by Samantha Grant, Pet Specialty Expert & Retail Associate
The days are noticeably longer, which means summer has swiftly approached. We’re all thinking about vacations and tan lines, but if you have a dog, now is also the time to be thinking about steps you can take to help your pooch keep cool in the dog days of summer.
While everyone knows a hot car is no place for a pet, one of the most significant, yet underrated threats to a dog’s well-being is pavement. Asphalt and concrete are typically much hotter than the surrounding air temperature. A comfortable 75-degree day means that the asphalt your dog’s bare paws are touching is over 120 degrees! A good way to tell if a surface is safe for your dog is to place your own hands, palm down, against the ground for 5 seconds. If that’s uncomfortable for you, the ground is too hot for your dog. Also, realize that asphalt especially stays warm for hours, even after the heat of the day has passed. Try to take your longest walks early in the morning or late in the evening. However, if you still need to take your pup for a walk in the hotter parts of the day, try to get him or her to “do their business” in a shady spot close to home, or consider purchasing protective socks or booties to spare them burns or blisters.
Don’t forget the sunscreen! You hear it all the time – from doctors to newscasters – sunburns and skin cancer are on the rise, and sunscreen, applied frequently, is a great defense against these preventable conditions. You may even already be putting sunscreen on your dog’s nose and face, but be careful! Human sunblock is not safe for dogs – even those labeled for babies. Your best defense is to use a sunblock designed just for animals. I personally use My Pony Sunblock for faces, and Healthy Hair Care brand Sunflower Suncoat for the body. My Dog Nose It is also a great travel-size sunblock for dogs.
Stay hydrated! No hot-weather excursion is safe without adequate water. Keeping a collapsible bowl with you is a great, but most pet stores now carry dog water bottles that allow you to freeze water or add ice cubes to keep your pet’s water cool. Many pet water bottles also come with features that allow you to keep unused water, rather than pouring out what your dog can’t finish. One of my favorites is the Dog Is Good canteen with a ball and nipple (like a mouse or rabbit water bottle). Dogs adapt to these kinds of bottles easily, and the high-quality stainless steel water bottles are easy to use, stay cooler longer, and are top-rack dishwasher safe.
Cooling pads, vests, and bandannas are great for dogs who have an especially difficult time cooling themselves by panting alone, such as elderly or ill dogs, short-faced breeds, or heavy-coated breeds. Some cooling products require a soak, other use ice or gel – be sure to pick the product that best suits your pup and lifestyle. Because this category covers so many different types of items, your best bet is to visit a local independent pet retailer. Chances are you’ll be able to talk with a knowledgeable salesperson who can help you identify and fit the right kind of cooling product for your dog.
Summer is a time of fun and adventure. Stay safe and enjoy all this season has to offer!