Whole Dog Journal's Blog July 13, 2010

Keeping Hot Dogs Cool This Summer

Posted at 02:31PM - Comments: (17)

It’s hot here in Northern California. And it’s just the start of a two-month annual period of the extremely high-temperature, dry weather we get here in the northeastern Sacramento Valley. I’m not crazy about it, but my dog Otto REALLY seems to hate the heat. Once the mercury hits 90 or so, he finds the coolest, darkest place he can find to hide out from the heat.

In his first summer – we adopted him in mid-June 2008 – Otto almost wore out his welcome with my husband even before his temporary ID tags had faded. The dog spent the first week digging down into any cool, moist place he could find – which happened to be under plants we were watering and inside of raised flower and vegetable beds we had painstakingly planted. Fortunately, I had been trained by the best – WDJ’s Training Editor, Pat Miller – and knew that we had a management problem, not a training issue, on our hands. I could see that Otto was just trying to get cool, so we needed to give him a “legal” place to do so.

(Why not let him in the air-conditioned house, you might ask? Because we don’t have one! We have a house, of course, just not one with air conditioning. In my office, I have what is locally known as a “swamp cooler” -- more accurately called an “evaporative cooler.” It’s a powerful fan that pulls air through moist mats of aspen shavings and forces it through your home; you have to crack some windows or a door to let air escape. When it’s running Otto is welcome to join me as I work, but when I’m not in the office, he has to find other options.)

Otto’s best defense against the heat is his sandbox: it’s 4 feet by 6 feet and filled about 10 inches deep with nice clean sand, and situated in the shadiest corner of the yard. I wet the sand when I’m watering the garden in the morning, and Otto knows just how to dig a nice hole for himself and hide out in the damp sand throughout the day.

We have to alter our usual daily schedule out of deference to the heat. Throughout the rest of the year, I often take Otto along when I walk, or take my mountain bike for an afternoon ride on our abundant local trails; now, it’s just too hot for vigorous exercise at any time other than close to dawn and well after sunset. That is, too hot for a hot dog – people are still out running and riding bikes, but it’s just too hot for dogs, who are much closer to that egg-frying pavement, and barefoot to boot! We take our longest walks at night, and take more frequent, short trips to the river, where Otto loves to wade back and forth through the shallow water. (I’m hoping in this, his third summer, he finally gets comfortable with swimming. He loves the water, but only when his feet can touch the ground. When the water gets too deep for that, he looks panicky and heads for shore.)

I usually feed Otto twice a day, but in the heat, he really loses his appetite. We’ve switched to a once a day schedule, and I feed him late at night, when it’s cool. Only then will he dive into his food with gusto. When it’s hot, he just picks. OF COURSE, I make sure he’s got many sources of cool water – bowls in my office and the house, and a big bowl and a deep bucket outside. And I change the water frequently, making sure he’s got lots of incentive to drink as much as he needs.

What are you doing to keep your hot dogs cool? 

Comments (15)

Never put ice or ice water around your dogs neck. It causes the viens to become smaller and exacerbates the problem. This was advice from a very good veterinarian. He said a cool water soaked towel or cool water but no ice. If the ice or ice water hasn't hurt them it doesn't mean that it won't. If you don't mind taking a chance with the life of your pet then disregaurd this advice.

Posted by: GARY M | August 24, 2010 3:51 PM    Report this comment

Soak a hand towel or large towel or bandana in ice water, wring out and place over your dog or around his neck. Google dog ice collar for really cool collars that take the blue frozen ice cubes that go in your cooler. They go into small pockets in the collar and when you put it on your dog it cools his body almost immediately. I often just spray my dog with ice water until he is almost wet, which cools his body. When he drys off and gets hot I do it again, cheap and it works.

Posted by: tarzanbf | July 19, 2010 11:02 PM    Report this comment

I make -ice cream' treats. Mash one banana, add a 32oz carton of natural yogurt (I use the one with the Mountain on it), add 2 TBS of peanut butter, and 2 TBS of honey. Put into small cups to freeze, I use the paper 5oz Dixie cups. No need to put a cover on them...once frozen and placed in a large freezer bag they are ok. The commercial ones have additives which turned me off, so I looked for another solution. My Dane loves them. It's his Noon treat!

Posted by: SANDRA M | July 16, 2010 3:24 PM    Report this comment

YOU must review/test Ruff Wear's Swamp Cooler vest - my dogs live in their vests all summer long. I'm a HUGE fan. My senior girl cannot go on far walks during the summer so this allows her to stay out longer... ~C

Posted by: Christy C | July 15, 2010 6:02 PM    Report this comment

When we walk our dog early in the morning, lots of lawn sprinklers are running. Mischa loves the sprinklers, so when he gets hot he just jumps around in them and cools off his belly. The neighbors all think he's hoot when they see him playing in the sprinkler.

Posted by: CAROL M | July 15, 2010 10:47 AM    Report this comment

I set my thermostat to 74 in the summer as Tennessee is very hot and humid. Harry, my dog, and Tonto, my cat, both like to lie over the floor vents during the day while I'm at work. This keeps them cool and happy. They also like me to add ice cubes to their water in the morning before I go to work, and when I get home in the evening. I never walk Harry on concrete in the summer as I have a very nice backyard that he can use. They are both healthy and happy animals. And yes, cats and dogs can be very devoted companions, so long as it's the cat that picks you both out to begin with, as Tonto did.

Posted by: Geepa | July 15, 2010 9:18 AM    Report this comment

I leave the air conditioner set at 78 most of the summer, keeps the house just comfortably warm while I'm at work, kick it down a few degrees during heat waves. Use floor fans when a/c is not necessary. Night walks, kept short, my guys use the yard strictly for potty when it's hot. Water bowls filled with ice cubes.

Posted by: AKITRIX | July 15, 2010 5:35 AM    Report this comment

We use "cooling vests" which are safe and comfortable from Cocojor.com.... we also use Ice Pups mix from Honest Kitchen, and of course lots of filtered water in bowls in every room... but I live in the cooler NW.. Seattle, Wa... One other thing I do is use the dehydrated food from Addiction with cold water... they love it....

Posted by: SUSAN G | July 14, 2010 8:32 PM    Report this comment

I live in northern Michigan where the humidity adds considerably to the stress of heat for humans and dogs alike. I tried a kiddie pool one summer with great results for several of my canine friends but with disastrous results for my collie. She loved to float in the water and seemed more comfortable in our summer weather but her dense undercoat did not dry out and we had skin problems to battle. No more kiddie pool. Now I run the sprinkler for my boxer and clumber spaniel to play in. They love it! (My collie, Boston terrier, and Saint Bernard/Great Pyrenees do not participate, however!) I keep fans on everyone in the house (no air conditioning), feed ice cubes to those who like them, and sponge all faces and heads with a cool cloth, avoiding their ears.

Posted by: Janine G | July 14, 2010 7:17 PM    Report this comment

If I have to leave the guys alone in the summer they go into their kennel which is 12x12, has trees on three sides and a roof which extends 1 1/2 foot over the walls, giving them a lot of shade. They have a baby pool, a large water bucket and a "mister system" which keeps the concrete cool. The dog beds are on 4x6 pallets which are covered with 4x6 rubber mats made for horse stalls.

Posted by: HEIDE H | July 14, 2010 6:53 PM    Report this comment

I use a kiddie pool. My dog loves to lay in it and flip from side to side. He also loves dunking his nose under the water and bringing his head up in such a way that it runs into his face and down his neck.

Posted by: Paula B | July 14, 2010 3:58 PM    Report this comment

We partially fill a kiddie wading pool and put it under the shaded part of the run. Bonus: it collects and kills grasshoppers and wasps. Negative side: it needs to be cleaned and refilled once every week or two. But we use the dirty water to water nearby plants.

Posted by: hil p | July 14, 2010 3:51 PM    Report this comment

Our dogs adored their water-filled cushy plastic pads so I was very sad to hear of the dangers of off-gassing from PVC (and they Did always stink). I was interested to read Sharon S's post recommending cots. Is anyone making a water pad from a safe material, that you know of?

Posted by: RACHEL C | July 14, 2010 3:36 PM    Report this comment

My 3 month old puppy loves ice cubes! I put two in her crate, or outside on the deck. and bats them around and licks them while she plays. No mess to clean up as she laps up the water puddle left behind!

Posted by: cleyboldt@gmail.com | July 14, 2010 3:26 PM    Report this comment

Fill clean empty milk or juice cartons with water and freeze solid, as many as can fit in your freezer. Spray with nonstick spray first to help get the ice blocks out. You can even add a blueberry, strawberry, banana slice or two to make it colorful (helps you want to do it)and more fun for your dog. Use a block or two per day in your large outside bucket of water. Rinse down the concrete of your shaded patio area every night with cool water. Consider a window fan pointed outward toward the shaded area on low. Moving the air is extremely important, as is a safe cool shaded surface. This is a good time for the mesh type raised cots--in winter they draw heat away. Make sure the water container will be in the shade the entire day. Erect a patio shade panel from the home improvement store if necessary. Never ever tether a dog.

Posted by: auntiesharon | July 14, 2010 3:05 PM    Report this comment

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