Summer is the perfect time to get outside and have fun with your dog. From hikes in nature to swimming in the lake, there are so many exciting activities to try. But all that fun in the sun also comes with its own risks.
The high temperatures and harsh sunlight in summer can lead to heatstroke, dehydration, and even sunburn for your dog if you fail to take the proper precautions. But don't worry, we've got you covered. Check out our tips below on how to keep your dog cool and safe this summer.
1. Keep Hydrated with Cool, Fresh Water
When you're outside in the heat, hydration is a top priority, and this is also true for your dog. Providing access to cool, clean water is essential, especially if your pup is playing in the hot sun.
Make sure your dog drinks an ounce of water for every pound of their body weight. For example, a 30-pound dog needs about 30 ounces of water every day.
Drinking too fast can lead to discomfort or bloat in dogs. After physical exercise or lots of time out in the sun, give your pup small amounts of water at a time and put a few ice cubes in their bowl to encourage them to drink slower.
2. Pick Your Walk and Play Times Wisely
While it's tempting to spend as much time outside as possible during the summer, high temperatures can be dangerous for your dog, especially if you're outside for long stretches of time.
On really hot days, try to limit your outside time to the coolest parts of the day – typically the mornings and evenings. You should also shorten your walks, and be cautious about walking on asphalt and hot pavement that can burn your dog's paws.
Remember, it's not only the temperature that can affect your dog, but the humidity as well. High humidity can prevent dogs from properly cooling themselves, meaning that even moderate summer temperatures can be dangerous if the humidity levels are too high.
3. Take Frequent Breaks
If you and your pup do get outside during the summer, remember to take frequent breaks during playtime or any physical activity. Give your dog time to cool down, preferably in a cool, shady area like under a nearby tree or umbrella.
Use this time to encourage your dog to drink water and check them for signs of overheating. Key signs that your dog is overheating include:
- Frantic panting
- Extreme salivation
- Labored breathing
- Disoriented behavior
4. Give Your Dog a Cooling Towel or Ice Pack to Lie On
If your dog's body temperature is quickly rising in the summer heat, lying on a cooling mat, wet towel, or even an ice pack can help lower their temperature.
Make sure that the ice pack is wrapped in a towel or blanket before you give it to your dog – never touch an ice pack directly to their skin. For added relief, you can drape a cool, wet towel over your dog.
5. Go Swimming
Swimming is the perfect way to keep your pup cool and have fun at the same time. Whether you prefer your backyard pool, a local lake, or a doggy beach, swimming is great exercise. And the cold water can help keep your dog's internal temperature from rising in the sun.
If you don't have a local pool or dog-friendly lake to swim in, a small kiddie pool in your backyard can work just as well. If your dog has never gone swimming before, don't rush them into deep water. Go slowly while your dog learns, and consider equipping them with a life jacket for added safety.
6. Make Frozen Treats
Frozen treats are a great way for your pup to cool off, and they double as an enrichment activity if it's too hot to spend time outside.
You can get as creative as you want with these treats, ranging from DIY dog 'pupsicles' and frozen stuffed Kongs to simple ice cubes. Frozen fruits and vegetables also make a perfect, healthy snack, especially for training sessions.
You can even put your dog's toys inside the freezer to help keep them cool. Tug toys, chew toys, and even stuffed toys can all be placed in the freezer to keep your dog refreshed, even during a play session.
7. Keep Your Dog at a Healthy Weight
Maintaining a healthy weight is an important part of your dog's overall health, but it can also help keep them cooler in the summer.
Carrying extra weight makes it harder for your dog to cool down and increases their risk of overheating. This is especially dangerous for brachycephalic dog breeds, like Bulldogs and Pugs, that struggle to breathe in the heat.
Talk to your vet about the ideal weight for your dog's age and breed. They can help you come up with a diet and exercise plan to keep your dog active and help them maintain a healthy weight.
8. Never Leave Your Dog in the Car Alone
Even if your windows are cracked or your car is running, you should never leave your dog alone in the car. Temperatures can rise almost 20℉ in 10 minutes, and the longer your dog sits in the car, the higher the temperature gets.
At these temperatures, your dog could suffer a heatstroke, irreversible organ damage, and even die in a matter of minutes. If you have to run errands, it's best to leave your dog at home or with a trusted dog sitter or local doggy daycare.
Are You Ready for a Fun, Safe Summer with Your Dog?
There are so many wonderful things to do with your pup when the weather warms up, from swimming to walks and trips to the dog park. As long as you keep your dog hydrated, take frequent breaks, and keep them safe from the heat and sun, you can make this summer the best one yet!
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