Anyone who knows me, knows I keep Rough Coat Collies. I love them. I love their long noses, fluffy tails, and thick, luxurious coats. Keeping them cool in California during the summer can be a challenge, but it is doable, in spite of days with triple-digit heat. So, if you, too, have a heavy-coated dog, keep this in mind:
First off, don’t shave your dog. Shaving a long-coated dog actually makes it harder for them to stay cool. Dogs with heavy coats shake and fluff up their coats, trapping air in between the layers which cools them. If you shave them, they will overheat faster. Dark colors absorb heat, thus dark-coated dogs will absorb heat and overheat faster than light-coated dogs, regardless of coat density. Keep that in mind when planning outdoor time for your dark-coated canine friends.
Do get a kids’ wading pool and put cool water in it. Encourage your dog to stand in the pool. Cooling their feet helps to cool their whole body quickly. You can also put water on their heads to cool them quickly. You can even float ice cubes in the wading pool to attract their attention and keep the water cooler. If you freeze blueberries or piece of carrot in those ice cubes, it makes them readily visible and fun for your dog to catch.
Most people keep one water bowl…I keep three! Having multiple water bowls means if one is empty or the water has gotten warm, there are others to choose from.
Walk your dog early in the morning or late in the evening so that they don’t burn their feet. When the air temperature is 95′, the grass is 105′ in the sunshine, the cement is 124′ and the blacktop is a whopping 140′! Where I live, daytime air temperatures often are in the triple digits meaning walks are completely out of the question for all of us between about 11 a.m. and 7 p.m.
Offer treats that keep your dogs cool. I make my dogs popsicles using broth or liquid yogurt as a base and adding fruit or veggies to make it even more fun. Just use cut up bully sticks or carrots for the popsicle “stick” and your dogs will have a blast.
While air conditioning is great, adding fans is even better at spreading around the cool air. I use both ceiling cans and floor fans to keep the collies cool. My dogs are A/C vent hogs, however, and will lay on the vents blocking air flow to the room. To avoid that in your home, position the floor fans so that they blow the cool air out into the room for everyone to enjoy. Remember too that a large, industrial fan positioned in a window with the fan blowing outward will suck the hot air out of your home and blow it back outdoors where it belongs.
Cooling collars, cooling pads on their beds, and raised cot style beds round out the routine. Cooling collars won’t last long, but they will provide temporary relief. If you opt for a cooling pad on a pet bed or floor, just make sure your pet is supervised so that they don’t try to tear up the pad by digging at it, or chewing. Raised cot style beds are great for outdoors as they promote air circulation and get your dogs up off the hot ground. And if your pets are like mine, you may frequently find them on the cool tiles in your bathroom or kitchen or the hard wood floor in an effort to stay cool. I’ve known more than one dog who chose to lay in a shower or tub during a hot day to help stay cool.
Because animals don’t sweat, they have to pant and spread their bodies out on cool surfaces to cool themselves off. If you see your animal struggling to cool off, get their feet wet, put water on their heads, and observe them closely. If they continue to be in distress, head to your veterinarian’s office for help. Heat stroke is a very real risk during the summer, particularly for older dogs, puppies, and those dogs who are sick or immune compromised.
So, when the temperatures hit the triple digits here, I will be sitting by the fan eating popsicles with my collies. Stay cool everyone!
Here’s how to make doggy popsicles!