Help your dog beat the heat

by Andy Bryenton

Dogs are man’s best friend, but the hot sun is not too friendly for them. While we humans enjoy the balmy days of summer, dogs — with their inability to regulate their temperature as effectively as us — can be left feeling uncomfortable — too much heat, and there’s a real danger that your dog will suffer from heat stroke. Nevertheless, there are plenty of ways to make sure summer is a fun time for your four-legged friend, instead of a time to hide away from.

It’s a myth that dogs don’t sweat at all in the summer — amazingly, however, their only area of thermal regulation is on their feet. We all know how they deal with the rest — a panting dog with his tongue out is synonymous with sunny days. Of course, dogs with long or fluffy coats, dogs who are overweight, and breeds with flatter faces (think British bulldogs, pugs and boxers) have a harder time panting and thus regulating their temperature than dogs with a classical long muzzle, short hair and a trim build.

All dogs love to run and play, and taking a walk is likely the highlight of both their day and yours. Just like you, however, dogs feel the burn when exercising in the sun. Try to time walks earlier or later in the cool of the day. Bring a collapsible dish or ice cream container and a bottle of water for your dog, and if they want to relax for a while, lower the pace or stop to sit.

At home, water is the key to a happy summer. Offer a rigid plastic paddling pool for wading, treat your pup with a garden sprinkler in the heat of the day, and prepare double dishes of water. One of these dishes should be a frozen lump of ice — freeze an entire ice cream container full and leave it out to thaw. As it does, so it will provide a day of cool drinks. Similarly, you can freeze segments of ‘dog log’ pet food to make canine popsicles, which will be well received by your pet.

Remember to provide plenty of shade, and never, ever leave your dog in a hot car during summer. If both of you are really feeling the heat, find a local dog-friendly beach and hit the waves!