My pack and I live in North Carolina like many of our clients where it can get well above 100°F (38°C) during the summer months.
Aside from the sweltering heat being unpleasant much of the time, it can also be down-right dangerous for our dogs! Here is a short list of some of our favorite ways to stay cool and safe during the summer heat.
Having fun in the water is our absolute favorite way to stay cool during the summer! There are lots of different options for getting our dog's paws into some water, so lets talk about some that you and your pups can enjoy wherever you live!
Some dogs love water that is moving fast like from a hose or a sprinkler. Setting up a sprinkler in the yard for your dogs to play in is a great way for them to get exercise chasing the moving water around the yard as well as keep them cool!
If your dog is obsessed with spraying water from a sprinkler or a hose, these can be great tools for giving your dog exercise and keeping cool.
Caution: Avoid spraying your dog directly in the mouth, eyes, or ears with pressurized water such as from a hose or sprinkler. This could potentially cause them to get water in places it shouldn't be like in their lungs, ear canals, or under their eyelids.
That's right! Kiddy Pools, like the small plastic ones you can buy from your local general store are the easiest ways to get your dog accustomed to the water. Many dogs are hesitant to get their paws wet if they don't have to, until they learn that getting in the water can feel great on a hot day and be fun too!
Start with a small amount of water in the bottom of the pool (1-2 inches is enough), and make sure you have something that your dog gets really excited for, like a toy or their favorite treats. Reward your dog when they go near the pool and encourage them to step into the pool if you can! (A kiddy pool with short edges is easier to start with than a deep one).
Safety Tip: Be sure to keep the water in the pool cool, fresh, and clean! Leaving standing water out over several days could allow for dangerous algae, fungus, and even bugs to start growing in it.
Lakes and Ponds
Most of us live within driving distance of some type of body of water, whether it is the ocean, a lake, or just a local fishing pond! Check with your local town or county rules, but if its safe to do so, taking your dog to swim in a natural body of water can be super fun!
Most dogs will generally be happy to investigate the water, but may be hesitant to get their paws wet at first. Be sure to bring something to motivate your dog to step into the water like a toy or treats! (If you are using a toy, make sure that it floats in case you drop it in the water).
If your dog is more adventurous you can encourage them to get in and actually swim in a few ways, and finding out the way that will work for your dog best is important! Some dogs (like mine) are toy crazy! So if they see their favorite toy flying into the deep part of the lake, they generally will not hesitate to chase it in and find out after they've jumped whether they know how to swim or not. Other dogs may take a bit longer to get acclimated.
If your dog is hesitant, but loves their toy, try throwing the toy into the water, but not so far that they can't still touch the bottom. Then slowly throw the toy a bit further until its just out of reach of where they can still touch the bottom. Ideally they should face their fear and take the plunge! (Be prepared to get in the water with your dog in the event they find out that the indeed do not know how to swim.)
If you're fortunate enough to have a pool in your back yard, or a pool within driving distance that is dog friendly, these can be great opportunities to keep cool for you and your dog!
If you don't know of a local dog-friendly pool near you, you can check with your local dog boarding and daycare facilities. Some facilities feature a pool for the dogs to enjoy and you may even be able to rent the pool for you and your dog to private use.
Another great option to get your dog's paws wet in a big clean pool would be a local Dock Diving Pool! A quick google search should bring up the nearest Dog Dock Diving pools near you! Most of these pools provide you the opportunity to rent the pool and may even have a dog swimming and diving coach available to help get Fido swimming like a fish in no time!
Some public pools may offer a "Doggy Dip Day" to close out the pool's open season at the end of the summer. This is basically a day where the pool is opened up to dogs and their owners for a chance for their pup to go swimming!
Water Safety Tips
Swimming and playing the water can be tons of fun, but it also comes with a number of dangers to be aware of. Knowing your dog well, their ability levels and what would constitute unusual behavior is important to knowing if your dog is experiencing any possible dangerous side-effects of water activities.
The vast majority of dogs naturally know how to swim nearly from birth. But some breeds in particular are predisposed to being unable to swim for a variety of reasons. If it is your dog's first time getting into water that could potentially be deep enough where they can't touch the bottom like a pool or a lake, you should have your dog wear a life-jacket until you are confident in your dog's swimming abilities.
If you are taking your dog to a lake or pond and don't have reliable off-leash recall, you'll probably want to keep a leash or long line on your dog while they play in the water. Be careful if your dog goes swimming in the deeper water that the leash or long line doesn't get tangled in their feet and prevent them from being able to swim. This can be a very scary experience!
If you are taking your dog to a lake, pond, or other natural body of water, check on google what types of algae or insects are likely present in the water and if they are dangerous to your dog. In recent years, a common blue/green algae had been responsible for a concerning number of dog deaths and symptoms can come on very quickly.
Did you know that there is such a thing is TOO MUCH WATER? That's right, if you're dog ingests too much water, they could possible get very sick or even die from water toxicity.
When dogs swim, they often ingest a lot of water while they are swimming. Dogs take in a lot of water in their mouths while swimming, especially if you are playing fetch in the water. They can't really spit the water out like we do, so naturally they tend to just swallow it.
Even if your dog hasn't had many sips of water between playing, they could possible be ingesting large amounts of water while swimming without you even being aware of it. When in doubt, keep your swimming sessions short and give your dog lots of breaks to rest.
If you are swimming in pools that have salt water or chemicals to keep the water clean, keep this fact in mind while your dog is enjoying the water. Ingesting small amounts of water from these types of pools is generally harmless for most dogs, but could possible cause some issues in larger amounts.
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