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How to Keep Your Dog Cool In Summer

When the temperatures rise, you may be able to  stay cool by sweating or drinking a nice glass of iced tea, but your dog isn't so lucky. Not only should your dog not drink tea — or any caffeinated beverage, for that matter — they also really don't have the ability to sweat very well. Dogs mostly cool themselves off by panting.

So, how can you help keep your pup comfortable and safe when the mercury starts to rise? Fret not, this article contains some tips, tricks, and cool (pun intended) product suggestions that can help.

Stay indoors. Obviously if you’ve got air-conditioning in your home and your dogs are able to hunker down and watch Netflix with you during any heat spells, that’s typically the best option. But not everyone has A/C and not every dog is able to spend all their time lazing indoors, so here are some not-so-obvious things you can do when your dog needs to spend time outside — on walks, hikes, or even in the yard — during those hotter days.
    Watch when you go out. Do all you can to avoid the "heat of the day." Now this period may be different in different parts of the country, but generally speaking, it's often the early and mid-afternoon. So do your walks, jogs, hikes, and any other outdoor exercise with your dog in the early morning and late evening, when the sun isn't as likely to be as strong and the temps are more likely to be cooler. This could mean waking up a bit earlier or adjusting the order you do your morning/evening routine in to make these safer and more comfortable outdoor excursions happen, but either will be far less inconvenient that an emergency trip to the Animal ER with your dog suffering from heat stroke.
      Provide a cool spot to lie down. Most dogs look for cool places to lie down when they're hot, like a tiled bathroom or kitchen floor, or the lawn outside. But if you want to provide an extra cool spot, the Self-Cooling Pet Pad is a great option, not just because it can be used both indoors and out, but also because it doesn't require electricity and it also doesn't need to be wet down or refrigerated to work either. Preventive Vet team members, Marshall and Mazel, LOVE theirs!


        Provide plenty of fresh drinking water. Provide several large bowls or buckets of drinking water for your dogs, making sure to check and refill them (at least) daily. Be sure to place them where your dog can easily reach them and try to put them in areas with reliable shade. Besides, dogs can dehydrate very quickly, especially outdoors in summer. so make sure yours has plenty of fresh, clean water available at all times when outside with your dog.

          You can also encourage your dog to stay hydrated by making them an interactive and icy treat to play with. You can buy something like the Doggie Cone system, or you can just put your dog's favorite toys and treats in a metal dog bowl, fill it with water (and you can add a little bit of low-sodium chicken broth – no onions or garlic! – for additional incentive), then freeze and serve. These can be a huge hit — so you might want to have several of these freezing at any one time, so you've got plenty ready to go for a string of warm days! 

          Note: And don’t worry about giving your dog ice water — it doesn’t cause bloat (as a popular, but incorrect, internet story has claimed). 

          Help your dog sweat. Unlike us, dogs don’t sweat across their skin when they get hot. So while we humans take advantage of “evaporative cooling” (when our sweat evaporates it cools us down), dogs can’t. Dogs predominantly cool themselves through their respiratory system — this is why dogs pant when they're hot.

          cooling jacket can help to keep dogs cooler in warmer weather by sort of mimicking sweating across the dog's body. As the water from the coat evaporates, it helps to move heat from the dog’s body to the environment. They’re not fail-proof or a replacement for careful and cautious exercise of dogs on warm/hot days, but can be a nice aid when walking or hiking with dogs on warmer days (just be sure to “recharge” the coat regularly by dousing it with water, as per their instructions).

            Add water to their play. If your dog loves to play in water, a "dog pool" like this sturdy, easy-to-set-up and drain, foldable pool can be a great way to help keep them not just safe and cool in the heat, but also quite happy, too. 

              Note that  the pool comes in a variety of different sizes, be sure you get the one that's the right size for your dog. And, speaking of sizes, I just wouldn't be the Preventive Vet if I didn't caution you to not leave your dog unattended in the pool and to not fill it up too high, especially if your dog is a puppy, senior dog, or just not all that steady on their paws or "sure of themselves" in the water.

              Work on their weight. Overweight dogs have a harder time keeping cool in the warm weather and are at greater risk of overheating. Help your dog by working to get them to and keep them at a more ideal body condition. Note that some dogs have an underlying medical condition that can make weight loss difficult, and all dog weight loss should proceed slowly (around 1-2% of their body weight per week). 

              Don't shave your dog's coat! It might be funny to see a "lion cut" on a fluffy dog but, from the standpoint of trying to keep them cool in the heat, it's actually often not a good idea. Your dog's coat doesn't just help to insulate and keep them warm in the winter, but it can actually help to keep them cooler in the summer and helps prevent sunburn. What you can do is brush them regularly to help get out any undercoat that they’re “blowing” from the winter/cooler months (which was there to help keep them warm). Using brushes like these will help thin out their coat but not eliminate it like shaving would.

                Extra Tips When It's Hot (and Sunny) Outside

                Consider some "walk and beach wear." Because asphalt, dirt, and sand can get very hot after the sun's been beating down on it all day, you might want to consider boots to protect your pup while out walking, hiking, or playing at the beach. If you put the back of your hand against the hot surface for 5 to 7 seconds, and it's too hot for you, then it's too hot for your dog's paws. These booties are water resistant and have an anti-slip sole. They can also be used in the winter months.

                  Refrain from exercising on hot days. Even just a walk on a hot day can put your dog at risk of heat stroke. Overweight dogs, certain breeds like Brachycephalic dogs, and dogs with certain medical conditions, like laryngeal paralysis or collapsing trachea, are at even greater risk.

                    These are a few ideas to get you started. Feel free to let your imagination run cool ... I mean, wild! Got some ideas of your own? Please share them with us in the comments section below.

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