Here in the Southern California sunshine, we pet-parents have perfected a dozen ways to beat the heat during the summer months. However, we might not have thought about how heat affects our fur-kids. While most animals are better prepared than humans to handle the elements, the opposite is often true for the dogs living in hot, suburban backyards.
Handling the Heat
Dogs handle heat differently than people do in several ways. Dogs’ coats are designed to help insulate their bodies from heat by protecting the skin from direct sunlight and allowing air to flow through the hair to help cool the skin. While it might be tempting to shave your fluffy dog during the summer, they are actually being protected from the sun by that thick coat. A better way to help your dog stay cool is daily brushing during the summer months as it detangles the hair and allows better airflow through the coat. That being said, coat insulation only protects your dog minimally from the heat and won’t be enough to keep them safe in extreme heat conditions.
Unlike us, dogs only sweat through their nose and paw pads and they rely on panting to release heat from their body. This is not a very effective way to quickly lower body temperature (especially for very short-snouted breeds) and dogs rely on their ability to find shady, cool areas on hot days. This becomes problematic when pet-parents forget to provide their dogs with an area for them to cool down. If your pup is outside, take time to make sure that they have access to shade throughout the day as the sun moves. Placing tile in a shady area can give them a cool surface to lay on to help regulate body temperature.
Hydration is Crucial
Access to cool, fresh water is incredibly important as they dehydrate quickly by panting, especially in the heat of summer. Does our dog sometimes need a reminder to drink? Adding a few ice cubes to the bowl will not only keep the water cooler for longer but can also serve as stimulation and intrigue. Ice cubes in general, make great hydrating chews for outdoor fun. Additionally, you can add nutritious liquids like bone broth and/or goat milk to their daily meals for increased hydration and nutrition.
Primal Bone Broth: A hydrating, wholesome addition to any diet plus beneficial nutrients to support joint health, digestion, and liver health. Suitable for dogs or cats, Primal's Bone Broths are available in 20 oz easy-pour resealable pouches.
- Provides vital moisture to your pet's diet
- Gelatin aids the intestines and helps maintain a healthy gut
- Organic turmeric serves as a natural anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and detoxifier herb
Primal Goat Milk: A nutrient-rich hydration option that’s packed with vitamins, minerals, electrolytes, and more! Great for both dogs or cats, Primal's Original Raw Goat Milk is available in 16 oz, 32 oz, and 64 oz resealable bottles.
- Blend of 3 beneficial microorganisms deliver 5 billion CFUs per ounce
- Added probiotics for digestive support
- Excellent source of moisture
- Sourced from certified humanely raised goats
Car or Oven?
Many pet-parents are tempted to bring the dog with them in the summertime, but this can lead to more dangerous situations. Leaving your dog in the car to run a quick errand can be deadly. This is because the outside air temperature multiplies quickly inside a car, even with the windows cracked. While we might think that it’s fine to leave the dog in the car for a quick errand on a 75 degree day, the inside of that vehicle can jump 10 degrees in just five minutes, 29 degrees in 30 minutes, and 47 degrees in an hour! Cars quickly become ovens in sunlight and a single errand can be long enough to turn deadly for your pet. If a dog’s internal temperature reaches 104 degrees they go into heat stroke and require immediate action to help them cool down. An internal temperature of 106 degrees will cause permanent damage to a dogs system and organs. A dog that is nearing heat stroke or heat exhaustion will often pant heavily with thick saliva and have visibly dark gums and/or tongue. At this time, they may behave as if they're dizzy or disoriented and collapse or vomit. If you suspect that a dog may be suffering extreme heat, you can help lower their body temperature by placing cool, damp clothes on their chest and paw pads. Never use ice or ice water as the temperature could shock their system, just like with humans suffering from heat stroke. As the dog slowly cools down, offer them cool water to drink. If the dog is unable to drink or unresponsive, take them to a vet immediately!
Walking a dog in the heat can be equally dangerous. Dogs cannot sweat as freely as humans can and they quickly become dehydrated if they have to walk while panting heavily to release heat. Dogs are also directly exposed to the ground temperature through their paw pads. We walk with them in our shoes and often don’t consider how hot the pavement or trail is for our dogs. Black asphalt is particularly dangerous for dogs during the warmer months of summer. A sunny, 87 degree day can easily cause asphalt or pavement to reach 140 degrees! To test, place your hand flat on the ground and hold it there. If it’s too uncomfortably hot to hold for ten seconds, then it’s way too hot for your dog’s paws! Last but not least, ALWAYS bring plenty of drinking water on your dog's outdoor adventure regardless of distance. And in the summertime, try to only walk your pup in the early mornings or evenings to beat the heat.
Kahooligan Tip - Helping our dog(s) beat the heat is crucial, but it can also be enjoyable. Taking your dog out to a lake or dog beach in the evenings can be a fun and cooling outing! You can make your own simple frozen treats by putting canned dog food inside a Kong or puzzle ball and freezing it inside. Most dogs also love a rope or stuffy soaked in water and frozen as a fun and hydrating toy. Kahoots also offers specialty dog ice cream in six fun flavors!