As Seattle continues to experience record high heat, we at PugetPets share concerns for the health and comfort of our canine friends. Because dogs can’t sweat (except from between their foot pads), it’s an extra challenge to keep your dog cool compared to keeping yourself cool in the summer heat. Here we offer some tips, products and tricks to help keep your furry buddy safe from hyperthermia (overheating).
If your dog is home alone, make sure indoor temperatures are comfortable. If you don’t have air conditioning, close shades and drapes. Open your windows early in the morning before you leave to allow cool air to enter your home. Close them before you leave, so they will be closed during the hottest part of the day. Although this may seem counter-intuitive, keeping your windows closed will help prevent hot afternoon air from flowing into the house and heating it up. Provide your dog with plenty of cold water. You can add ice cubes to the water to help keep it cool.
Although most dogs love to go for a ride in the car, the current consensus is that you should never leave your dog in a parked car during summer heat. This holds true even if you park in the shade and the windows are cracked. Temperatures inside a vehicle quickly skyrocket to a point that is intolerable for dogs and other animals. In addition, confinement in the car while you are gone can be stressful for dogs. They can react to passersby or other dogs or they might panic from separation and/or claustrophobia. All these stresses can increase activity and with it, the risk of hyperthermia. If you can’t take your pooch with you when you arrive at your destination, it’s probably best to leave him or her safe at home. Read the PugetPets “Hot Cars” blog post for more details about the dangers of hot cars, including information about what to do if you see a dog or cat overheating in a parked car.
Avoid exercising your dog during the heat of the day. Take walks and runs during the morning and evening hours when it’s cooler. If you must be out during the day, take the advice of PugetPets dog walkers: keep to shady areas and take a water source to keep your dog cool. Many products are available to help you take your dog’s water with you. A combination water bottle/water dish such as the LumoLeaf portable pet water bottle, is convenient and designed to fit in a water bottle carrier pack or car cup holder. You can also share water on the go using a collapsible water/food bowl such as the Comsun collapsible dog bowl. Or you can keep it old school and under-budget by giving your dog a drink from your cupped hand. Just remember to hydrate! You can also make water a destination on your walk, either a community dog bowl, fountain or even a lake where your dog can combine exercise with cooling down by taking a refreshing swim.
Your dog can. And this is one of nature’s best cooling mechanisms. Many dogs will find a shady spot and dig a bed in the cool earth to help them regulate their temperatures. If your dog wants to do this, let her, if you can. If the spot your dog chooses is in the middle of your prized landscaping, try to find a nice place for digging that is more acceptable, and encourage your dog to dig his or her cool bed there.
Use a water-sprayer to keep your dog cool (unless, of course, you’ve taught your dog that the spritzer means “NO!”). Be sure to spray the dog’s feet and belly. Dogs cool from the bottom up and this is more effective than spraying the top of their coats. If your dog likes to get into water, it’s a great idea to provide him with a wading pool filled with cold, shallow water. Adding some floating toys can provide tons of summer fun for both you and your dog.
If your dog associates the spray bottle with “NO” and the hose with a bath, you can still keep your dog cool with water. Consider a water-cooled dog bed, such as the K&H Cool Bed III (yes, it’s a waterbed for dogs). For a dryer alternative, try a raised dog cot, which allows air to flow under the dog. The under-budget alternative is a cold, wet towel for your dog to lay on. Specially designed water cooling jackets or vests use evaporation to keep your dog cool. This is just what sweating does for us humans. Ruffwear’s Swamp Cooler is one popular example of these products. In a pinch, an old wet t-shirt will do, just don’t count on your dog winning any contests.