cracked the car windows.
Within 10 minutes, the temperature inside your car will go up by about 10 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s with the windows cracked AND a breeze outside.
Veterinarian Dr. Ernie Ward created a wonderful, informational video about this topic which is available on YouTube, and which I highly recommend watching!
It can definitely be a challenge keeping our pups cool during the hot summer months, but I found that exercise super early in the day or late at night paired with the air-conditioned interior of a home and pool time during the day is a winner in our pack.
How do you keep your pooch fit & exercised in the summer months without compromising her health? As always, we’d love to hear from you in our comment section!