Summer has finally arrived! With warmer temperatures, you might be looking forward to having more outdoor fun adventures alongside your dog. But, as a pet parent, it’s crucial to know that hot weather for dogs is often unbearable. During those hot days, it’s important that we keep our dogs safe from overheating. They don’t have the same cooling system that our bodies have. This means they can only expel heat by panting or sweating through the pads of their paws. Not to mention, they are also covered in fur which doesn’t help. So, how can we make sure our dogs are safe but still have fun with them? Read on to find out some hot weather activities for dogs and the ways to keep your dog cool this summer…
How do I know if it’s too hot to walk?
Depending on their breed and age, this will vary per individual dog. However, as the temperatures rise towards (and above) 20 degrees, it’s worth thinking about doing the hand or foot test. This is one of our top summer safety tip for dogs where you place your own bare hand or foot onto the pavement outside. If you can’t comfortably keep your hand there for more than a few seconds, then it’s definitely too warm to walk your dog.
Hot weather for dogs can be a struggle for some more than others. Some dogs – especially brachycephalic breeds (such as pugs), those with darker coats, or those that are low to the ground – may struggle even at lower temperatures. Watch your dog and if they show signs of panting or lethargy, it’s best to stay at home in the cool. It’s also important to be aware of the signs of heatstroke so you can get your dog immediately to the vets should you be concerned.
The best walks for hot days
Starting your walks early or late in the day is the most sensible way to enjoy walks during hotter days. Think pre-8am and post-8pm. Choose locations with shade, where the floor will be cooler as well as blocking direct sunlight. These spaces are ideal for enjoyable walks and keeping dogs cool in summer. Woods with streams running through them are the best locations for hot day walks.
Leave any balls or toys at home on warm days. Not only does chasing these get your dog hot, but holding them in their mouth restricts their ability to pant. And in turn, lower their own body temperature to cool down.
Focusing on a slower pace of walk by encouraging sniffing is a great way to keep your dog cool too. Either take them to woods or fields with lots of lovely smells or scatter small pieces of food in long grass. This will allow them to slow down and sniff.
If your dog loves water, providing them with a cool paddling pool to splash around in your garden can be a great way to keep their temperature down. Just make sure it’s placed in a shaded part of your garden and check the temperature of the water regularly. It’s also important to avoid a hot dog getting straight into very cold water as this could shock their system.
You could even combine their paddling pool with some training. This could be teaching them to hop in and out of the pool on cue or to lie down in it for a full-body soaking. And you can enjoy the cool water too – but remember you might end up with a wet dog sitting on top of you in there!
Keeping your dogs indoors during the hotter parts of the day is the best way to avoid heatstroke. While they may well want to snooze the day away when it’s very hot, there are some great activities they can enjoy if they have the energy to do so.
- Hide and Seek can be played either by you – their human – hiding from your dog and calling them to come and find you. Or by placing some tasty bits of food or their favourite toy in safe places around your living room and then asking your dog to find them.
- Trick training is a great activity for keeping dogs cool in summer whilst tiring them out! Using their brain is double the effort of using only their body. So, a ten-minute training session will be a great way to expel some of their energy. If you’re looking for ideas as to what to teach your dog, check out our recent Trick Training video for inspiration!
- Sniffing doesn’t only have to happen outdoors! You can use a snuffle mat or even a rolled-up towel to hide treats within your cool home. Sniffing is a great way to exercise your dog’s body and mind, while creating lots of feel good hormones. And what’s not to love?!
- Sleep! As we mentioned, your dog will sleep more on warmer days. The same way the heat can tire us out, hot weather for dogs does exactly the same. During the middle part of the day especially, allow your dog to catch up on some all important-rest. If you’re worried they are still too warm indoors, why not invest in a cooling water bed?
Making treats for your dogs is something that the whole family can get involved in. You could stuff a safe food toy with a yummy combination of healthy foods and freeze these for your dog. These could include natural yoghurt and mixed berries. If very cold foods upset their tummy, then remove it from the freezer 20 minutes before presenting it to your dog.
Looking for another way to keep your dog cool whilst boosting their “5 a day”? Why not try cold slices of cucumber, apple or watermelon? All of these are known to be cooling “yin” foods in Chinese medicine.
You could also utilise ice cube trays to make some natural cooling treats for your dogs. For example, by pureeing dog-friendly fruits or vegetables, or adding the cooking water from some boiled low-fat meats alongside some of their favourite treats.
What are some of your favourite hot weather activities for dogs you both enjoy? Let us know your fun ideas and tips for keeping dogs cool in summer in the comments below.
Written by Caroline Wilkinson, Certified Animal Behaviourist & qualified dog trainer
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