Hot town, summer in the city. We’ve rolled right into high-degree days, bypassing the comfortable temperatures of spring. If the outdoor temperature is miserable for us, it’s even more unbearable for our pets. Dogs “sweat” very inefficiently through the few sweat glands in their footpads and 80% of body temperature is reduced by panting. When high hot temperatures are combined with high humidity, lack of ventilation, shade, or access to water, dogs are especially prone to overheating. Here a few ways to determine signs of heatstroke and ways to keeping your dog cool in the summer.
Tips to Keep Your Dog Cool in the Summer
If you are planning on traveling with your dog or spending some time outdoors with your dog, here are some helpful tips to keep your dog cool in the summer heat.
Shade. Find a grassy area under a tree or spot of cool concrete for your dog to cool down. Not only is the air temperature more comfortable, but light-coated dogs or those with exposed skin are less likely to get a sunburn. Cooling pads, such as The Green Pet Shop Self-Cooling Pet Pad contain a gel that absorbs body heat and stays cool when pressure is applied.
Water. Keep plenty of clean, cold water available to keep your dog cool in the summer. Staying hydrated and cool from the inside out is extremely important on hot summer days. There are many collapsible bowls on the market that are portable and can be used when playing outside. Inexpensive plastic pools can be filled in the yard, so your dog can immerse himself and keep body temperature regulated. Swimming in a pool or clean lake is a great way to for us and dogs to cool off in the summer heat.
Limit exercise. Walk in the early morning or evening and avoid hot asphalt. If possible, limit walks to grassy areas and remember to bring water. Dog booties can be worn if asphalt is unavoidable.
Ventilation. A fan provides a limited amount of relief from hot weather and airflow is important. A doghouse can act like a hot car, and enclosed spaces (without A/C) should be avoided. Remember, a dog must pant to cool off and evaporative cooling is difficult above 90 degrees; even less when there is high humidity and poor circulation. Try blowing a fan over ice cubes to beat the heat.
Keep the coat. Because dogs don’t have sweat glands in their skin like humans, shaving their coats doesn’t provide relief. In fact, the first downy layer of a dog’s coat acts like insulation, keeping them cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. In addition, shaving a dog exposes their skin to the sun which can lead to burns and melanoma.
Get in the kitchen. Mix up a batch of homemade dog treats to cool them off in the hot weather days. See a Peanut Butter Popsicle recipe below!
Dog Overheated? Signs of Heatstroke
Signs of heatstroke can be observed when a dog’s body temperature rises to 104 degrees and above. Inside a car on an 85-degree day, even with the windows cracked, temperatures reach 120 degrees in 20 minutes! Don’t leave your dog unattended in a vehicle as there is no way to keep a dog cool in the car and no air is really passing through. Signs of heatstroke can include: heavy panting, glazed eyes, a fast heartbeat, difficulty breathing, excessive thirst, lethargy, fever, dizziness, lack of coordination, excessive salivation, vomiting, a deep red or purple tongue, seizure, and finally, unconsciousness.
Especially susceptible are the old and very young puppies, obese pets, dogs breeds with short muzzles (Bulldogs, Pugs, Boston Terrier and other brachycephalic breeds) and Arctic breeds like the Siberian Husky. A handy reference chart was developed by veterinarians at Tufts University that gives an idea what outdoor temperatures might be considered safe for your dog based on their body weight and physical condition. Take your pet’s individual physiology into consideration when deciding what is safe; staying inside is sometimes best for pets!
Homemade Frozen Dog Treats For Summer
DIY Peanut Butter Popsicles For Dogs
- 1 cup peanut butter, preferably unsalted and unsweetened (Check your peanut butter’s label to make sure it doesn’t contain any kind of xylitol, which is toxic to dogs.)
- Half a ripe banana, mashed
- Water as needed
In a small mixing bowl, combine peanut butter with a little water or half a mashed banana. (The water and banana aren’t essential, but they help with freezing consistency.)
Line a cookie sheet with wax paper, or use Kong-style rubber toys that have a cavity you can fill.
Spoon the mixture onto the tray just like you would cookie dough, or stuff it into the toys. Freeze the tray or toys for several hours or overnight. If you need to reuse the tray right away, pop out the cubes and store them in a bag or container in the freezer.
Enjoy on those days when nothing else will do!