Keeping Your Dog Safe and Happy in the Summer Heat

As first seen on the Bedford-Katonah Patch

As the temperatures continue to inch upward, my dogs spend most of their time wandering from the deep shade beside the training studio to the enticing cool of the frog pond.

Balder, still young enough to muster some dramatic bursts of energy, expends most of it during our early morning romps. The rest of the day is spent sprawled next to Whoopsie, patiently waiting for the relief of sunset.

I don’t envy dogs during the summer. Trapped in fur coats without the ability to produce a cooling sheen of salty sweat, dogs pant to regulate body temperature. And while I’m not a huge fan of sweating, it certainly beats panting.

Checking the weather for the next few days, it looks like another weekend of sweating, panting and frog pond dipping…temps in the 90s and plenty of scorching sun. Here are a few tips to keep your fur-clad kids safe and comfortable during a summer heatwave.

Water Water Water
Dogs have a rough time keeping their body temperature in check. To help your dog stay comfortable, have water bowls available at all times and if possible fill a small kiddie pool for your dog or puppy to wade in. Hard plastic pools are best; your dog’s nails may pop an inflatable. Look for one with a drainage hole and refill the pool each day— it will double as a giant water dish, so keep it clean!

Air Conditioning
Humans are not the only ones who love air conditioning. For those blessed with central air, you may notice little change in your dog’s energy level or mood…until you take him outside. The heat will hit your dog like a ton of bricks and he’ll hurry through his routines in order to get back to his air conditioned den.

Not very wolf-like, but there you have it. The only downside to this uniquely modern doggy lifestyle is energy management. Indoors, it feels great and your dog wants to go, go, go. Outside, it’s stifling and he wants in, in, in.

Confined, restricted and a little bit bored, your dog may start to misbehave by barking or chewing. Older dogs may revisit puppyhood issues, becoming overstimulated when people come and go. Plan a few adventures to get you and your pampered pooch out of the house. Be sure to pick a place with plenty of shade and maybe a water feature. Take walks in the early morning or evening, after the pavement has cooled. Lay your hand on the surface to check the temperature.

Two keys please
All dogs love a car ride, mine included. I love taking them with me. They always jump in the front seat while I’m gone and they always take up the same seats: Balder drives, Whoopsie rides shotgun. For the past few weeks, however, I’ve had to sneak out of the house, carefully cupping the car keys to avoid the telltale jingle that screams “CAR RIDE!!!!”

Cars heat up shockingly fast. On an 85 degree day, your car can reach 125 degrees within 30 minutes. If you must bring your dog, carry an extra set of keys so that you can leave the air conditioning running while you’re gone. But be aware that this is not an entirely safe solution; dogs have been known to press the AC button while they roam around the interior. With the windows shut tight, the consequences can be disastrous. Leave your dog home whenever possible.

For more summer tips, including tips on pool safety, you can download my newsletter online. Have fun and stay cool—no matter how many paws you walk on!