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How to Help Your Dog with the Summer Heat

When summertime comes, the days grow longer, and usually hotter. It’s a great time to be outdoors, but imagine how you’d feel wearing a heavy coat in the sun. That’s not exactly what it’s like to be a dog in the summer, but you get the idea of the level of discomfort.

Dogs regulate their body temperature differently from humans. They can’t sweat through their skin, so they do it through the pads on their paws. Also, a dog with his tongue hanging out isn’t just smiling at you; he’s panting, to circulate cool air.

Here are some ways to help your canine companion enjoy the summer right alongside you:

  • Provide plenty of water.
    Hydration is important all year round, but particularly in the summer. Always keep the water dish full of fresh, cold water. If your dog is alone in the house for long periods, you might consider a fountain to keep the right amount available at all times.
  • Keep your home cool.
    If you have air conditioning, have it set at a comfortable level, with shades or curtains over the windows. If you don’t have AC, have a fan going. Cooling pads and jackets can also provide simple solutions for fast relief.
  • Travel wisely.
    Don’t leave your dog in the car on a hot day, for any amount of time. Even with the windows open for ventilation, the temperature can still soar to dangerous levels, which will only worsen with time. It’s best our furry friends stay home when we go out, or only go places that allow dogs.
  • Stay in the shade.
    And make sure it’s the right shade. A doghouse provides protection from the elements, but little in the way of ventilation. If your dog can relax under a nice shady tree, you’ll both rest easier.
  • Watch where you walk.
    All types of pavement can get hot to the touch in the blazing sun, so when going for a walk, keep your dog on the grass for a cooler outdoor experience. Outdoor boots for dogs may be a good choice for you, especially if you’ll be hiking with your dog through rough terrain.
  • Freeze those treats and toys.
    You can make your own dog popsicles by freezing treats in an ice cube tray. While you’re at it, keep freezable toys and chews in the icebox for a cool surprise that will also keep your hot dog occupied.
  • Grooming is good.
    If your dog has long hair, brush it regularly to keep it free of mats and tangles. But don’t shave your dog or clip the hair too close, as it also may help protect the skin. Check with your vet or your groomer before going for the buzz cut.
  • Keep an eye on things.
    Stay alert for anything out of the ordinary, and go to your vet immediately if your dog isn’t acting normal. The hot weather can cause breathing difficulties, particularly for breeds like pugs, bulldogs, and some spaniels. Along with heavy breathing, drooling, dizziness, and agitation are all possible signs of heatstroke. Excessive humidity can also hamper a dog’s attempts to stay cool. Make sure you’re up to date on all vaccines and medications, especially since it’s flea and tick season.
  • Published:
  • Updated: 6/15/2018: 1:52:08 PM ET