When temperatures soar, keeping your Service Dog cool, comfortable, and safe often proves challenging. Here are 6 ways to help your Service Dog beat the heat this summer.
Dog ice cream offers tons of options to help cool your dog down. It’s easy to make at home and there’s a recipe for everyone and every need. At its simplest, you can freeze kibble and water into cubes or into Kongs. You can bend peanut butter and bananas into a cream or purchase pre-made ice creams that are dog safe. However, you do it, have fun!
Frozen Busy Buckets
What do you get when you put stuffed kongs, swirls of peanut butter kibble, chunks of fruit and veggies, cloth strips, and other durable toys into a bucket, fill the bucket with water, and then freeze it? A ton of fun, that’s what! These fun DIY enrichment toys are often called “busy buckets” and they keep dogs happy for hours! Stick a rope into the bucket through the middle with 2-3 feet sticking out the top before you freeze it. When it’s frozen, pull it out of the bucket and hang it up. Your dog will work to get the goodies as the water melts, revealing them bit by bit.
Swimming provides great exercise and a good way to cool down! From a baby pool full of water or a bag of ice to creeks to full-size swimming pools, lots of dogs enjoy taking a dip. Be safe while swimming. Take appropriate breaks, use a life jacket in unfamiliar water, and don’t make a scared dog get in the water.
Hot pavement, asphalt, and other surfaces burn paws. Boots, eye protection, cooling coats, and other tools help keep your Service Dog more comfortable while out and about during the summer. Read more about summer safety for Service Dogs.
Dogs should never be left in a hot vehicle. Many tools exist, though, to make vehicles safer for dogs who need to stay in one. Wifi dongles allow visual monitoring of your vehicle and dog while you’re indoors. Specialize crate fans and nozzles that pull cold air from the front into the back of the vehicle help prevent hot spots and lack of circulation. Temperature regulation units keep your A/C running and alert you if the internal temp of the vehicle rises beyond a certain level. If you use a temperature regulation system, purchase one that alerts you to engine shut off, too.
Consider laminating a card that says something like “Hi! Yes, I’m a dog in a car and it’s hot outside. However, the vehicle is temperature regulated and monitored. If you’re concerned about me, text my owner at _______. Also, I’m enjoying my favorite tunes, so please don’t throw off my groove by trying to interact with me.” When you leave your dog inside your running vehicle, place the card in the window. It can prevent mishaps and miscommunication.
Finally, if you’re using any of the above options, be sure you can secure your vehicle. Carry a second key and lock the vehicle when you leave.
Time your outings to fall outside the hottest parts of the days. Morning and evenings are usually cooler throughout most of the U.S. In some parts, like the western U.S., it’s too hot all day to go out without boots or cooling coats, so be considerate of your partner’s comfort. Check weather forecasts for projected temperatures and plan accordingly.