Chill, Dog! Staying Cool When Summer Heats Up

I’m sure as the weather heats up, you and your family are probably planning on some summer fun. Maybe it’s a trip to the lake, a camping excursion, a sea cruise to Australia or maybe even a trip abroad. Every year, my family and I make the pilgrimage to the plains of Iowa for our favorite festival of alternative lifestyles, Smoldering Man. This five-day festival hosts literally dozens of people from all walks of life (most of them fascinating Midwesterners) where we ride bikes, drink Yoo-Hoo and eat about as much oatmeal as a body can handle within reason. Oh, and there’s canasta, too. It’s pretty off the hook. Cray cray, as the kids say nowadays.

As the degrees go from Brrrrrr! to Ahhhhhh! I’m sure you, too, will want to take your pets along with you on some, if not all, of these summer fun runs. Summer is a great chance to bond with the family and pets, but there are a few precautions you’ll want to take to make sure you get the most out of your precious warm weather time, plus keeping the pets safe from harm. Here are my top five ways to keep your dog cool this summer, so open up your favorite summer beverage, (for me it’s always an ice cold Yoo-Hoo) and read on!

  1. The pool: Nothing better on a hot day than a splash in the pool! Most dogs love to follow toys into the water and a soak in the pool is a great way to keep them cool. Remember to always observe your dog just like you would a kid in the pool and never leave them unattended. Many community pools have a special “Dog Day” (usually in the afternoon) right before they drain and clean the pool for the season where dogs are allowed to splash and play to their heart’s content.
  2. The lake: If you are lucky enough to live near a lake, this is high on many dogs’ bucket lists (bonus points if they get to go on a boat ride). Lakes, cabins and boats are great places to take your dogs to cool off when it gets hot, and they even make doggy life preservers. Just like the pool, never leave your dog unattended by the lake and make sure you always know where they are on the boat.
  3. The hose: Dogs will go bonkers chasing water from a hose. Playing with a hose or sprinkler is a fine way to cool off a hot dog. A couple of precautions, though — if the hose has been sitting in the sun, the water inside gets hot. Don’t spray the water on your dog before testing the temperature yourself. Also, some dogs will drink waaaaay too much water when playing with the hose and in some extreme cases this can be dangerous. Make sure you don’t let them go totally bonkers when playing with the hose.
  4. Misters: I have four chickens in my backyard and when the temp gets about 95, they really like it when I turn on the mister I installed around the coop. These are easily installed and don’t cost much, and they can drop the temp by around 20 degrees. If you have an outdoor dog, consider adding one of these near the doghouse to keep them cool as a cucumber.
  5. Lovin’ the A/C: Resist the temptation to take your dogs in the car, even for a short trip. The inside of a car can become a deathtrap in just a few minutes, and we’ve all had those “just a few items” shopping trips that become a marathon of consumerism. That’s plenty of time to expose your dog to heatstroke in the car. Leave the pooch on the couch and crank the A/C.

Dogs can’t cool themselves by sweating through their skin like people can. They need water or cool air to be able to dump heat from their bodies. Follow these five simple rules above and you and your dog can enjoy a summer filled with all the wonders that oatmeal and Yoo-Hoo can provide. See you in Iowa!

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