Summertime is a great opportunity to get out and enjoy the beautiful weather, but it can be "ruff" on our furry friends. Dogs don't handle the heat as well as humans do, so it's important to take precautions to keep them safe and cool. In this blog post, we'll share how dogs naturally regulate their body temperature, signs of overheating and heat stroke in dogs, and ways to keep them hydrated and cool when the temperatures start to rise. We'll also provide a list of tips for keeping your dog happy and healthy this summer, so let's dive in!
How Dogs Naturally Reduce Body Temperature
Unlike humans, dogs have very few sweat glands. This means they aren't able to naturally cool themselves down effectively. Instead of sweating, dogs regular their temperature by panting. When a dog pants, he is essentially convection cooling - forcing warm air out of his lungs and replacing it with cooler air.
Another way that dogs cool themselves is through their paw pads, which are filled with blood vessels that help to dissipate heat. A dog's natural cooling process can lower their body temperature by up to 7 degrees Fahrenheit.
However, this may not always be enough to cool them down, especially in high temperatures or humid conditions. When the weather is hot, it's important to keep an eye on your dog for signs of overheating.
Signs Your Dog Is Overheating
Some warning signs that your dog is overheating are:
- Heavy panting or difficulty breathing
- Increased heart rate
- Bright red gums and tongue
- Excessive drooling or salivating
- Skins feels hot to touch
- Weakness or collapse
If you see any of these signs, it's important to take action immediately to cool your dog down. Otherwise, your dog could quickly become severely dehydrated, resulting in vomiting, diarrhea, inability to stand, seizures, or death.
If you think your dog is overheating, move them to a shady or air conditioned area and apply cool (not cold) water all over their body, ensuring that the water reaches the skin. Using icy or cold water could put your dog in shock and constrict the surface blood vessels in the skin, which ends up retaining heat instead of dissipating it.
If you don't have access to an electric fan or air conditioning, your can help draw heat away from the body surface by fanning the dog yourself. Wipe the face and muzzle with cool water, allow them to drink small amounts of water and get to your closest emergency animal hospital as soon as possible if the signs persist.
As a good rule of thumb, be prepared with a plan as temperatures starts to rise. And if you think your dog is starting to overheat, take a minute to check in on them. If you are sweating, your dog is already feeling the heat and has to work much harder to cool themselves down - so keep that in mind as you plan summer activities with your dog!
Ways To Keep Your Dog Cool
This is one of the most important and effective ways to keep your dog comfortable and healthy in the heat. Throughout the day, whether you are just hanging out at home or on the go, make sure your dog has access to plenty of fresh, clean water. A dog needs twice as much water in warm weather, so check their water bowl often and fill it up!
If your dog is going to be home alone, make sure to fill up their bowl before you leave the house and refill it as soon as you get home. If you're taking your pup on some outings, bring along a portable water bowl or dispenser.
This is the portable dog water bottle that we have and we love it! It's perfect for bringing water on all our adventures with Archie.
Sometimes our dogs don't always cooperate when we need them to keep hydrated. If your dog doesn't seem interested in drinking from their bowl, try adding a little bit of chicken broth or low-sodium beef broth to make it more appealing. You can also try throwing some ice cubes in their water bowl to help keep it cooler for longer and encourage them to drink drink drink!
Take Lots Of Breaks (Preferably Under The Shade Or Inside)
If you're out and about with your dog, make sure to take lots of breaks in the shade or inside where it's cooler. This will help prevent them from getting too overheated.
A good rule of thumb is to bring your dog inside or into the shade every 20 minutes when they are outside in hot weather. If your dog is showing any signs of overheating, take a break immediately.
If you're going on a hike or walk with your dog in hot weather, make sure to bring along some water for them and plan your route accordingly so that you can take lots of breaks in the shade.
Hikes are one of our favorite summer activities with Archie, but we always make sure to bring along plenty of water for him and take breaks often. We also try to hike early in the morning or later in the evening when it's not as hot out.
Even taking these precautions while playing in the backyard can make all the difference and your pup will really appreciate it.
Make Frozen Dog Treats
During the summer months, keeping your dog cool and hydrated is the name of the game. Another great way to do this is to make frozen dog treats! Not only are they easy (and super fun) to make, but they're also a healthy and refreshing snack for your four-legged friend.
Simply mix together some of your dog's favorite fruits and vegetables with some water or chicken broth, pour it into an ice cube tray, and freeze. You can even add a little bit of yogurt or peanut butter to make it extra yummy!
When making frozen treat recipes it's best to consult with your vet first to make sure your dog doesn't have any allergies and to make them with safe, water-rich fruits and vegetables that will add extra hydration and moisture to their daily diet. Some of these include:
- Berries - Strawberries, Blueberries, and Raspberries
- Melons - Watermelon, Honeydew Melon, and Cantaloupe
- Green Beans
To get started, we've pulled together some of our favorite, DIY frozen treat recipes for your dog:
- Banana and Peanut Butter Pupsicles
- Watermelon and Carrot Pupsicles
- Golden Vegetable Frosty Paws with Tasty Meaty Middles
If you don't have an ice cube tray or want to change things up, you can also use these recipes in KONG toys, silicone treat molds, on lick mats or try making an ice, cold mocktail for your pup. So next time it's hot outside, reach for the freezer and give your best friend a refreshing snack!
Get In The Water
If your dog loves playing in the water or swimming, this one is a no-brainer! Swimming is a fantastic way to exercise your pup and super beneficial for dogs of all ages, sizes, and breeds. It's low-impact and easy on the joints, so it's perfect for senior dogs or those recovering from injuries. And most importantly, swimming or even just wading in the water, is a great way to cool off on hot, summer days!
Have a dog that's a little unsure about the water? Not a problem, ease into it and take baby steps!
Allow your dog to get used to simply having his feet in the water and don't force your dog to move into deeper zones until they are happy & content here first. Little by little, you can start gradually moving them deeper and be sure to give them tons of praise and encouragement along the way (treats don't hurt either!). Soon enough, they'll be diving in all by themselves!
What I love about this summer cool-down activity is it's versatility - you can take your dog to a dog-friendly beach or lake, set-up a blow-up pool in your backyard or play in the sprinklers, or sign-up for dock diving classes with your dog. There's even dog water parks and local businesses dedicated to doggy swim lessons in some cities.
No matter where you're swimming, there are a few things to keep in mind. Your dog is burning a lot of energy, so it's really important to make sure that your dog stays hydrated. You'll want to bring along a bowl and plenty of fresh water for them to drink in between splash sessions. Anytime your dog is near water it's always a good idea to supervise them to ensure their safety and safety of others. And, lastly, have fun splashing around with your best pal!
Exercise In The Morning & Evening
We all know that dogs need their exercise, but how do keep up with their daily walks when it's really hot outside? Walking your dog during the coolest times of the day (early in the morning or later at night) is a great way to avoid the heat for you and your dog.
It's important to remember that walking during the warmest times of the day also puts our dogs at risk of burning their paws on the pavement. If you need to take your dog out on walks around midday, you might want to consider getting booties for your dog to protect their paw pads or at the very least, check how hot the pavement is before proceeding with your walk.
It's super quick and easy! All you have to do is place your palm against the pavement - if you can hold it there comfortably for 10 seconds, you're all good to go! If not, better to wait until it's cooler or take your dog to a local park where there is plenty of grass and shade.
No matter where you take your dog for walkies, you can't go wrong with sticking to the cooler times of the day. Plus, you might get to catch some beautiful sunrises and sunsets along the way!
Keep Your Dog Well Groomed
This one might surprise you! Many dog breeds actually have a double-coat, which helps to keep your dog protected and insulated not only from the cold, but also from the heat. This combo of long, stiff guard hairs and short, fluffy dense hairs acts like a shield for your dog - if well-maintained.
When your dog's fur is at an appropriate length and brushed thoroughly, it allows for cool air to reach the skin and sun rays will bounce off of the top coat. Crazy stuff, right?
If your dog's undercoat begins to get matted or impacted, there will be little to no air flow circulating near the skin to cool them down and the fur begins to trap heat - causing your dog to overheat very quickly. On the other hand, shaving your dog can have the opposite effect and put your dog at risk for getting a sunburn. Dog's can get sunburned?? I know, I didn't realize it either!
This is why most vets don't recommend shaving your dog during the summer, but rather sticking to a routine groomers appointment to maintain your dog's coat and brushing your dog daily. This can make all the difference in keep your pup cool and comfortable all summer long!
Consider Buying Cooling Dog Products
Last but not least, let's talk cooling products! There are so many amazing brands that have come-up with the "coolest" solutions for keeping your dog comfortable in the heat. Here are some of our favorites:
- Cooling Mats
- Cooling Shirts, Vests & Bandanas
- Portable Water Bottles
- Dog Booties
- Covered & Elevated Outdoor Cots
- Foldable Dog Pools
Each of these products offer extra cooling and protection for your dog, while giving you peace of mind. These are just a few ways that we can keep our dogs comfortable all summer long!
Summertime is a great time for humans, but it can be tough on dogs. Even though our dogs have naturally ways of cooling down, they overheat faster than we do and sometimes they need our help. Knowing the signs of overheating and how to keep your dog cool and hydrated throughout the summer can help our pups enjoy the summer and stay healthy.
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