Our dogs are important to us, and we often show our love for them by taking them with us on trips whenever we can, roughhousing with them, letting them run wild across the great outdoors, and doing whatever they want to do (with reason). These magnificent creatures do not always know their own limits though, and they truly depend upon us to cater to their needs and prevent them from overexerting themselves. If and when they do push things a little too far, we have to guide them back. So here are some of the fundamentals for taking care of your dog while you’re having fun this summer.
Below we hope to provide helpful info and suggestions for how to best take care of your furry friend while out under the hot sun this Summer:
Keeping your dog hydrated is perhaps the easiest and most important step on this list. Whether you’re out on the move or just hanging out under the summer sun, make sure to take water breaks for your dog. You can carry a separate bottle for the dog or just make sure your own is plenty big enough for the two of you, and just keep an eye out for refill points. After that, all you need is a collapsible silicone dog dish, which is relatively inexpensive and easy to pack. Throw one in your car, in your dog-toy bag, or pick up one with a carabiner to simply clip onto the leash or waste bag pod, and you’ll never even have to remember to pack one.
Finally switch or supplement your dog’s dry food with wet food. Kibbles N Bits is great for what it is, but wet food will greatly boost your pup’s H2O consumption.
Play Early or Play Late
It is a great habit to front-load your dog’s playtime in the cool of the morning before you head off to work, or late in the evening well after the heat has broken and the humidity has dropped. On weekends this will also mean you miss the bulk of interactions with other people.
Foot traffic is heavy throughout the middle of the day, and Colorado’s dog culture has residents bringing their four-legged friends everywhere they go, all of which can amount to high-intensity activity right around the hottest part of the day.
Know the Breed, Know Their Limits
Not all breeds handle the heat the same. Long and/or thick fur is a big component in how much heat a dog retains. If your dog has longer fur, consider treating them to trims throughout the hottest summer months. But be careful how much you trim, as dogs are very susceptible to sunburn.
With that said, all dogs are at risk of heatstroke under improper conditions, with purebred dogs being twice as likely to suffer a heat stroke as crossbreds, and any dogs that are older or overweight are also at an increased risk.
Short-snouted dogs, in general, tend to struggle more in the heat than other dogs. With panting being a primary mechanism for cooling them down, the reduced airflow and breathing issues that accompany short ‘snoots’ are further complicated by heat.
Since dogs love A/C as much as we do and enjoy lounging around on the cool floors of your basement, there’s no real reason you have to take them outside every day. There are plenty of ways for you to play with your dog inside to make sure they get the excitement and exercise they need in their daily lives.
Use Dog Cooling Gear
Pressure-activated cooling pads can be kept in the house, providing a cool place to lie down for hours. Cooling vests that can go wherever they do reflect heat and light while wicking moisture away from the dog. Then we have little booties that keep their feet off the hot cement we walk them on. And life vests and floaties mean they get to spend more time out in the lake or pool with you.
If you don’t have access to that kind of a body of water, consider picking up a kiddy pool, they can safely navigate the waters on their own.
Trade Playtime for Naptime
Dogs feed off human energy, the same way kids do. You have an active role in your dog’s behavior since your excitement and physical activity will inevitably influence their own hyperactivity. So if you are hanging out with your dog on a hot day, whether that looks like a trip through town, a hike in the mountains, or lounging around at home, make sure to take a rest.
Take breaks, take a nap, decrease physical goals, and manage expectations to levels that your dog can actually keep up with.
Cool Down Their Diet
Serve your dog cold water. Mix ice into its water or crushed ice into its food. If you are feeding your dog wet food, think ahead and refrigerate it.
There are also many cool dogs treat recipes online, but an easy recipe is to throw blueberries, strawberries, peanut butter, yogurt, and water into a food processor, and scoop the mixture into an ice cube tray. These work as bite-sized treats, but you want something a little more substantial, consider an ice lick! They’re easy to assemble, using bits and pieces of fruits, veggies, cheese, meats, and broths you already have in your kitchen, and preparing it in a larger bowl.
The benefit to this is it slows the process that they can consume the treat, so your dog cannot ingest too much too quickly.
There are many signs a dog might display if they are overheated or dehydrated, and every owner should learn to spot them. They include (but not excessive to): thick or sticky saliva and heavy overall flow, long periods of excessive panting or even hyperventilation, rapid pulse, dry gums, weakness, lethargy, dizziness, high body temperature, vomiting, and diarrhea.
Most of these are easy to recognize when you see them, but by following these best practices of dog care, you can hopefully avoid them altogether.