Keeping your dog cool during the hot summer months and the early days of fall is very important. Dogs that are primarily “outdoor” dogs need considerations for their environment to keep them healthy and comfortable. Here’s a list of ideas and tips you should think about if your dog is an “outdoor” dog or spends a good part of his or her day in the heat.
Place Dog House under Shade
It’s critical that a dog have access to protection (dog house or covered kennel) during all seasons, but especially during extreme heat or cold. A roof will protect him from rain, snow, and excessive summertime heat and sun. However, even with a roof, it’s necessary that the dog house stay cool. As such, the house should be well ventilated with vents near the top and on the top of the roof.
Additionally, the dog house should not rest directly on the ground. Instead, plan on leaving several inches of space between the ground and the bottom of the dog house by building a platform. This will allow air to flow more freely underneath the house. My husband’s grandfather actually built his beagles a plank to get into their house which was about 18 inches off the ground. The height was to protect them from rain or snow gathering on the ground.
If you do not have a tree(s) for adequate shade coverage for the entire day, you can purchase a heavy duty tarp that can be positioned over a dog’s house or on top of a fenced kennel. Having a tarp and/or tree shade will also prevent your dog from becoming sun burnt.
Fresh Cool Water is a Must!
Dogs must have access to fresh, clean and cool water especially during the summer months. Water will quickly heat up in the summer sun so it will be necessary to change your dog’s water often. Make sure the dog’s water bowl has a heavy base so that it does not tip over easily. Many dogs will insert their paws in their water bowls in order to cool them off and accidentally knock their water over.
Nifty Products That Keep Dogs Cool
Cooling mats for dogs are filled with polymer crystals that are soaked in water. The water-soaked crystals keep the mat cool and also provide a nice cushion.
Another nice product is micro-bead products that dogs can wear such as bandannas or belly wraps. These items should be soaked in cool water, wrung out, and then placed on your dog. A word of caution though – you may want to supervise your dog when he wears items for his protection.
There are also above ground dog beds that help by keeping dogs off the warm ground in summer and the cool ground in colder weather.
Shave Your Dog if it’s the Right Breed
Many are tempted to shave their dog or drastically cut their fur in order to keep him or her cool. However, some breeds are extremely susceptible to sunburn and shaving them is obviously not a wise choice.
Once cut and/or shaved, some dog breed’s natural coats never quite grow back in and look the way nature intended. This might be a concern if you have a show dog.
Never Leave a Pet in a Hot Car
Unfortunately, leaving a pet in a car on a hot day is practically a death sentence. Even leaving windows cracked or open won’t help. If your dog suffers heatstroke, he or she can end up with brain damage, heart failure and in some cases, death. The inside of a car can reach as high as 40 degrees hotter than outside the car within an hour! Remember to report other owners if you see dogs trapped in their cars.