Dogs might not sport flip flops to get from the hot sand to the ocean waves or to get across the blacktop of a steaming parking lot. But there is summer footwear for their tender soles as well as our own. There are also a number of other items meant to keep dogs safe and comfortable in the summer sun, many of them mimicking products we use to protect ourselves. Here are five of the most important ones.
Sunscreen. Does your dog have thin fur? A white face? Is he hairless? Then for sure he can burn. One solution is a light T-shirt, just like you would put on a child hanging around the pool or beach. But that doesn’t cover vulnerable areas of the face or head. For that reason, consider sunscreen, too — just not the kind you put on yourself. That might contain parabens, zinc oxide, and titanium oxide, all of which can potentially harm your pet if he ingests lotion from the tube or licks it after it has been applied to his nose or other parts of his skin.
Instead, err on the side of caution and purchase a sunscreen created specifically for your dog that is absent potentially harmful ingredients yet effective in keeping the nose, ears, and other vulnerable and exposed skin areas from the sun’s harmful rays. There are a number of good ones to choose from. One standout is Epi-Pen Sun Protector Spray, a waterproof sunscreen endorsed by the American Animal Hospital Association and approved for pets by the Food and Drug Administration. It has a pleasant scent and is non-greasy. Available in a 4.6-ounce spray bottle for $16 to $18 on chewy.com and amazon.com.
Note that some dogs require more sunscreen, on more areas of the body, than others. Talk to your vet about whether and where to apply it and how liberally.
Cooling vest. No matter how much your dog loves to get out for a walk, there are certain days that turn out to be not so enjoyable — or even safe — when the mercury soars. Brachycephalic dogs like pugs and bulldogs may have an even harder time than usual breathing in super-hot weather. One way to help make sure your dog’s time outdoors does not include struggling for air as he pants to release body heat is to fit him with a cooling vest.
They come in a variety of models. Some have ice-pack type features that you can make super-cold in the freezer and then insert into the vest before taking Fido outside. Another option, particularly if you are traveling and need the vest to be cool without the help of a freezer, is the Ruffwear Swamp Cooler. Made of lightweight air mesh material, it requires only a soaking in cold water followed by a wringing out. Your dog will be good to go.
Summer boots. Whether it’s a shimmering sidewalk (which can literally get hot enough in summer to fry an egg) or the brutal burn of beach sand, your dog’s paws need the same protection you afford your own feet in such weather. So if your pet spends any significant time walking on pavement where cooler grass can’t be reached quickly or comes with you to where the shore meets the ocean, summer booties are a must.
Boots that circulate air will be most comfortable in hot weather, including the HiPaw Breathable Dual Mesh Soft Sole Dog Boots Paw Protector for Summer. The shoes’ uppers are composed of a double-layer breathable mesh, with soft cloth around the rest of the boot and flexible cuffs at the top. The soles are non-slip and flexible — and suitable for wet weather, too. That is, you can leave the wet of your dog’s feet bottoms in the mudroom rather than have him traipse all through the house with it.
For the best sizing, trace all of your dog’s paws on a piece of paper, including his nails. The boots come in small (2.34 inches x 2.15 inches), medium (2.55 inches x 2.34 inches), large (2.75 inches x 2.55 inches), and extra-large (3.22 inches x 2.83 inches).Available on amazon.com from $11.99 to $12.99 for a four-pack, depending on color.
Cooling mat. Ahhhhh… That’s what your dog will say as he goes for the ready relief of a cooling mat, either in the house or poolside. A good one is Arf Pets Pet Dog Self Cooling Mat Pad for Kennels, Crates, and Beds. The cooling action of this portable, gel-infused mat begins as soon as your dog activates it by lying down on the pad, and it will last as long as three hours. Afterwards, the latex-free material can be easily wiped down, and the mat can be folded for easy storage or travel. Comes in 23 x 25 inches for $29.99 or 27 x 43 inches for $51.99 on amazon.com.
Pet stroller. Old dog? Puppy with energy to burn until he falls right to sleep? Pet dog who requires a lifting harness and whose outdoor time is mainly to relieve himself? Dog who tires or gets bored on walks more quickly than you do? If any of these describe your canine pal, why not baby your furry baby while allowing yourself to have an uninterrupted walk or jog by putting him in a pet stroller? He’ll be able to enjoy all the sights and sounds of summer with you (albeit not so much the scents on the ground) while beating the heat.
At first glance, dog strollers look much like baby strollers, except they’re soft all around for more comfort, with high protection on all four sides to keep your pet feeling secure. (Mesh windows allow for wide-scope viewing in addition to cross ventilation.) You can add comfort on an especially hot day with a cooling mat (described above).
How does the dog get in and out? Pet strollers have zippered access points for easy entry and departure.
One stroller with some very nice features is the VIVO Pet Stroller. It even has a mesh window on the “roof” so you can keep an eye on — and connect with — your dog while walking or jogging. There’s also a padded pushing handle for your own comfort and a basket at the bottom measuring 16 x 12 x 7 inches to store your keys, water bottle, and other effects. A center tray makes a good spot to store items like treats for your pet. There are even dual cup holders — one for you and one for your pal.
Side latches activate the stroller’s collapsible feature, and locks on the two back wheels keep the apparatus in a stationary position when you come across someone you want to chat with a bit or need to stop for a minute while jogging in the heat.
One limitation: the VIVO, which sells for about $55 on amazon.com and other sites, can only hold dogs weighing no more than 30 pounds. If you have a larger dog or two smaller ones, you may want to splurge on something like the HPZ Pet Rover Premium Heavy Duty Dog/Cat/Pet Stroller Travel Carriage with Convertible Compartment/Zipperless Entry/Reversible Handle Bar/Weather Resistance. An “Amazon’s Choice” product, meaning the company rates it highly and considers it well-priced, it offers a comfortable ride for dogs or dog pairs weighing up to 75 pounds. Features include a lightweight but heavy-duty frame, a feature to change the compartment’s size in order to give your dog(s) the best fit, and a large under-basket plus three small accessory bags and a bottle holder.
The top is a mesh cover with UV-reflective material, and the stroller also comes with two high-density fabric pads that are both stain-resistant and machine-washable. The whole thing folds quickly with a one-hand mechanism for easy storage. Available in three colors on amazon.com and other sites for about $180.
Bike “trailer.” While people who like to stroll or jog can use a stroller to take along a dog who can’t or doesn’t want to walk much, bikers can enjoy their own favorite outdoor pastime by investing in a bike trailer — or a stroller that can also function as a bicycle trailer with a simple adjustment. Such a gizmo lets your pet ride behind safely as you hit the bike trails (a better bet than busy streets, which might unnerve your pet and are not as safe as dedicated bike trails, either).
One example of the convertible type is the Aosom Elite II Pet Dog Bicycle Trailer Stroller Jogger with Suspension. The seat is pocketed to hold your pet better, and it comes with a high-flying flag attached to a button-hold slide-in fixture to make sure people see the trailer with its valuable cargo.
A suspension feature softens bumpy rides, while a safety leash secures your dog (up to 88 pounds) inside the carrier. The foldable stroller also has three entrances for ease of use and a front mesh door for ventilation along with a separate rain guard for inclement weather.
A hitch/coupler allows you to quickly shift from stroller to bike trailer use. Available on amazon.com and other sites for $115.99 to $148.19.