Because dogs sweat only through their footpads and noses, they do not release excess body heat as efficiently as people, who sweat through their skin. That’s why it’s especially important to make sure your dog stays comfortably — and safely — cool as temperatures climb through the summer months. Check out these easy tips and product ideas for doing just that.
- Fill a large, freezer-safe bowl (such as one made of stainless steel) halfway with water and stash it in the freezer. Once it’s frozen, add more water. The solidified water at the bottom will serve as a long-lasting ice cube, keeping the drinking water cooler longer.
- You know how some people like frozen candy bars? With that in mind, keep some dog treats in the freezer — biscuits and the like that will not be too hard on your dog’s teeth. They will make for good warm-weather snacks.
- Put a clean towel in the freezer before you take your dog for a walk. It will be a quick cooling mat for him when you return indoors from the steaming sun.
- Shutting the air conditioner when away from the house may save some money on your electric bill, but if you leave your dog home it comes at a steep price — your pet’s health and wellbeing. Your pet can no better tolerate a house heating to 80-something degrees or higher on a summer day than you can. Leave on the AC.
- A fan can help speed up recovery from overheating and simply feels good to your dog, lifting individual hairs so that the circulating air can reach down to his skin.
These items, please!
- A cooling vest will help keep down your dog’s body temperature while raising his comfort level when out for a walk. Some are activated by wetting in cool water and then wringing out excess water, while others provide pockets for cooling packs. One we like is Ruffwear’s Swamp Cooler Evaporative Dog Cooling Vest. It needs only to be wetted, wrung out, and placed on your dog for instant cooling and circulation. Comes in sizes xx-small (13 to 17 inches) to x-large (36 to 42 inches) in light gray with reflective aqua trim for $59.95 on amazon.com, orvis.com, ruffwear.com and other sites.
- Bandanas are also a quick means of staying cool outdoors, offering less protection than a cooling vest because of their smaller size but nonetheless helping to keep down body temperature. Activate by soaking in cold water, wringing out, and then placing it around your dog’s neck. All for Paws Chill Out Dog Bandana can be fastened with Velcro around your dog’s neck and hand washed with soap and water for upkeep. Comes in sizes small to large in a rippling water pattern from $9.40 to $18.81 on amazon.com.
- If you don’t want to go the towel-in-the-freezer route, you can purchase a water- or gel-filled cooling mat that works quickly to take down your dog’s temperature. The Arf Pets Self-Cooling Mat Pad, a self-charging gel-filled mat that lasts for 3 hours, even recharges on its own. Comes in sizes 23 inches by 35 inches and 27 inches by 43 inches with a washable vinyl cover for $11.95 to $12.50 on amazon.com.
- Raised mesh beds are another way to release body heat more quickly, with no padding to hold in the warmth generated by your dog. K9 Ballistics Chew Proof Elevated Dog Bed comes preassembled from small (29 inches by 18 inches by 3.5 inches) to giant (50 inches by 33 inches by 7 inches) in black, snow camouflage, blue, and tan. Cost ranges from $129 to $169 on amazon.com and k9ballistics.com.
- Foot coverings are not just for cold weather. If you’re planning beach time with your dog — or a walk on brutally hot pavement is inescapable — boots can protect your pet’s paws against scalding. Ruffwear Grip Trex Dog Boots have breathable upper mesh to help heat escape from your dog’s paws while also providing an outsole made of Vibram used for human running shoes. They are machine washable and come in widths from 1.5 inches to 3.5 inches in blue, black, or red. Cost for two boots (a dog may have different-width paws on the front and back) is $37.50 on amazon.com and ruffwear.com.