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9 Tips for Keeping Your Dog Cool This Summer

I live in Florida, and the summertime heat is serious business -- here's what I do to make sure my babies don't overheat.

Claire Lower  |  May 5th 2014

The weather is warming, which means I will be spending less and less time outside. I don’t like being hot. I don’t like “getting some sun.” I’ll go to the beach maybe once this entire summer.

Mostly, I’ll be staying inside my air-conditioned home, slathering on sunscreen in preparation for those moments that I have to go out, for food or something. Some days, I won’t leave at all.

But my canine babies do not share my love for holing up for months. Though they aren’t huge fans of being out for long periods of time, they like to go out at least three or four times a day. They have to go out to “do their business,” but they also like to lie in sunny spots and wander around, sniffing the air and chasing squirrels. Sometimes the odds are in their favor and they find something rotting in the grass and they celebrate by rolling around in the decay, matting their fur with the foul substance. Delightful creatures, they are.

When they come back inside, they are tired, stinky, and hot. I worry most about the last bit. Since I live in Florida, the summertime heat is serious business. It does not mess around and requires CONSTANT VIGILANCE on my part to make sure the poor things don’t overheat. I mean, they have to wear a fur coat no matter the season and can only sweat out of areas not covered by fur. “Ruff” indeed.

I’m sorry. That pun was terrible and I am very sorry. Anyway. This is a list of ways I keep them cool:

1. Water (duh)

First and foremost, keep your dog hydrated. This is pretty obvious, but my pets go through water quickly in the summer, so I have to keep an eye on the water bowl at all times and refill as necessary. On particularly hot days, I’ll add some ice cubes to the bowl.

2. Kiddie pool for the furry kids

Angie has no time for water (unless she is drinking it), but Kira is all about splashing around. If your dog is more of a Kira than an Angie, I recommend getting one of those cheap, plastic, child-sized pools for them to wade or lie in. Not only are you cooling them off, you could even sneak in a secret bath!

“What? No. This isn’t a bath! This is playtime!” your dog screams. “See how you’re not in a tub? This is a completely different thing!”

Then the shampoo comes …

3. Use evaporation to your advantage

The whole point of sweating is evaporation. You sweat, it evaporates, and with it goes heat. It’s physics.

It’s a cruel trick on our four-legged friends that they can only sweat through an extremely small percentage of their body. Given that they have less area to work with, it would be nice if the heat could evaporate faster, no?

Isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol) has a much lower boiling point than water and thus evaporates much more quickly. If you suspect that your dog needs some help lowering his or her body temperature, give those paws a swipe with a cotton ball soaked in rubbing alcohol.

Don’t overdo it though; alcohol can get a little drying.

4. Treats!

My dogs love eating more than anything else on this earth. I use this love of food to my advantage by feeding them treats that are cool, high in water content or both.

Dog ice cream is found in pretty much every grocery store, but if you like you can make your own. Frozen broth popsicles are another easy frozen treat your dog will love; also, chilled cucumber is a no-prep option that is full of water.

You could also treat them to a cool, refreshing, smoothie! A great option, if I do say so myself.

5. Cool that tummy

A few summers ago, I noticed that Kira would sprawl out on the cool tile floor every once in a while. She seemed pretty happy about it, so I figured she was on to something.

One night it was oppressively hot, to the point that I couldn’t sleep. I stole Kira’s idea and plopped down on the bathroom tile and was amazed by how quickly I cooled down.

Dogs are way smarter than us sometimes.

If you don’t have cool flooring or your dog is outside, you can apply this principal by soaking a towel in cold water and letting your dog lie on that. Speaking from experience, I guarantee it will make a huge difference.

6. Gotta get the gear!

We basically live in the future (sans hoverboards, but I guess we can’t have everything). There is a gadget and a gizmo for almost every problem we face.

For the whole “it is way too hot for man or beast out here” problem, there are cooling collars, vests, and beds. There are even little boots to protect your dog’s little feet from the hot pavement.

7. Made in the shade

No, I’m not referring to the 1975 compilation album released by the Rolling Stones (though it’s not the worst compilation they ever released); I’m referring to creating a shady oasis for your favorite canine.

If your dog is outside, make sure there is somewhere he can go to take shelter from the sun’s terrible rays. Set up a little tent or umbrella. Set it up next to the kiddie pool and serve your pet tropical smoothies for a staycation vibe.

8. Proper Grooming is Important

Kira has a thick, dark coat that will not quit. Though clipping double-coated dogs won’t help keep them cool (the top “guard hairs” actually act as insulation against the heat and sunburn), keeping your pup properly groomed will. The undercoat is actually part of a dog’s natural cooling system, but if not properly maintained it can become matted and prevent air flow across your dogs skin. Frequent brushing helps remove and “dead” fur and keeps your pets coat healthy and comfortable.

9. Don’t be dumb

In addition to all the great things you can do, there are some things you should never do, especially when the weather heats up.

Don’t leave your dog in a car, don’t tie them up in the sun, don’t walk them during the hottest part of the day, and don’t walk them on the hot asphalt. Prevention is always easier than dealing with a crisis later.

How do you keep you pets from overheating in the summer? Do you stay inside as much as possible? Share your tips in the comments below!

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