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Humans wait all year to enjoy warm weather so we can soak up the sun and enjoy the water, but the hottest months of the year can be a tough time for our four-legged friends. Dogs are prone to all the same warm-weather concerns as we are — dehydration, heatstroke, and even sunburn. So what’s a pet owner to do during the dog days, so to speak? Taking a few simple precautions can help you enjoy the sun and fun without worrying about your pet’s health or safety.
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1. Lap Up Fresh Water & keep your dog cool in summer
The most important thing you can do to keep your dog at the ideal temperature when it’s hot out is to make sure that they drink plenty of H2O throughout the day. Always have fresh water accessible indoors and out and make sure to bring a collapsible bowl along with you on outings. If your dog isn’t great about drinking water, make sure to provide plenty of healthy dog treats and consider adding flavoring to their water to get them to drink. Thirsty pets may also enjoy licking an ice cube or two outside for a cool refreshment.
2. Provide Shade Outside
If your pet likes to spend summer days relaxing outside, make sure they have plenty of shady spots to lie down in. You may think now would be a great time to invest in a backyard dog house, but know that some structures can trap in heat and get extremely hot. If your canine companion loves his dog house, make sure it’s well-aerated and is placed in the shade to keep temps down. Always bring a beach umbrella or canopy (and plenty of water) if you plan to bring your dog to the beach, the park, or on a picnic. Don’t forget to spoil them with some safe, healthy treats, such as bully sticks for dogs, while you spend time with them outside.
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3. Grab an Elevated Dog Bed
Put your pet on a pedestal! Elevated dog beds or cots are specifically designed to keep canines off the hot ground. Since they’re open on the bottom, there’s plenty of room for airflow all around your furry friend, which can help prevent them from overheating. Choose an elevated pet bed made from a highly breathable material that’s easy to clean. This material serves as a soft sling, so it will be easier on your dog’s joints than the hard ground.
4. Go for a Swim to keep your dog cool in summer
Swimming is an excellent way to lower body temperature and cool off when it’s sweltering out, and you get the added bonus of getting your four-legged friend an extra dose of low-impact exercise that’s gentle on their joints. If you’ve never taken your dog for a swim, be sure they’re comfortable in the water before diving in (literally).
Look for local dog parks with swim areas so your curious canine can get their paws wet and socialize with other dogs at the same time. Some areas also have pet-friendly pool days, often on the last day of the season when they’re getting ready to shut everything down for the fall. You might also consider putting a small wading pool in the backyard for your dog to splash around in without having to leave your home.
5. Avoid the Hot Car
You already know that a hot car is a high risk for your fuzzy friend. That’s because the interior of your car can quickly reach triple digits, which can mean serious health problems for your pet. You never want to leave your dog in the car for any period of time if the weather is warmer than 70 degrees Fahrenheit outside. Why? That 70 degrees translates to about 110 degrees inside the car, which is not safe for any human or animal. Unless you’re heading out on pet-friendly errands, it’s best to leave your dog at home.
6. Go for a Ride
Yes, the car can leave your pet at risk of heat stroke and exhaustion, but it can also be a great tool to help them stay cool. Go for a ride with the windows down and let your dog stick his head out the window. Not only will it help distract them from the heat, but it will also provide some much-needed mental stimulation and time away from home. If it’s sweltering out, your pet will appreciate a ride with the windows up in the ice-cold air conditioning, too!
7. Crank the A/C to keep your dog cool in summer
If it’s especially hot out, make sure your pet is safe and comfortable by keeping them in the air conditioning, especially during the hottest times of the day. What about fans? Interestingly, a ceiling or box fan probably won’t do a whole lot to help you cool down your furry friend. That’s because fans cool us through convection and sweat evaporation. Since dogs don’t sweat much, fans aren’t the best way to cool them down. On the other hand, air conditioners cool down the air, which makes everybody more comfortable.
8. Create a Safe Spot on the Hardwood or Tile
There’s no denying the refreshing feeling of a cold, hard floor on a hot summer day. Make sure your pet has a cozy place to lie on the bare floor, away from any potential anxiety-triggers like the washing machine or dishwasher. If you have an older dog or one who suffers from arthritis or hip dysplasia, know that the hard floor might make your pet’s stiff joints sore or achy. This is where a cooling pet bed or sleeping pad would come in handy.
Keeping your pet cool when it’s sweltering out is an important part of keeping them safe, healthy, and comfortable as you enjoy the nice weather. Follow the above tips to ensure that they stay at the ideal temperature to avoid burns, heat exhaustion, sunburn, and other potentially risky effects of too much sun exposure. This way, you’ll be able to enjoy even more time with your dear friend.