The Paw Print Genetics Blog

Part 2: Summer Heat Precautions to Keep Dogs Safe

Part 2: Summer Heat Precautions to Keep Dogs Safe

In part one of our summer heat post, I wrote about the dangers of leaving dogs in a hot car, recognizing signs of heat stress and how to save a heat-stressed dog. Give it a read if you haven't yet. But heat-related issues are usually completely avoidable with a little foresight, precaution and knowledge on your part.

To keep your pup comfortable, cool and safe from the heat this summer, check out these tips ... is there anything you would add? 

Commonsense Rules

Like most everything, commonsense can keep your dog safe. A few simple steps can keep your dog from overheating in most situations.

  • Exercise: Don’t do it in the middle of the day when temperatures are hottest. While early evening provides a cooler time to work, mornings are the coolest, and best, times to exercise. At no other time will the earth’s surface be as cool as at first light. An added benefit of morning is dew – it can help cool your dog by wetting his paws and perhaps his skin.
  • Water: Always have fresh cool water on hand for your dog. If you’re training or exercising, stop more frequently than normal and offer her a drink. When you’re at work, leave plenty of water for your dog to drink; I like to leave multiple bowls in different spots that are shaded to ensure there’s enough water and that it stays cool. Swimming helps cool a dog quickly. A lake, river, pool or even puddle (although they can get hot), can help provide your pooch relief on warm days. Deep water acts as the best heat sink for a hot dog and will cool them the fastest. Evaporative cooling continues to take place after the dog exits the water, too – so let your dog swim/soak if he’s hot.
  • Shade: Providing a way for your dog to get out of the direct rays of the sun is a good way to keep him cool. Trees, bushes, a patio umbrella or specially designed shade cover for his kennel are all options.

While at Work

If you keep your dog outside while at work, you owe it to them to provide an escape from the sun and heat of midday. Natural and artificial shade is one step you can take, but here are few others that can bring the temps down and keep Fido as cool as you are in your air-conditioned office.

  • Sprinkler settings: If you have automated sprinklers, set them to go off multiple times during the afternoon hours. Even just a few minutes here and there can provide the relief your dog needs. I even turn a couple of the sprinkler heads so that they spray the concrete patio, which can get H-O-T after hours in the sun.
  • Kiddie pool: Another tool I’ve used is a small child’s pool. It’s a cheap easy way to ensure enough water is available for your dog, and it gives them a way to quickly cool down at their leisure.
  • Cool mats: Placed in the shade, mats that hold water and keep it cool provide your dog a nice spot to chill. Mats such as this one from work great (as long as your pup doesn’t chew).

Traveling: Keeping Cool on the Road

So, you’re never going to leave your pup in a closed-up car during the heat of summer. Good on you. But what about when you’re traveling?

The excitement of the open road and sunshine through windows, especially in the back seat or cargo area of SUVs, can raise the temps and start heating up a dog.

  • Ventilate: Keep your air conditioner up high enough so that it pushes cool air completely to the back of the vehicle and reaches your dog. If you don’t have AC, keep the windows down so sufficient air washes over your dog and keeps him from getting too hot. Don’t be afraid to pull over often to offer plenty of water breaks.
  • Travel with ice: A bag of ice from the super market or a gallon jug filled with water and frozen is perhaps the cheapest, most efficient way to keep a dog cool while traveling – or even at home. Ice keeps the immediate area cool, gives your dog something to lick (cooling him further) and allows him to nestle up to it if he needs to cool down more. Here’s a great video on the topic
    Add a fan: Crate fans can help push air over your dog while travelling. It can enhance the use of the air conditioner, open windows and ice. Heavy-duty fans such as this one from Gun Dog Supply cost more, but are convenient and work best; inexpensive models such as this one can help, too.

*Image courtesy of anneheathen via Flickr Creative Commons License*