If you have furry, four-legged tail-waggers like I do, you probably know how much they love being outside. They wiggle and whine until you let them out, they race around the yard, wiggle and whine until you let them in, and repeat. That’s basically what a day off looks like in my house. Oh and numerous, “No bark!” commands yelled when a dog, human, cat or mailman dares wander near our yard.
Another favorite of my dog’s and mine is summer. Oh, summer, those warm, sunny days that seem to last forever and also, never long enough. One of my dogs is a serial sunbather, inside, outside, anywhere. He’ll find a sliver of a sun ray and nap peacefully until it’s disappeared (or until he hears a UPS truck — how DARE you drive down the street!).
We humans know when we’re too hot and it’s time to retreat indoors and grab a glass of water. But are we paying close enough attention to our pets? Animals can get overheated just like us so it’s important to make sure we are keeping an eye on them and practicing some good, basic safety tips to keep them safe.
1. Supply sufficient shade and water outdoors.
If your dog is going to be outside for any period of time, make sure he has plenty of water to drink and a nice, shady spot somewhere in the yard to cool off. My yard has near-zero shade. We planted a tree a few years ago, which helps, but isn’t enough to keep the yard cool. If you don’t have enough shade in your yard, don’t leave your dogs out for an extended period of time.
2. Remember, dogs are covered in hair.
I have a Siberian husky. Her favorite weather is a frigid, snowy day in January. My heart melts over seeing her delight when she realized it snowed overnight. But she loves being outside in summer as well. One thing I’m often asked is when or if I’ll shave her. While shaving her would certainly help with the tumbleweeds of dog hair I clean up each week, it wouldn’t be good for her health. Certain breeds have what’s called a double coat. They have a soft undercoat beneath their coarser upper coat. They completely blow the undercoat multiple times a year, which is why I’ve come to accept that my house will never be clean for more than a few hours. The multiple-layered coat is an insulator. It keeps them warm in winter and cool in summer. If you shave their hair, they will likely overheat and can get sunburn. Sorry, you’ll have to deal with the excessive hair. I would recommend a Furminator comb! That said, if you don’t have a dog with a double coat, feel free to shave away!
3. Cement and asphalt are hot.
Dog paws are pretty tough, but they aren’t indestructible. We often forget that we need to watch out for things that can harm our dog’s paws. Cement and asphalt can get quite hot in summer. I once read that if you can’t comfortably walk across the surface barefoot, your dog shouldn’t either. A quick walk probably won’t harm them, but prolonged exposure can cause their pads to burn. Ouch!
4. Keep walks short and wet.
Limit walks to cooler temperatures, like mornings or evenings. Don’t overexert your dog. They will probably walk beside you for as long as you want without being able to tell you they’re too hot. If you’re going to be gone awhile, take water. Dogs get thirsty and dehydrated just like us.
5. Dogs and cars don’t mix.
This is one we all know well I hope! We know cars get hot quickly in the sun. If it’s too hot for you to sit in safely, it’s too hot for your pets. If you can’t take them into the store with you, leave them at home. Don’t leave them in your car. Enough said.
6. Baby pools.
This is an easy one. I bought a baby pool for my husky because she loves water! It’s a fun way for them to play and keep cool in the summer heat. The best part is it’ll only cost around $10 and you can use it for summers to come (if your dog doesn’t scratch holes in it thinking the fish printed on the bottom are real).
What fun summer activities do you love to do with your dog? Here are some other great tips from The Humane Society. —Katie