Hot Town, Summer in the City
It’s summer time and the weather has been brutally hot here in Chicago. Pretty sure we hit 7,000 degrees Fahrenheit the other day. And if it feels hot to you, you know it feels hot for your Samoyed or whatever kind of dog you may have. As we enter the dog days of summer, what better time to provide some tips and suggestions about how to keep dogs cool in hot weather. Your dog will be thankful we did!
Before diving into the tips themselves, please remember that dehydration in dogs is a very serious problem and you have to be watchful to make sure that doesn’t happen. Take the time to research the signs of dog or pet dehydration to make sure you know what to watch for (petMD is a great source for all things related to your pet’s health). If your dog is exhibiting any signs of dehydration, like excessive panting, being lethargic, sunken eyes, weakness, etc. call your veterinarian immediately! Don’t delay.
Okay, now let’s talk about some things you can do to keep your pooch cool inside the home, in the backyard, or even out for a walk.
INSIDE THE HOME
Keep Water Bowls Filled
Keep all of your dog’s water bowls full and be sure to change them at least once/day if not more. The more often the better. In hot weather, we set out extra water bowls for Sacha just in case. Remember, your dog can’t turn on the water faucet and get himself a fresh drink of whatever whenever he wants to. He’s dependent on you for that and you don’t want his water supply getting low when the thermostat is rising. If you’re going to be at work or otherwise outside the home for much of the day, put out at least three full bowls of water for each pet. You can even throw some ice cubs in there to help keep the water cooler a bit longer.
Keep the House Cool
Make sure your house is as cool as possible all day long. If you have air conditioning, keep it running for your Samoyed even when you’re not home. Also, turn on your ceiling fans and floor fans to keep the air circulating. At nighttime, we give Sacha a fan just for him. It’s in our bedroom (where he typically sleeps) and it’s set up perfectly to blow right on him. And he’ll stay in front of it much of the night. We call it the Sachi Fan.
Also, don’t think just in terms of air conditioning and fans to keep your best friend cool. You may also consider keeping the shades or curtains drawn to help keep the sun out. Especially if your home has a southern exposure or your dog likes to lay down in a particular spot that catches lots of sunlight during the day. Provide a shady place for him to rest inside of the house.
A cooling bed/mat for your dog is another great way to keep your dog nice and cool in hot weather. It’s definitely something I recommend and is well worth the investment. I wrote a blog about this topic earlier and reviewed some popular cooling mats which you can read about here:
Keep Their Feet Cool
Heat enters and exits through your dog’s feet. So one way to keep them cool is to provide a fresh wet towel for him to keep his feet cool. You can also splash some room temperature water on the body or use a sprayer. Make sure to use water that is room temperature though as using ice or water that is too cold can do more harm than good. Stick to room temperature water and if you can do this in combination with a fan, your Samoyed will give a look like this!
What About That Samoyed Coat?
We believe strongly that you should never shave your Samoyed’s coat. Although every single one of our Samoyeds has had their coat completely shaved off without our permission by an overzealous groomer. But that’s a story for another day…
Anyway, we don’t recommend shaving the coat, but for a Samoyed, consider giving it a bit of a trim. You need to keep the coat itself, because it helps dogs regulate their body temperature and it also protects them against sunburn. But, for Sacha, since his coat is so thick, we will have the groomer trim his coat down a bit. Just don’t shave it!
IN THE BACKYARD
We don’t typically spend much time with our Samoyeds outside in the summer months because their fur is so thick and they can overheat quickly. But when we do, there are a few things to keep in mind.
Keep Water Bowls in the Shade
If you leave your dog in the yard for any length of time at all, be sure to have a few full water bowls out there for him. But also, be mindful where you place them! Don’t put them somewhere on your deck or lawn where they’ll be exposed to sunlight because the water will heat up and be less appealing to your pooch. Keep the bowls in the shade so the water remains as nice and cool as possible.
Set Up Shaded Areas
Hopefully your yard has lots of nice, natural shaded areas for your dog to lay in. But if not, consider how you can create some shaded areas for him. If you have a table, move the chairs back so he can slide comfortably underneath it. Or set up a yard umbrella in an area he likes to hang out in.
Take it Easy on the Play Time
Don’t over exert your dog, especially in hot weather. Just let him chill out. Don’t feel like you have to throw the tennis ball around all the time. And if the kids are playing with him too much (always a problem when you have a Samoyed!) step and in make sure your dog gets to take a break and have plenty of water.
WHEN GOING FOR A WALK
Daily exercise is important of course, but you need to take it easy in hot weather.
Walk Your Pooch in Off Hours
Try to avoid walking your dog in the middle of the day when the temperature is at its hottest. To avoid the nasty heat, take him for a walk early in the morning or late at night when the sun isn’t so oppressive. If you’re a jogger, it’s a lot more comfortable to run at dawn or dusk than at lunchtime right? Same for your dog.
Keep walks short
A hot summer day is no time to be a hero. Keep your walks short and take breaks along the way if necessary. If you have a dog like a Samoyed with thick fur, don’t forget he’s wearing his winter coat all year long. He’s not in shorts, a T-shirt, and flip flops like you may be. Remember, he’s likely to get uncomfortable in the heat much sooner than you will.
You’ll notice that this is a recurring theme, but carry fresh water with you. They make these water bottles specifically for dogs that allow you to pour the water into a little mini water bowl. Take that with you every time.
Try to walk your dog on the grass or dirt as much as possible. Remember that thing I said earlier about dogs absorbing heat through their feet? If you walk them on hot pavement, concrete, or asphalt, your dog is really going to feel that. Also, walk on the shady side of the street if you have that option, or at least try to seek out shade along your route. The key is to keep those walks short and take breaks along the way.
It’s very important that you watch for signs of fatigue in your dog. Unfortunately, your dog can’t tell you that he’s feeling fatigued so be sure to educate yourself to know what the signs are (again, petMD is a good source). If you’re walking him and he’s looking to stop every couple of minutes and lie down, it’s time to get him home and back into the A/C. If he’s small enough, carry him. If not, get creative, but get him out of the heat.
One time when we were walking Zoya on a hot day, she was really panting heavily and wanted to stop constantly. But she weighed about 90 lbs and we were over a mile from our home so carrying her back wasn’t an option. So we got creative and actually hailed a taxi. We were a little worried the driver wouldn’t let us in his car with our big old panting Samoyed, but it turned out not to be a problem. We explained to the cab driver what was going on and he was very nice and cooperative and gave us a ride home. If that’s not an option see if there’s a local retail store or someplace cool nearby and ask the owner if you can bring your dog inside to rest for a bit. People like dogs so they may be more open to this than you might think. Whatever it is, don’t hesitate. Take action!
And of course, and I hope this goes without saying, but please never leave your dog alone in an unattended vehicle! If you haven’t read my post about what the state of Ohio did recently, you can check that out here.
Summing it Up
Summer is obviously a great time to be outside and to have fun with your dog. But never let having all that fun get in the way of keeping your dog cool.
If you have other tips on things you do to keep your dogs cool in the summer, please leave me a comment. I’d love to know what they are!