Hot Dog Days of Summer
On hot summer days, nothing feels better than seizing the day and taking advantage of the sunshine and warm weather. It's the perfect time to do everything you've been waiting to do, whether it be getting active, going for a dip in the pool, or visiting your favorite outdoor locations. The best part of it all is that your pet can join you! If your pooch has been cooped up in the house and unable to visit their favorite puppy parks due to the snowy winter days or rainy spring skies, now is the time for them to break out and join in on the lineup of upcoming summer adventures.
But similar to how people can overheat, dogs are especially at risk of this. Overheating can lead to serious conditions like heat exhaustion and stroke, which is why it's important to recognize if it's too hot out for your pooch or if they're just in need of some summer essentials. Don't let this stop you from including them in your summer plans, though! Just be prepared and find ways to beat the heat!
Here's a guide on how to enjoy the Hot Dog Days of Summer, and stay safe while doing it:
- Hike - While your pup surely loves your backyard and daily walks in the neighborhood, hikes are a great way to give your pup a change of scenery. A trip to your local state park will do just fine, and it gives them the chance to be surrounded by the things in nature that they love. Leaves, trees, sticks, sunshine, and fresh air! Your dog will certainly be doing a lot of exercise on a hike so try to find a trail or path that is suited to your dog's activity level. Come prepared with lots of water to keep them hydrated and a leash to keep them close by.
- Pool - Not all dogs are fond of swimming, but those that are will have a blast if you have a pool or even a simple hose to get them wet! This is the ideal way to help them cool down, plus it's a unique form of exercise to get their arms and legs moving. You can make it even better by throwing in some doggy pool toys and floats to add in extra fun!
- Beach - Beaches are the first place people want to hit when they need a place to spend the hot summer day. The same goes for dogs! Many beaches and lakes are dog friendly or have a specific area set apart for just canines, whether it be on leash or off leash. Your pooch will love nothing more than running along the soft sand (or digging through it) and dipping their paws in the ocean water. Because beaches are such a popular spot, your furry friend should be well socialized and ready to interact with other dogs and people. It's also important that they're obedient so that once it's time to leave the waters and hit the boardwalk, sand, or car, they'll know to come running to you.
- Dog Park - Dog parks are a classic favorite for both you and your pet. They not only give you extra time to bond, but your pet will have the opportunity for hearty play and exercise with other local dogs and animal lovers. It's also a chance for you to connect with other pet parents and pick up on some tips for how to read your dog's behavior and train them.
- Local Events - Some communities stay extra involved by providing your pet with events designed just for them.
- Summer Treats - Giving dog friendly treats to your canine takes bonding to another level in the simplest of ways. Treats are a tasty way of showing your pet how much you love and appreciate them, and also rewarding them for extra good behavior or for simply being the kind, cuddly creature they are. You can choose to make these from scratch from the many homemade treat recipes that are floating around online. Keep your canine in your presence to amp up the time spent together, too! Or you can make a quick dash and purchase already frozen treats - the ultimate way to keep your pet full, hydrated, and cool. They'll definitely appreciate the fun flavors and refreshing taste.
- Toys - Take your usual toys outside to your backyard or the dog park to take advantage of that summer sun. Any toy will seem 10x more fun when your pet gets to experience playing outdoors, whether it be a classic ball, rope, disc, stuffed animal, etc. Play is always important, as it provides your pet with mental and physical stimulation.
Anytime you take your dog outdoors, especially if it's for a particularly tiring activity or on an extra hot day, take some water along. It's even better if you add ice cubes or make it as cold as possible before serving. Keeping your pup hydrated is the first and foremost way you should be caring for your pet during summer. Portable water bowls are a summer must have for this reason. Dehydration is especially possible since your dog will likely be doing a lot of panting, heavy breathing, and sweating through the paws in hot weather - all of which cause your pup to lose fluids.
While it is important for dogs to continue to stay active through daily walks and have the opportunity to go outside to use the bathroom, their paws can be sensitive to hot surfaces, such as the pavement. If you touch the pavement and it's too hot for your hand, it'll be even hotter for your little friend's paws. You can either opt out of walking and find another form of exercise to satisfy your pup's daily need for physical activity, such as splashing in the pool or playing indoors, or you can find some dog shoes. Dog shoes can be made from an assortment of materials that will create a barrier between your companion's paws and the ground, protecting them from getting scorched. It's not only safe, but stylish, too! Walking on the grass instead of asphalt is ideal, also.
Your dog should never be left outside for too long without supervision, especially in extremely hot weather. Heat can take effect on your canine's body within just minutes. However, the times where they do need to be left alone outside or are outside at all, ensure that they have access to shade or shelter at all times. Dog houses are less ideal in comparison to that of a simple tree, as trees allow for more air flow and don't trap heat the way a doghouse does. A cooling mat or small doggy or kiddie pool are good places for shelter and cooling down.
Though it may be surprising, dogs can get sunburn! This is especially common for dogs with lighter colored fur. Sunburn can be painful and uncomfortable and can even lead to skin cancer. There is actually sunscreen for dog fur, skin, and paws, which works similarly to how our sunscreen works! Don't use human sunscreen on dogs, though, and consult with your veterinarian about which you should use.
Talk to your vet or groomer about whether or not your dog could benefit from getting their fur shaved or trimmed. Tangles and matting is never good for your dog because it can hinder the circulation of blood and make your dog even warmer. Chances are their extra long, heavy fur is weighing them down and increasing their body temperature, too. However, it's always better to be safe and consult with someone first before pulling out the at-home grooming supplies and shaving your furry friend.
Fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes thrive in warm, humid weather, and they thrive even better when they latch themselves onto your pet's fur. Fleas and ticks in particular have a tendency of sucking blood from your pet with each bite. Mosquitoes are notoriously known for nipping on people during the summer, and they have no problem nibbling on your pet too. Fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes alike can transmit harmful diseases to your dog like West Nile Virus, Malaria, Murine Typhus, Tapeworms, and more. Luckily, there's a wide selection of products that will help combat these pests. From collars, traps, sprays, and ointments, to shampoos, wipes, and combs. These will work to repel bugs, as well as kill them. Prevention is your best bet!
Sometimes the best protection for your dog is knowing when it might just be too hot for them to go out. Whether or not this is the situation depends on a mix of factors, including your dog’s size, age, breed, fur, availability of shade and water, and where exactly you’re headed. While this may not be ideal and you badly want to take your pet out on your summer adventures, be sure to do everything you can to beat the heat during the dog days of this summer!