Texans love to say that we have three seasons: winter, early summer, summer, and late summer. This year, we didn’t have much of a winter, and our spring (early summer) temperatures were the highest in recent history. What does that mean for our upcoming summer? Since we can’t trust The Weather Channel to accurately tell us what will happen an hour from now, the best we can do is assume it’ll be hot, hot, hot!
As pet parents, we need to pay close attention to what the Texas sun does to our pets. Some pets can handle the heat better than others, but none are particularly happy about our constantly rising temperatures. Here are a few tips to get you started in the right direction:
1. Walk when it’s cool. Yes, I know that sounds ridiculous, but “cool” is relative. I don’t walk my own dogs between 10am-6pm in the summer months. Early morning and late evening walks are best. Two of my dogs are bracyphallic breeds (Boston terriers, pugs, boxers, bulldogs), which means they have short noses. It makes it harder for them to breed, especially in the heat. I pay special attention to them and am sure to walk when it isn’t hot.
2. Place your hand on the pavement for 30 seconds. If you can’t hold your hand there for half a minute, then your pup certainly can’t be expected to walk for 30 minutes. Remember, the heat can burn their paw pads. It often takes till after 8pm for the street to fully cool in July and August.
3. NEVER, EVER LEAVE YOUR DOG OR CAT IN THE CAR! When the outside temperature is 85F (a dream for us May-September), the inside of your car, even with the windows open, will reach 120F within minutes. Dogs die yearly because a pet parent thought they were just stopping into the store for a few minutes. Running into CVS? That’s never a quick trip with those lines and slow cashiers. Take your dog home and come back. Yes, it takes extra time, but it also saves his life.
4. Have fresh water for your dog with you all the time. I have bowls outside, inside, and water bottles on our walks. I clean indoor bowls 3-5 times a week and outdoor bowls daily.
5. Buy them a pool. Seriously! My pups aren’t swimmers, but they love a fun way to cool off after a walk. They have a blue plastic baby pool ($10 at Academy), and all 4 of them find different uses for it. Buckley plays and splashes around in it. Oliver climbs in to rescue tennis balls from what he believes will be their certain demise. Lily and Daisy treat as a giant water bowl. No matter what the use, all four get to cool of their bellies.
6. Dogs don’t sweat. They pant. Try cooling them off by spraying their bellies, which helps much faster than spraying their backs. I also have “cooling bandanas.” You soak the bandana for 15-20 minutes, and it expands. They then wear them on our walks to keep cool. You can also pack a washcloth with you on a walk and soak it after or during your walk. Wipe their bellies with the cool washcloth, and you’ll have a happy pup.
7. ICE! After playing in the yard or exercising, give them ice as a treat. It helps them from drinking too much too quickly, cools them off, and it’s a zero calorie treat.
8. Puppy ice cream. The store bought kind is full of all sorts of preservatives and things that don’t need to be in your dog’s body. Try the homemade version: 2 cups plain yogurt mixed with 1/2 cup peanut butter. Pour the batter into paper cups (bathroom kind), and then place the cups in the freezer. You’ll have puppy ice cream in no time!
These are just a few of the many ways to keep your dogs happy, safe, and healthy this summer. Stay tuned to the blog and Ollie and Friends’ facebook page for more tips.