Now that the dog days of summer are on us again, it’s time to start thinking about how to keep our pooches cool in the hot summer heat.
To Walk, or Not to Walk?
Dogs reduce their body heat by panting, rather than sweating as humans do. Brachycephalic dogs who have a shortened, pushed in face (think bulldogs, pugs, Boston terriers, shih tzus, boxers, etc.), are often prone to breathing problems, which in turn reduces the efficacy of their panting. As such, these breeds often overheat quicker than their more “normal” faced cousins. For these dogs, it is often a good idea to limit walks to relief walks, and avoid taking them out during the hottest part of the day.
Other dog breeds have thick double coats and may over heat faster than dogs with thinner coats. Make sure you take this into consideration when you walk your dog. But do not shave your thick, double coated dog! This double coat gives them insulation against the heat, and also helps to protect against sunburn. If you do shave your pet, make sure to leave at least an inch of hair to protect their skin. And as always, monitor your pet closely when he/she is outside.
Dogs need mental stimulation to prevent them from becoming bored. Many of the dogs we see in our private sessions benefit greatly from the enrichment and relationship building that mental stimulation can provide. If your dog is suddenly getting less physical exercise due to weather, you can often alleviate or prevent behavioral problems stemming from inactivity and boredom by adding some quick enrichment activities
Food Dispensing Toys
Use food toys such as the Kong Wobbler, Kong Classic, Busy Buddy Squirrel Dude, Busy Buddy Kibble Nibble, Buster Cube, or IQ ball (or many others!) to replace meal time. If your dog is new to any of these products, you can join in on the fun and help your figure them dog out!
These toys allow you to cleverly hide kibble or treats in little compartments that your dog then needs to figure out how to access. Our favorite puzzles are ones by Nina Ottosson, but there are also puzzles by Outward Hound that are great as well.
Working on anything from basic obedience commands (this is a great time to work on how fast and accurately your dog responds to cues!) to complex tricks (play dead, sit pretty, clean up your toys) can also provide a good energy outlet for your dog. Plus, your dog becomes easier to live with as you can more easily redirect them from away from inappropriate behaviors.
If you do walk your pet a lot during the summer, or are active in dog sports, focus your activities in the shade or near large bodies of water, where the air tends to be cooler. You can also check out the following products that can help keep your pet cool.
This vest provides both protection from the sun and relief from the heat. Dogs can get sunburn too, particularly dogs with short, fine coats. Help reduce the risk by covering them up with this cooling vest. The cooling properties are activated when the vest is soaked in cool water, wrung out, and then placed on the dog. As the water evaporates, it helps to cool Fido in a similar way evaporating sweat helps to cool us.
This vest features two gel cooling packs (sold separately) that you insert to help keep Fido cool. Ideal for locations that get humid and prevent the evaporation that powers other cooling vests.
If you’re going to be stationary (think hanging out in Central Park!), cooling mats provide a great place for your pooch to relax and cool off. You can increase their efficacy by combining one with a portable crate and a shade cloth. And remember to bring plenty of water for both you and Fido!