Hot Weather Doggy Hacks You Need to Know!
If your Dog’s Tongue is “too long” take Note!
I was sitting here just the other day, wondering what to write about (it isn’t always easy to come up with topics for twice weekly publishing) and I was thinking it wasn’t long ago that I was writing an article on cold weather dog hacks!
Who else has thought of throwing down a tarp the night before a snow storm so you can just peel it up the next day for your dog to have a path in the snow 😉
So I realized it was time for a hot weather dog hacks article!
First of all, most of this article will focus on the dangers of warm weather; but let’s talk about all the fun things first!
I have written a whole article on this, however it is probably one of my favorite doggy hacks.
Put a little bit of doggy shampoo in an unused miracle grow container and hook it to your hose for a fast, simple, and more effective dog wash! The water from the hose goes and mixes with your favorite dog shampoo and sprays evenly into your dog’s fur.
This alleviates clumping of shampoo in certain areas (like behind their shoulders or along the back where most people squeeze the shampoo) and it ensures that the whole body is covered in shampoo and/or conditioner.
I like Fresh and Clean (original) dog shampoo, because I have found that that good scent can last at least 2 weeks if I leave the shampoo on long enough and work it in well prior to the rinse. Who doesn’t want a sweet smelling dog for 2 weeks? But it will work with any shampoos, from prescription to flea!
I used to have to bathe one of my dogs with allergies every other day, and this tip saved time in not only the bath process but also clean up!
***hint, in winter I hook the hose to my faucet and I can still use this in the shower… I just have to clean up my bathroom in the winter!
Who doesn’t love a good frosty tasty treat in summer?!
Dogs are lactose intolerant, so although some dogs can eat milk products and have no tummy issues, some will get very sick if we give them things with milk or cream in them. If in doubt where your dog lands on that stomach chart, it is usually best to avoid lactose for your dog.
Instead you can make your dog his own frosty treat!
And, it is super simple!
If you use canned dog food at all, you can mix it with a little bit of water and pop it into some ice cube trays. I used to have a dog with allergies on prescription food, so I would simply add some water and freeze some prescription canned dog food, and he thought it was a special treat!
You can also take whatever protein you desire (chicken, liver, beef, venison) boil it, shred or chop it and then mix about 2 cups of water prior to freezing.
Remember that dogs don’t need *flavor accessories things that we put on our food to make them taste better like onions and/or garlic are not only bad for dogs; they don’t need them to make chicken taste better. Chicken (or whatever protein) already tastes great to them! And, some spices or additives are toxic (some nuts and things like nutmeg).
If I am adding something special to their treats, I stick with things already found in their food and other healthy products, like fish oil!
For a list of companies who provide doggy goodies; for instance did you know you could get your dog a treat from Starbucks? Puppucino! Click here for more!
Your Dog Doesn’t Want to…
I can’t express this enough!
If you were able to ask your dog and he could think about it rationally; he would tell you sometimes he just doesn’t want to go.
I don’t know how many times I have been to the beach (in GA where it gets to be 100+ degrees AND humid) and I have seen a poor dog panting and suffering while trying to cool himself; and I always hurt for the dog. Even if the dog is in the ocean, or lake 95% of the time or in the shade, he is still excruciatingly hot and miserable.
I also feel for dogs who are drug to things like fairs and parades during this kind of heat. Not only can these kinds of activities and noise be difficult for dogs to understand and tolerate (think overwhelming smells and noises like fireworks and drums) it is also typically too hot for them even in the shade.
Don’t believe me, throw on a fur coat, fur pants no shoes and head to the beach or the parade. You can get into the water, or under an umbrella; do you think you could get comfortably cool?
And, don’t think just because your dog is small and can fit in your purse that you can provide enough shade. Small dogs get just as hot as big dogs!
If it’s too hot, he’d rather stay at home.
If his feet are burning or will be in danger of burning through the day, he’d rather stay at home.
If he is going to hear loud noises like gunfire, fireworks, drums, loud music, or the constant smell of cooking food; he would probably rather stay home! Think he wants to go to that concert with you or the race track? Probably not!
Very few dogs actually like these things even in cool weather. Remember his nose and his ears are much more precise than yours and these things if they are not a normal occurrence for him are probably at the least extremely overwhelming, if not terrifying. And, remember, loud noises can physically hurt!
I understand that when you say “walk” or “ride” your dog always acts like he wants to go; but don’t punish him for not having the rational ability to think through everything you are asking of him. If you wouldn’t want to do it in a fur coat with no shoes, magnifying the sound and the smells.
Dogs can hear 40HZ to 60kHZ while humans can hear 12HZ to 20kHZ and dogs can hear about 4 times farther than we humans can. Think that cannon or band is loud for you? Imagine how painful it is for your dog’s ears.
And his sense of smell is 100 million times more sensitive than yours. I’ve had Service Dog candidates completely shut down in a place like Bath and Body works because their senses can’t handle the overwhelming smells.
For more on your dog vs your abilities click here.
Let’s Talk About the Heat
I assume my dogs like summer like I (being furless) enjoy the cold winter. I am pretty sure that baking in the heat is just as bad for them, as my skin burning when it is below zero.
And, I KNOW that my dogs much prefer playing in fall, winter, and spring far more than they do when it is hot. My dogs actually LOVE seeing the snow and playing in it. And, I am much less worried about doggy frost bite (because I don’t leave them outside unattended in the cold) than I am about doggy heat stroke.
The truth is that heat stroke kills more working/military dogs than anything except combat.
Dogs can’t radiate their heat like we can, our bodies sweat and cool themselves through our heat radiation and through our pores.
Dogs can only expel heat through their paw pads, and by panting.
And, radiation of heat through a cooler surface (like a cooling blanket or cooling vest or cool water) is more efficient than panting.
Dogs can blister and burn their paw pads.
As a Service Dog trainer for many, many years, I learned to take off my shoes and press my foot to the hot ground for a minute or two. If it was too hot for my feet, it was too hot for his feet!
I recently saw someone suggest pressing the topside of your hand to the ground, black top, sand, pavement etc for a minute or two and if it feels too hot then it is too hot for your dog. I suppose some people’s hands are more sensitive than their bare feet. Either is a good indication.
And, don’t just assume that your dog can walk on the grass in certain places. If he is going to have to be on hard pavement, black top, sand, or in the back of a car or pick up truck; make sure that they aren’t even hotter. Most of those surfaces soak up and multiply the heat.
Please save your dog’s feet!
Imagine burning all the skin off of your feet and then having to walk on them or walk through prickly grass.
Sound unbearable? It probably is!
Risks for Heat Injury (typically in weather 70 degrees or higher)
- Over work or play without time to cool
- Living in air conditioning makes it harder for a dog’s body to adjust
- Being over weight
- Over estimating your dog’s stamina or condition
- Medical or structural issues (dogs with short muzzles or those who can’t normally breathe well).
- Shade seeking behavior
- Slower return for play
- Loss of activity (a normally playful dog just wanting to lay down and pant)
- Drawing lips back into a smile type face to increase the amount of mouth and tongue showing to pant.
- Dark red tongue or gums
- Very pale gums and tongue
- Loss of consciousness
- ***Note heat stroke can cause permanent kidney damage, so even if your dog loses consciousness but you are able to revive him; he still needs to visit his vet afterward to make sure that he didn’t permanently damage his kidneys.
- Know the risks and avoid them
- LEAVE HIM HOME!!! If it is too hot, err on the side of caution and leave him home rather than risking his life.
- Cool the dog down, but don’t use COLD water. Room temperature water or slightly cool water will not shock his body. The longer he is hot, the more damage can be done; so cool him quickly.
- Always allow access to water. He doesn’t drink because he wants to drink he drinks when it is hot because his body NEEDS that water.
If you are walking or active
- Bring cool water
- Wait for sunrise or sunset when it is cooler
- Exercise near cool bodies of water so he can swim (remember if it has been in the 100s for many days chances are the water is no longer “cooling”)
- Utilize shade
- Look into cooling mats and cooling vests for AFTER exercise. Studies have shown that these don’t help prevent heat stroke while wearing them and exercising but they can help cool a dog after exercise
- Don’t let it get to a dangerous level.
One Last Crucial Note
I was at an event earlier this spring, I believe it was memorial day weekend, and a lovely couple had brought their Great Dane to an outdoor festival.
It was HOT, probably hotter than it was supposed to be for that weekend.
The couple didn’t notice their dog was in severe danger until it was too late.
He passed out.
And although everyone tried to cool him and he was able to come back to consciousness and looked better enough for an emergency vet visit; he died in transit.
He was a young dog, that was well loved. His people just didn’t know better until it was too late. I still feel terrible for their loss.
So before you take your dog out for that hot concert, or festival, or hike; ask yourself if you are prepared for canine heat stroke, or if it is worth your dog’s life.
Remember, if it is too hot, he would rather stay home in the air conditioning with a good toy or treat and wait for you to get home, and the sun to go down before he goes out to play!
I have been a professional dog trainer and pet sitter for over 20 years. I am a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, through the international Certification Counsel of Professional Dog Trainers. I have trained and worked with police, Schutzhund and personal protection dogs. I trained Assistance Dogs in a men’s prison and ran my own nonprofit organization to take adult dogs from shelters and to train them to assist children and adults with disabilities, at no charge to my clients. My nonprofit organization and I were nominated for several awards of merit and even made the front page of the Denver Post. I was a veterinary technician for many years, where I learned about all aspects of health and preventative medicine. I have trained and worked with exotic animals and cheetahs. I introduced a temperament testing program in my local shelter and sat on the board of directors. I volunteered with my dog “Mr. Snitch” and helped local children learn to read. I have attained obedience titles and several blue ribbons. I am constantly in search of ways to continue my education and excellence when it comes to animals, their behavior and their health.