Summertime Dog Care
1) Exercise your dog early in the morning or late at night.
Since these are the cooler parts of the day, this will make the walk more comfortable for both you and your dog. I’m a believer in vigorous exercise for healthy dogs, but this is the time of year to back off on exercise intensity.
2) Use doggie boots.
You can find these at your local pet supply store. If you can’t walk your dog during the early and later hours of the day, this is a good way of protecting him. Heat rises from the ground, especially on surfaces like cement and asphalt, and dogs absorb and release heat through their feet. Just like boots prevent the dog from absorbing the cold in the winter, they also isolate heat.
3) Watch for signs of dehydration.
Dogs can’t sweat. They cool off by panting, so an overheated dog will drool excessively. It will become lethargic, its eyes will be bloodshot, and it may appear a little pale. If you lift its skin, it will take longer than usual for the skin to fall back into place.
4) Keep your dog hydrated!
Different dogs have different needs when battling the heat. Keep in mind that darker coats absorb more heat than lighter coats. Also, overweight dogs are at higher risk for dehydration. Carry a bottle of water when going on a walk with your dog. Better yet have your dog carry it for you in a backpack or a vest! The water in the bottles will keep the dog cooler and also give the dog a sense of purpose.
5) Find innovative ways to cool your dog.
Don’t have air conditioning? No problem! Find a spot in the shade and set up a kiddie pool. Lay down a wet towel for your dog to lie on. Or simply set up a fan in front of a pan of ice. At the Dog Psychology Center, we have sprinklers that spray the dogs with a gentle mist of water.
6) Dogs cool from the bottom up.
Make sure to spray the paws and stomach, not just the top of the dog, when spraying it with water. A wet towel does more good on the bottom of your dog than when laid on the top of its coat.
7) Let your dog dig!
Your dog may resort to finding his own way to avoid the heat. Dog in nature dig their dens not out of frustration but to find food, hide, give birth–or keep cool! If it’s possible, locate a shady area where it’s okay for your dog to dig.
8) Let your dog check the weather.
Dogs don’t have the Weather Channel, so they don’t know why they are being denied a long walk for the day. Allow your dog to step outside and feel for itself that it is too hot, too wet, or too cold to go on a long walk. Instinctually, the dog will understand that it has to shorten its walk, or simply come back inside where it’s safe.
9) Never leave your dog in a parked car.
The car retains more heat than an open area, even if it is in the shade. Plus, a dog may get overexcited in the car due to passersby or panic from claustrophobia, making dehydration more likely. On longer trips, make sure you have water for the dog and keep the AC running.
10) Use hot weather as an excuse to swim more often!
The best activity you can do in summertime or hot weather is swimming. Instead of walking the dog, take the dog on a swim! If you hold on and allow your dog to take you around the pool, it becomes a powerful bonding experience for the two of you, similar to the walk.