Six Tips to Keep Your Pets Cool This Summer

“Winter is coming.” You may have heard the famous words of House Stark from the hit series Game of Thrones, it’s a warning to Westeros (their world) that the harsh freezing temperatures and deep snow will always come. For us Floridians, we have our own twist on these famous words: Summer is coming. 

As the summer fast approaches, bringing with it the sweltering months of heat and frequent thunderstorms in the humid afternoons, not to mention the start of hurricane season (which we’ll talk about in a future post), it’s time to start preparing yourself, and your pets, for ways to keep cool and happy as temperatures soar. Florida’s summers can easily reach 100F at the hottest part of the day, with a humidity to match. Humidity can spell disaster for our dogs.

Dangers to Our Dogs

Dogs can struggle with extreme heat and humidity. Panting allows them to lose body height through excess moisture in their lungs, but the humidity slows their ability to do so. While many flat-faced breeds (bulldogs, pugs, mastiffs) have become increasingly popular in recent years, this breeding can impede their ability to breathe, which in turn affects their ability to lose heat which means they easily overheat. 

Additionally, thicker and darker coats put our beloved pets at further risk because dark colors retain heat. While shaving off their thick fur does help them stay cool, you need to be aware that you are also exposing their “virgin” skin and may put them at more risk of sunburn and heatstroke. Be aware that dogs may still get sunstroke and sunburn even if they seem to hae a thick coat. 

Another big offender is hot roads, paths and patios. Dog’s paws are sensitive and their paws can be easily burnt on hot stone and asphalt. 

So How Do We Keep Our Dogs Cool?

1. Avoid walks in the middle of the day

Image: Walking golden retriever in the park.

Instead, try to walk in the early morning or in the evening before or as the sun sets. While restless dogs can be difficult to keep occupied when their routine is disrupted, they’ll soon adjust to walking at these times. On especially hot and humid days, take shorter walks and try to walk on grassy areas that will naturally be cool.

2. Use water for fun

Some dogs love a kiddie pool or hose sprinkler to play in. The water will help them lose the additional heat, and they’ll have another source to stay hydrated. 

3. Add ice to their water dish

Either freeze half a bowl of water or add ice cubes to their water dish to help them keep cool. 

Image: Dog drinking from water bottle.

4. Make pupcicles

If your dog loves treats there are plenty of frozen treats you can make for your dog that will keep them occupied, happy and cool. Visit Baking Mischief to see some recipes, but you can simply freeze carrots and bananas if you’re looking for something you likely have in your fridge. 

5. Provide an ample amount of shade

At the hottest parts of the day, keeping your dog inside will be safest, but at other times try to provide them with ample shade. If it doesn’t naturally occur in your garden where your dog prefers to relax by a window, try setting up a sun umbrella to create a shady spot. 

6. Apply animal-friendly sunscreen

if you shave your dog or they have thin fur, consider applying animal-friendly sunscreen to their most at risk areas, like the top of the head, top of their nose, ears, back, paws and stomach. They likely won’t thank you for applying the cream, but they’ll be much better off if you do!

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