How to Keep Your Dog Cool This Summer
The Dog Days of Summer
When temperatures soar into the 90's and 100's, sometimes it can be a real chore to keep your dog cool. He starts panting, and drooling, and soon is reduced to nothing more than a limp puddle of overheated dog sprawled out on the floor. Come on pup, they don't call it the "dog days" of summer for nothing, get up and have some fun! But some pups need a little help staying cool in the face of blistering heat. For you pet owners (like me) who have hot dogs (har har) here are some tips for keeping your dog cool in the heat.
Cut the Fuzz
Did you know that dog hair is such a good insulator that it's far warmer than wool or even alpaca? As a spinner I've read about people who have spun their dog's hair into yarn, made the yarn into socks or hats, and have been unable to wear them even in the coldest weather because they keep in heat so well. Now imagine wearing a dog fur sweater in June, yuck! If you have a longer haired breed it's a good idea to manage their fur in the summer months. You could simply use a product like the Furminator to thin out their hair and get all of the old, dead undercoat out, or your could clip your pooch as well. If you do decide to clip your pooch however, it's probably not a good idea to completely shave him or her. This leaves the sensitive skin exposed to harmful UV rays, and your dog could quickly get a painful sunburn. Instead, shave crucial areas like inside of and behind the ears, where a lot of heat and moisture gets trapped. This will help keep your dog cool and prevent bacteria from growing in the poor guy's ears.
Never Leave your Dog in the Car
This may seem like a big "duh" but every year I see some moron who has left his helpless pooch to bake in his car. The interior of your car can easily reach 110 to 120 degrees Fahrenheit within a matter of minutes in the heat. For a dog this means dehydration, heat stroke, and even death sometimes. If you are going somewhere that you cannot take your dog (ie: the grocery store) PLEASE leave him at home.
Wetter is Better
Just like human beings dogs need plenty of water to stay hydrated and healthy in the summer heat. Always make sure that your dog has lots of water in an easily accesible place, especially if he is outside. Many dogs also love sprinklers and kiddie pools, even non-sporting dogs. The lab may dive in face first, but my Cavalier King Charles Spaniels also like to wade into the cool water, up to their knees at least. There's nothing quite like a dip in the pool and a roll in the grass to sap off a sunny afternoon.
Keeping Cool in the Shade
If you have dogs suited for outdoor life summer can be a great time to leave them outside when you run errands or go to work. However, it is important to ensure your dog has shaded areas to relax in to keep him out of the direct sun. Trees are best, but an awning can also work in a pinch. If you really feel snazzy you could build a custom, air-conditioned dog house, but I doubt most of us have the wherewithal to do so.
Keeping your dog cool in the summer heat not only ensures his health, it also makes for a happier and more lively pooch. So if playing fetch and digging holes are on your doggy agenda this summer, make sure your best friend stays cool and hydrated so he's ready to play.