When the summer weather arrives, you may want nothing more than to head to the beach or the park to enjoy some quality time with your new puppy. Dogs, however, overheat much more easily and quickly than humans do. They have much fewer sweat glands and rely on panting to keep cool.
Young puppies can be at even greater risk of heatstroke. They don't have the ability to regulate their temperature the way an adult dog can; breeds with temperature-regulating double coats won't have developed their adult coat yet; and they are, of course, full of energy. It can be a particular problem for brachycephalic breed puppies such as pugs and French bulldogs, as their flat face shape makes their panting less effective.
So, it's up to the caretaker to keep them safe and comfortable on hot summer days. Letting your puppy chill inside in the air conditioning is one option for keeping it cool. But, for puppies that enjoy spending time outdoors, owners need to create an environment conducive to staying cool.
Check out these tips for keeping your puppy cool in the summer.
1. Provide Shade
If you spend a lot of time in the yard with your puppy, it is important that they have access to shade. If you don’t have a shade tree, an outdoor patio umbrella or sunshade canopy will work just as well. Puppies can also find shelter in a ventilated dog crate or doghouse with ample airflow.
Even lying in a shaded area, your pup could still be at risk of heat exhaustion when the temperatures are very high. In these instances, it is best to bring them indoors to an area where cool air is circulating.
2. Offer Cool Drinks
Cold water aids in the evaporative process that happens when a dog pants. It's one of the main ways that dogs of all ages regulate their temperature. A dehydrated puppy will develop heatstroke more quickly.
Cool and clean water should always be available. If your pup doesn't drink a lot, you could add it to their food. If you are out on a walk, make sure you bring water with you.
Be aware that playful puppies may tip over the water bowl. To avoid this mishap, dig a hole in the ground and fit a shallow watering pail inside. This way, your puppy can't tip it over. The surrounding soil also helps insulate the water, keeping it cooler for longer.
3. Freeze a Treat
Fill your puppy’s favorite rubber chew toy with soft food blended with chicken broth or water. Then, stick it in the freezer. Offer these “pupsicle” treats to help your dog stay cool. You can make cool treats for hot pups with yogurt concoctions and baby food, too. And, chilled treats also alleviate the pains of teething and are great for mental enrichment and keeping your pup occupied.
4. Get Misty
Misting fans made especially for pets spew water into the air and lower your puppy's body temperature by keeping their fur damp. As the water evaporates, it cools your pup off. Misters can be placed on the porch, on the deck, or near a puppy playpen. Make sure the area you're misting has a grass, wood, or concrete surface. Watering bare ground can create a muddy mess.
A light mister is a much safer option than soaking your puppy with a fast-running hose. Although some dogs love to catch the hose water in their mouth, drinking large quantities of water too quickly can lead to what is called water intoxication. Although rare, in extreme cases it can be fatal.
5. Host a Pool Party
Set up a kiddie wading pool for your puppy’s splashing pleasure. A molded plastic version will be more durable against sharp claws than an inflatable variety. Place it in the shade and invite a few doggie friends over. Use floating dog toys and let your puppy learn water sports from the older dogs. To assure safety, keep the water level low, always supervise, and make sure your pup can climb out easily.
6. Dig a Dugout
Create a sandbox in a shaded corner of the yard for your puppy to stay cool. Puppies that love to dig might even excavate their own spot. Wet down the sand so that they can scoop out a comfy and cooling nest during the heat of the day.
7. Enlist Cooling Technology
The same technology used to keep athletes cool and comfortable during hot weather also works for pets. You can find a variety of cooling products including bandanas, collars, jackets, beds, and mats for indoor or outdoor use. Just soak them in water for evaporative cooling that lasts up to five hours.
If you don't want to invest in cooling products, you could soak a towel for your pup to lie on.
8. Exercise at Dawn and Dusk
For puppies used to daily walks, when the temperatures soar, walking in the middle of the day is not recommended. The risk of heat exhaustion is real and you will also have to watch out for the tarmac being so hot that it could burn your pup's delicate paw pads.
Heading out at dawn and dusk when the temperatures are much less extreme is best. Walks should be short, slow, and calm—steer clear of vigorous games like fetch.
9. Keep Your Home Cool
Even indoors, your pup could be at risk of overheating, especially if you don't have AC. Consider purchasing a fan that can be placed in the room that your puppy sleeps in and close the drapes in bright rooms.
10. Select an Appropriate Bed
It can be tempting to opt for a cozy, squishy, high-sided, fleecy bed for your puppy. In hot weather, however, a bed like that will likely be too hot. Offering your puppy the choice of a cooler sleeping spot is recommended. Raised beds that are elevated from the floor allow better airflow.
One of the most common reasons for puppies developing heatstroke is when they are left in a car on a hot day. Even if you are only planning to quickly stop off for a few groceries, you will be putting your pup at risk leaving them in the car while you do so. In just a matter of minutes, cars can reach dangerously high temperatures and it just isn't worth the risk.