How do we get through the summer months in 38ºC (100ºF). A popular question circling dog owners in desert climates. The Howl & Growl Team have collected some essential tips to help you help them through the long haul of summer. Whether super hot or a little bit toasty, try these tips all year round for a happy and healthy dog.
What kind of dog do you have?
If it's too hot outside for a human, then it is too hot for your dog, however there are certain aspects of a dogs appearance that can make them able to cope better than others.
Being aware of how face structure, size and coat length help or hinder your dog in the heat, can help you make a more informed decision about their threshold for your daily activites, especially if you have more than one dog with very different features or if you're thinking of getting a dog for the first time whilst living in the upper ends of the thermometer scale. Here are some aspects of your dog to keep in mind.
FACIAL STRUCTURE: Does your dog have a pushed in nose?
A dog needs to be able to pant to cool down so Pugs, Bulldogs and Boxers will not do as well compared to longer snouted dogs.
Tips: Short snout dogs in extreme hot weather, limit the walks outdoors, do more indoor 'brain games'.
Big dogs tend to need a lot more exercise than the littles e.g. Full Husky, Golden Retrievers, German Shepherds all need a lot of exercise. Always think about what the historic purpose of the dog is. E.g. Huskys bred to pull sleds for hundreds of miles in extreme cold climates. Collies herd sheep/cattle.
Thick hair or double coated breeds will struggle more, but it also protects from the heat. Thin haired or sparse haired dogs will be more exposed to sunburn.
Tips: Do not be tempted to shave your dogs coat off in summer.
Dogs with white coats, snouts, ear tips and thin fur on the stomach are susceptible to burn. If you cannot find suncream for dogs, try the version for babies as a suitable alternative.
14 Tips for Beating the Heat:
1. Walkies: Timing is everything.
Early morning and late at night. Who doesn't like to catch a sunrise anyway? An hour after the sun goes down gives the pavement time to cool down and not burn the paw pads.
In the height of summer for those of you living in temperatures in excess of 30ºC/100ºF limit your walk to 10 minutes or less. No vigorous exercise outdoors when too hot.
Something for the medium to bigger dogs over 2 years old
Why not bring a bottle of water and give your dog a sense of purpose by having them carry it. Howl & Growl tried and tested the Ruffwear Palisades Pack, which has a dual function as a harness or dog backpack. Put the bottle in the freezer overnight and the extra weight of the water bottle in the side pocket gives your dog a taste of canine crossfit. It will cool them down as it melts and provide a mid walk refreshment.
2. Mind Games
Some dogs do need vigorous exercise but mental stimulation is just as important. Spending 5-15 minutes a few times a day with training, tricks or ball games will not only occupy your dog, it will help with bonding, give you a break from work/info overload and make up for some of the exercise they miss out on. Got kids? Get them involved too. Make an agility or obstacle course, run them up and down the stairs..good for hound and human! Make them work for their treats too!
Sign up your dog for some training. Obedience training not only makes for a more enjoyable time with your dog, but also engages their brain to keep them entertained and a mental workout is as important as the physical. Check out Dog Tags Training for some of the best trainers in town.
3. Day Care
We are lucky that we can bring our dogs to the Howl & Growl HQ, but we still like to send them to Spot every so often so they can potter around, play and chase each others tails. Most daycares in town have an indoor play space and different activities that the handlers introduce their furry guests to, such as bubble machines, music, ball pits and a game of fetch (it's a classic!)
4. Indoor Dog Park
It's not the same as a mountain hike, but a great alternative for the constraints of desert summers. My Second Home has a large indoor space, which is accessible for owners to play and exercise their dogs all year round. With two swimming pools and a few agility obstacles, there is plenty to peak their interest. Plus they now have a Starbucks coffee machine which means you can get your caffeine fix at the same time as play.
Dogwalk, Al Quoz has its own small swimming pool for hydrotherapy or teaching your dog to swim and you can even swim with your dog too if you book in advance.
5. Sleep Time...Time for a new bed!
Dogs tend to sleep a lot anyway, but when it's hot it can make them extra dozy.
Make sure their bed is in the shade. Whilst desert dwellers or hotter countries are blessed with air con, do choose a spot for their bed away from direct sunlight. Some dog beds aren't made from the best materials, so you may find your dog will rest up on a cold tile floor instead. Check out our Cloud 7 range for their natural breathable materials. Dogs use stretching out as a way to ventilate, so a bed they can sprawl out on rather than curl up into is ideal. If you crate train your dog, it is even more important that it is in a cool spot so they don't get frustrated from the heat.
You could even roll up a frozen water bottle in a towel and place it under their pillow or blanket.
Dogs cannot sweat like us, therefore panting is their way to cool off. Can you spot signs of dehydration?
An overheated dog will drool excessively, become lethargic and their eyes may appear bloodshot. If you lift up the dog's skin it will take longer than usual for the skin to fall back into place.
What to do?
If they are over-heated seek shade or air conditioned space and put down a wet towel on the floor for the dog to lie on and give them water. Dogs cool from the bottom up so it's more helpful to them rather than putting a wet towel over their body. Spraying their paws and stomach with cool water helps too.
7. Hydration: Know the signs of dehydration
Water and plenty of it, especially if they are on a dry food diet. Overweight dogs and those with darker coats are more likely to suffer from dehydration (darker coats absorb more heat than lighter coats). If your dog doesn't like much water, or being wet, try sticking a few ice cubes in the water bowl. With dry food adding a bit of water, stock or bone broth to it will give them extra water intake.
8. Swimming: Beach Please, Pool is Cool too!
Did you know that some dogs have webbed feet to help them swim!
One setback with many hot destinations, is that dogs are not always welcome on the beach or lakes. In Dubai, it is very sadly not allowed but if you are able to get access to enjoy a beach, ensure there is plenty of fresh water to stop them drinking the saltwater which can make them sick.
If your dog isn't a natural swimmer, some great exercise is to run them on lead in shallow water as it is more of an effort and they are secured by being on the lead with you. It is also good exercise for the owner too. Shop our waterproof collars and leads so no damage will be done to their best walking outfits. (Currently available at our Howl & Growl Studio in Al Quoz).
If you are lucky enough to have access to a pool this is a great way to keep your dog fit and exercised in a warm climate. For first time dog swimmers you could let them swim around the pool while you hold the lead or just get in with them and show them the way.
It's crucial that your dogs know the exit points of the pool so they don't panic, and never leave them alone in the pool, especially dogs that are not natural swimmers.
9. Dog Carrier
Save their paws and carry them instead. There are more and more dog carriers available for dogs these days and the designs just keep getting better. We see them most on our travels around Europe where you will often see them perched alongside their owner in a dog friendly restaurant or café. An excellent way to keep little dogs safe and out of harms way, and what better place to have a power nap then a fleece lined cosy carrier. Check out our city carrier which is designed for small dogs.
10. Cooling Jackets:
We tried and tested against an unforgiving UAE summer climate. The Cooling Jacket by Ruffwear. It's only recommended for 10 minutes use in extreme heat. The dogs high body temperature will quickly absorb the cold vest, so any longer than 10 minutes and it will have a negative effect. If you can keep topping it up with cool water then this will keep its cooling effect going.
11. Car Rules: (Dogs and Cars only get on with decent air conditioning)
Whilst this is obvious to most, a parked cars interior can be double the heat registered outside. So imagine stepping into that with a fur coat on. No thank you!
Protect your dog from the inferno that is the inside of you car by turning the air con up before you jump in. Even waiting 20 seconds before entering will release some of that hot air. A light coloured blanket for the backseat doesn't absorb as much heat as a dark one. Remember that uncovered seats will also absorb the heat. So a big blanket will make for a cooler place to lie.
We recommend the Baja blanket to cover the car seats, it can also be used as a picnic blanket or couch cover.
Be mindful of how powerful the air-con is in the back of the car. It may feel nice and breezy up front, whilst the back is unbearable for the ones that need it most.
12. Ice Ice Baby: Get creative with some 'quick-fire' ways to blow off some steam!
-Ice cream-they make this for dogs now! check out Hugo & Celine or to make snacks on a budget there are plenty of recipes for homemade versions.
-Ice cubes-ask for a glass of ice cubes at one of your fave dog friendly hang outs. Most dogs will happily chomp on those to keep cool and entertained.
-If air con just doesn't cut it for those tail waggers, try a bowl of ice in front of a portable fan for an in your face cool down that the hottest of dogs will appreciate. Always handy in the event that your air con breaks down, or for instant cool down after a walk.
-Sprinklers (who doesn't love to run through these). Splashing through the garden for 10 minutes is a decent doggy workout! Add a small kids paddling pool for them to splash in and cool from the belly up!
It's amazing how much extra insulation from their coat you can remove, just by giving them a decent brush. Head to your local groomer for a professional to work their magic.
There are lots of groomers we have used over the years for our double coated Pomeranian and our frequent shedder Luna the Pomsky. We have tried, tested and adore Barkingham Palace. Our dogs come back smelling amazing, and they always come back looking like a weight has been lifted off their shoulders (literally).
In between grooms get yourself a good brush or 'Furminator'. These are great for removing the fluff, without hurting your dog but be careful if the fur is matted. If your dog is nervous of the brush you could start with a more gentle soft brush and reward with food to help their motivation to stay still.
14. Animal Instincts
Unlike the extreme sunbathers among us, our furry friends will know when it's too hot, too cold or too wet for walkies. Don't forget about the humidity, this actually makes it harder for dogs to pant and therefore cool off as the air is full of moisture. Instinctively they will seek out shade and know to come back inside where it's safe for them i.e. not 30-50º
Tip: Stand bare foot on the pavement and see how long it takes to burn your feet. When 2-3 seconds to burn the soles of your feet, this is too hot for dog paws.
Seek shade on walks, this will feel 10-15 degrees cooler because you haven't got the radiation from the sun, but it is still as hot! If they seem too hot, turn back as sometimes providing water isn't enough.