The Hot Dog Blog
Dog Days of Summer
What should you do with your dog on a hot day? If you live in an environment that has extreme temperatures or seasonal heat, finding a way to exercise—or even something as simple as a walk, can be a challenge. I am constantly thinking of options for activities when being outdoors is limited by the environment. The first thing I do is check the outdoor temperature and, equally important, the humidity level.
When is it too hot to walk your dog? All dogs are different; it depends on your specific animal and their breed. With lots of water, air circulation, and shade, most pets will be fine in temperatures up to 90 degrees. The combination of heat and humidity is the deciding force.
Dogs don't sweat, they cool off by panting. Be aware of excess panting, lack of energy or enthusiasm and rising humidity levels. When humidity is too high, dogs are unable to cool themselves and their temperature will skyrocket very quickly. Once a dog’s temperature goes above 103 degrees, they are in danger of overheating. If you need to quickly drop your dog’s body temperature, do not put them into cold water. The drastic change in temperature is too stressful on a dog’s system and could potentially be fatal. Instead, immerse your pet in lukewarm water to slowly regulate its temperature. You can also rub your dog’s ears (inside and out) and footpads with alcohol. It quickly cools them down by 5-20 degrees.
When is it too hot for your dog’s paws? Dog paws are like human feet. They are just as sensitive and likely to burn walking on a hot surface. Veterinarians advise owners to place the back of their hand on the surface for seven seconds. If you struggle to hold it down, it’s too hot for your dog. On days like this, I stay away from the beach too—hot sand is like hot pavement. I go to a dog park with lots of dirt and grass.
Having fun with your dog may mean staying indoors in an air-conditioned room. Your dog will be comfortable, but staying indoors is not practical in an extended heat wave. Depending on where you live, you can take your dog shopping to places like Home Depot, Nordstrom, TJ Maxx, Lowes, Barnes and Noble, Petco, Macy’s, and Bass Pro Shops, just to name a few. Numerous breweries and pubs allow for pets, and more and more outdoor dining spots are allowing four-legged friends. If that’s not an option, a hike and a picnic can offer the same results. It takes some planning to bring your dog along, but you’ll have a happy dog.
Water is always fun. For quick relief, mist your dog all over with a spray bottle of cool water. Take your dog swimming in a pool or purchase a kiddie pool for them. I like to set up a hose or sprinkler on the lawn and let the boys go crazy chasing the water. Many beaches and parks have pet friendly areas for swimming and fetching. Water plus the shade in your yard or at a park will help to cool your pup.
Please remember that many of these activities require transportation. Be extremely cautious with your pet in the car. Never leave them unattended, even for a moment. The car can get extremely hot and become life threatening for your dog in a matter of minutes. Always carry a dish and plenty of fresh water for you and your dog.
Cooling jackets are a popular option for keeping your dog comfortable. RUFFWEAR makes two types of cooling vests, and I love their products. They’re well-constructed, last forever and help the environment. If a cooling jacket is not in your budget, wet towels can have the same cooling effect.
Freezing treats, like a puzzle toy with peanut butter or a bone from the butcher, are very refreshing on a hot day. Many dogs enjoy something as simple as ice cubes in water. My go-to dog treat on a really hot day is a Pupsicle. I created the recipe as an extra cold treat for Fergus and Brodie. Make sure to give these to your dog outdoors or in a place where the melting fruit will not make a mess.
½ cup frozen fruit
½ cup bananas
½ cup peanut butter
1 tablespoon yogurt
- Put all ingredients into blender and combine
- Pour mixture into ice cube trays and freeze
Note: Only use peanut butter with no sweetener and no salt.
(Xylitol is used as a sweetener in peanut butter and can have fatal results)
All these activities take a certain amount of planning on your part. With a little effort you can take an unbearably hot day and make it a rewarding experience for you and your dog.