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When the dog days of summer roll around, it’s important to protect your furry pal from the heat. Unlike humans, dogs don’t have enough sweat glands to effectively regulate their body temperatures. Instead, dogs rely on panting — and their owner looking out for them! Here are 12 ways to help keep your pup as cool as a cucumber all summer long.
1. Make sure your dog has a shaded area to relax in. Like you, your dog loves a shady spot on a sweltering day. If your dog spends a lot of time outside in the summer, provide them with a sun-sheltered area beneath a tree, canopy, patio umbrella, etc. — or install a pet door so they can go inside when they want.
2. Save walks and exercise sessions for cooler hours. Schedule walks for early morning or after the sun goes down, if possible. Just make sure to avoid long walks in the afternoon, the hottest part of the day. Your dog will appreciate the cooler temperatures.
3. Provide plenty of fresh water. There’s nothing better than a nice drink of refreshing water on a hot summer day. If you take your pooch out for a walk on a warm day, be sure to bring along water and a drinking bowl for them.
4. Check the ground for hot spots. Blacktop can get scorchingly hot for your dog's pads. Touch the surface yourself; if it's too hot for you, it's probably too hot for your dog. If your pup is willing to wear them, dog booties can help protect their paws from hot pavement.
5. Have fun with water. Try hosing your dog down with a gentle spray of cool water, or go for a swim. If your canine companion isn’t a big fan of water, keep in mind it may take a few tries before they enjoy the experience. If all goes according to plan, they'll feel happy and refreshed in no time.
6. Never keep your dog in a car on a hot day. Think twice before taking your furry best friend along on summer errands. Even if you're parked in the shade with the windows down a little, the temperature could rapidly rise to a dangerous level. Unless you’re going on a dog-friendly driving adventure, consider leaving your pup at home and inside.
7. When in doubt, stay inside the house. Keep your dog indoors when you go outside or leave your home for more than an hour. If possible, restrict your pup to rooms with either air conditioning or a fan — just make sure the fan is out of their reach.
8. Turn their bed into a cool refuge. When temperatures soar, remove cushiony bedding from your dog's crate or bed; they may actually be more comfortable lying on the cooler bottom rather than on warm blankets. You can also look into dog cooling mats at your local pet specialty store. There are options with water-activated crystals, pressure-activated gel and more to keep the mat — and the dog lying on it — cool.
9. Keep toilet lids down. Summer is the time of year when dogs are most tempted to drink the cold water from toilet bowls. Remember to have plenty of other fresh water available and keep the toilet lid down — and always try to avoid chemical cleaners and fresheners that stay in the bowl.
10. Groom your dog for summer. Brush your dog’s coat often during the summer months to help reduce shedding and mats. A shorter summer clip is fine for many dogs, but resist the urge to give your pup a buzz cut. A dog’s fur is part of their natural insulation system that keeps hot air out during summer. Plus, shaving your dog's coat too short can put them at risk for sunburn.
11. Help prevent doggie sunburn. Dogs that tend to lie on concrete or light surfaces, hairless breeds, and pups with white or thin coats or light-pigmented noses and eyelids are more at risk for sunburn. If your pet is prone to sunburn, consider applying a sunscreen specifically designed for dogs before a long day outside. There are also sun shirts, suits, hats and goggles for dogs designed to help protect them from UV rays.
12. Check out the latest cooling collars. Your local pet specialty store might stock cool collars. Cooling collars or vests often use water, ice or frozen gel to help keep your dog cool and refreshed.
These tips are especially important if you own an older dog that is less likely to tolerate extreme summer temperatures. If your dog is panting heavily, salivating or foaming, they may be having a heat-related medical issue. As soon as you notice the signs of heat-related illness, get your dog to a cool location and provide small drinks of cold water. If they don’t improve within a few minutes, contact your veterinarian.
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