10 Tips for the Dog Days of Summer
Get the most out of the summer season with your furry best bud with these wag-worthy summer tips to keep your canine cool. Written by Cathy Herholdt; photography by J. Nichole Smith

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Summer means playtime. Take advantage of longer days and warmer weather to get some exercise and have fun with your dog. Grab a favorite ball or Frisbee and head to the park. Let your pup wear himself out running and playing. If the forecast is for hot weather, be sure to schedule playtime early in the morning or later in the evening to avoid getting overheated.

Keep your dog cool and hydrated. Make sure your dog has access to plenty of water throughout the summer months. Keep a thermos of cool water and a portable dish with you on every outing. If the weather gets really warm, avoid exercising and create a cool space at home for your pet. An air-conditioned room, garage or basement with a fan blowing will be a much-appreciated oasis from the heat.

On hot summer nights when even the house won’t cool down, go for a ride in the car with the air-conditioning on and the vents blowing right on your dog’s face.

Summer treats for your pup. Getting your dog to eat in the heat can be tough. Many pets lose their appetite when the mercury rises. Try feeding during cool hours of the day and coaxing with a bit of broth mixed into the kibble. Better yet, freeze beef or chicken broth in an ice cube tray and place a few cubes on the food.

If you’re grilling meat on the barbeque, take the juices from the platter under your cooked meat and pour it over your dog’s food like gravy. It’s guaranteed he’ll gobble it up!

Drop a few ice cubes in your pet’s water dish, or hand feed ice cubes right from the freezer for a cold, crunchy treat.

Try mixing peanut butter with mashed bananas and water, and freezing into a tasty “pupsicle.” Yoghund makes gourmet, organic frozen yogurt treats for dogs, in flavors like organic blueberry and vanilla. Probiotics (good bacteria) in the yogurt aid digestion and boost the immune system. The packaging is made from 100% recycled, chlorine-free paper, just in case your dog accidentally ingests the cup during a feeding frenzy.

Splash! Safe swimming reminders. Always supervise your pet in or around water. Kiddie pools are a great way for your dog to splash around in a shallow, safe area.If you go to a saltwater beach, beware of tides and undercurrents, and rinse your dog off after swimming. Also, be sure to clean his ears after swimming in any water to avoid bacterial growth. A sparkling stream may look tempting on a hot day, but don’t let your dog drink the water. Stream water, pool water and saltwater can all make dogs sick. And remember to use a lifejacket specially designed for dogs when on a boat.

Summer grooming. To help keep long-haired dogs cool in the summer, trim hair to one-inch long—but no shorter, or your pup risks sunburn. (And don’t shave your pet, for the same reason.) Never use sunscreen made for humans on an animal—it can make them sick. Use only sunscreens approved for pets. De-shedding tools, such as the popular FURminator, can make a huge difference in keeping your dog cooler and your house cleaner this summer. The FURminator removes your dog’s undercoat and loose hair, reducing shedding by up to 90 percent.

Never leave your dog in the car—even for a minute. According to the Humane Society, during warm weather the inside of a car can reach 120 degrees in minutes, even if parked in the shade. Heat stroke and even brain damage can occur quickly, so don’t think that being gone “just a minute” is okay.

If you see a dog in a parked car in the Seattle area, call the Seattle Animal Shelter’s “Hot Dog” line at 206. 386.7387 and push #7.

Step up foot protection. Protect the pads of your dog’s feet by staying off the pavement and on the grass when walking outside. Asphalt can get unbearably hot and burn tender feet in only a few steps. If your dog must walk on pavement on a hot day, consider buying a pair of protective booties.

Keeping your lawn green. One of the bummers of summer when sharing your backyard with a dog (who sees it as a giant potty) is those nasty brown spots on the lawn. Nitrogen in dog urine kills the grass, and the results can be quite unsightly, especially if you have multiple dogs. Short of following your dog around with a garden hose, there are a few things you can do to help prevent this problem.

Some suggest feeding your dog a high-quality food with easily digestible protein sources to lessen the nitrogen in urine. There are dietary supplements on the market that can help as well, but your best bet may be training your dog to go to a remote area of the yard to do his duty. Walk him on a leash to the desired area when it’s potty time and offer treats when he goes there. Before long, it will be his favorite spot.

Festivals. Noise, crowds and heat can create stress for dogs. During the summer there are plenty of fun outings to enjoy with your pup, but fairs, parades and festivals are best enjoyed with other humans.

Flea and tick prevention. Fleas and ticks can cause health problems in your pet. Warm weather and more time spent outdoors can lead to increased problems with both. The best method of prevention is to use a product recommended by your vet. Over the counter flea treatments can be toxic, even when directions are followed.

Be especially careful of ticks when camping and hiking. Watch for redness and irritation on your dog’s skin, and if you suspect a tick, have your vet remove it to avoid leaving part of it attached to your dog.

Following these simple safety tips and anticipating your pet’s needs during warmer months can ensure that you and your canine companion have an enjoyable, stress-free time. So break out the biscuits and beach blanket and have a ball!