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Friday, July 2, 2010

The Dog Days of Summer: 10 Tips for Staying Cool Outdoors

by Carrie Boyko

Lazy Summer Days
The walks are already getting scorching hot here in Central Florida. This is the time of year when I wish I lived farther north. I have to take precautions for the heat to assure everyone stays healthy. Here's my plan:
(c) Carrie Boyko
Homemade Cooling Bandannas
have Soft Ice Packs Rolled into the Necktie
  • Walk first thing in the morning or after dinner, to avoid the heat of the day. I always adjust their mealtime to eat well before or after. We certainly don't want any chances of Bloat.
  • The streets are hot in the afternoon, so on those times when I must take the dogs out during the heat of the day, I take care to walk them on grass or cement sidewalk, which is much cooler than asphalt. Some dog owners even use booties for protection.
  • My senior girl, Xena, has a particularly thick, black coat. She doesn't handle the heat so well as her younger housemates, so our summer walks accommodate her by swinging by the house midway and dropping her off. She simply cannot take the 2+ miles that the younger two dogs need, and is generally ready for a cool house and some rest by the halfway point.
  • Tanner, my Golden Retriever, has a very short, thin coat for a Golden. This plays out well for him in the summer, as the heat is not much of an issue for him. He'd stay outside all day, if I'd stick around with him. Typical Golden--loves the outdoors. Because Tanner spends a lot of time on the pool deck (by choice) I make sure he gets a swim before or after our walk, to cool him down. Then he gets a good rinse, to wash the chlorine off his fur, and gets a nice rubdown with a towel. 
  • Oliver is not as much a fan of the water as Tanner, but even for him, a hose down on a hot day is sometimes welcome. Because he is so small, I am particularly concerned about dehydration, so I quickly whisk him inside for a drink.
  • My favorite approach to keeping the pups cool is the ice pack rolled up in their bandannas. I use the soft, pliable, frozen packs and roll them up in a bandanna. Then tie this around their neck to help keep them cool on a hot walk. This is a great tool for summer dog park visits, as well. You can also buy these in various forms. Just hit the link above.
  • Besides keeping the water bowl full, ice cubes and other frozen dog treats can be a fun and welcome nibble after a hot walk. Check out your grocer's freezer area for the available frozen dog treats, or try making some of your own. One tip: Be careful where you give them this goodie, to avoid staining carpet or floors. 
  • If your dog is not much for eating ice cubes or frozen treats, he may enjoy the cooling effect that the ice cubes have on his water. Dump a handful in his water bowl after a walk and watch him lap up the whole bowl.
  • If your dog is an outside dog, the summer heat is of particular concern. You'll want to create a few ways for him to keep well-hydrated: an extra large water bowl--enough to last all day--should be placed in the shade on a raised platform to help keep ants and other ground insects out. Before you leave for the day, drop a pitcherful of icecubes in it to help keep it cool. Also, placing a kiddie pool full of water in a shady area, will provide your pup with a welcome place to cool down, when the temperature rises.
  • Finally, all outdoor dogs need plenty of shady spots to get out of the sun. While they may choose a shady area to dig a hole in the dirt for a cooling nap, you can provide a cleaner way for him to stay cool. Depending on your geography and yard layout, you could pick from some of these choices: a dog house with cross ventilation that is placed in the shade, a shade canopy, carport, or even a large shade tree can be the perfect, cooling spot for your dog's heat-of-the-day hideaway. If possible, consider a cooling mat, available from many pet stores or online.
Image courtesy of Amazon
Cooling Mats
 are Great for Outdoor Dogs
One bonus idea before I go. I have a couple of battery-operated 10" fans that will go anywhere. I picked them up at my local discount store; well worth the cost. You can also pick them up at the link above. They have hooks on them to allow for hanging on a dog crate, and include a built-in stand, as well. Using rechargeable batteries, they run for hours without needing a recharge. Perhaps your outdoor Fido might enjoy a cool breeze, if you have an appropriate place to put the fan, out of the risk of rain.
Whatever strategies you employ to keep your pup cool for the summer, you'll be gaining his trust and respect. Every time you offer him your respect and loving care, you'll get it in spades in return. Stay cool!
Protect our precious dog parks
© Carrie Boyko, all rights reserved

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Dog Crates said...

Great article, I really like tanner, I have a golden retriever Lily myself. Keep up the good work!

Carrie, with Tanner and Oliver said...

Tanner would love to meet Lily. He has a Labrador friend named Lily that he enjoys playing with at the dog park. They love the water. What better way to keep cool?!

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