Every dog has his day, and he may be having a lot of hot ones soon. Sunday, June 21 marks the first day of summer. It's the time of year when most of us (and our furry companions) spend more time outdoors. If you can't handle the heat, imagine what your fur-wearing friend feels like on hot, blistering days.
Did you know that dogs have a higher body temperature than humans? Their body temp averages between 101°F - 102.5°F. With this in mind, it's best to be dogged about keeping your canine companion cool during the dog days of summer. Here are seven helpful tips:
- Enjoy the water. When the temperature rises, take your dog for a dip in a pool, ocean or lake. Visit the beach or lake early in the morning or late in the afternoon. Try to avoid the hottest part of the day. If you don't live near a body of water, purchase a kiddie pool or break out the water hose or sprinkler and let your four-legged friend run wild and free in your backyard.
- Go for a ride. Most dogs love to ride in the car with the windows or top down. Let him take in the sights and smells while his ears flap in the wind.
- Break out the treats. Frozen treats are sure to make your dog happy and keep him cool during the summer months. Get creative and make your own treats at home. Try this simple recipe: 4 cups plain, low-fat yogurt, 2 tablespoons peanut butter, 3 ripe bananas, peeled and mashed. Puree all ingredients in a blender or food processor. Pour into ice cube trays and freeze until firm. No doggie bags will be necessary because he'll lap up every last bite.
- Create a cooling pad. One way dogs sweat is through their paw pads. To cool your pup down, wet a towel with cool water and let him stand or lie on it. Create a breeze by setting a fan in front of him. Keep plenty of fresh clean water nearby at all times.
- Protect the skin. Just like humans, dogs can also get too much sun. If they are outside for too long, they can get red skin that is tender to the touch. The most susceptible areas are the nose, ears and tummy. To soothe sunburned skin, give your dog an oatmeal bath, using lukewarm water and rolled oats ground into a powder (a coffee grinder, blender or food processor works fine). Add a few drops of neem oil to help heal his burns or apply an aloe vera gel for cooling relief.
- Nurse summertime sores. Imagine stepping barefoot onto the hot pavement. It's important to remember that your dog's paws feel heat extremes, too. Avoid walking your dog on hot pavement or sand or invest in a pair of booties to keep the heat from burning your dog's paws. Keep your eye out for blisters, loose flaps of skin, and red, ulcerated patches. For minor burns, apply antibacterial wash and cover the paw with a loose bandage. For serious burns, visit your vet immediately.
- Get back to nature. You won't be barking up the wrong tree if you take your pooch on a nature walk. The trees will provide shade to help keep his body temperature down. Always remember to pack a travel water bowl and some snacks. Nature and all its glory will offer lots of interesting sights and smells to keep your companion busy along the way and the fresh air will do you good.