There's basically nothing you wouldn't do to keep your dog happy, but when it comes to making him comfortable in the summer heat, it's hard to know what your dog wants. (Seriously, when are we going to perfect the technology that lets us read our pet's mind?) Every pup has his own preferences, so one dog may love ice cubes, while another may be inexplicably terrified of them. Experiment with a bunch of easy hacks to find the ones that help your favorite furry friend stop panting and enjoy the 10th nap of the day in comfort.
1. Use a Cooling Mat
Some dogs won't be convinced to lie on a cooling mat, but for other dogs, this kind of mat creates a perfect place to comfortably rest on a hot day. Cooling mats are pressure activated, so there's nothing to plug in or charge, and they can even be used outdoors. Just watch your step since they tend to be slippery and may be a fall hazard if they're placed in pathways.
2. Serve Frozen Treats
If your dog never gets to enjoy dog-safe ice cream, what's even the point of summer? Frozen treats will cool down your pup the same way they do for you. In addition to the occasional ice cream snack, experiment with making your own treats in ice cube trays. Frozen yogurt mixed with fruit and peanut butter may appeal to your dog, or you can simply freeze beef broth or some other dog-safe liquid.
3. Create a Shady Patch Outdoors
If your dog wants to hang out in the sun, fine – but make sure there's always a comfy shade option when you're hanging outdoors together. Hang a tarp between two trees or make an angled shelter by connecting one end of the tarp to a tree or fence and staking the other end to the ground. A simple pop-up sun shelter like you might take to the beach also creates enough shade for the average dog (not that there's anything average about your dog).
4. Cool Paws After Walks
The hot asphalt is brutal on your bare feet. Your dog's paws are better equipped to withstand extreme temperatures, but we can assume it doesn't feel great to take a long walk down a hot road on a sweltering day. Even when you cut walks short and stick mostly to grass instead of pavement, your dog might enjoy a quick swipe of a cool, wet cloth across the bottom of the paws when she comes inside.
5. Make a Wading Pool
Some dogs won't tolerate having their paws wiped but will be thrilled to soak their toes in a few inches of cool water. Use a durable, plastic kiddie pool and keep it near the door so your dog can step in if he wants to after a walk. If you can't find a kiddie pool and have a small dog, try using the kind of plastic storage bin designed to fit under a bed. A dog who wants to play in the cool water won't care what the pool is made from.
6. Use Frozen Chew Toys
We give teething toddlers cold chew toys, so why shouldn't dogs get them too? Cold chew toys are used for teething puppies, but a hot dog of any age might enjoy a cool toy. Don't just stick your dog's favorite toy in the freezer, though. Buy a chew toy that's specifically designed to be frozen so you know that toy won't crack or degrade in cold temperatures.
7. Tie On a Cooling Bandana
There is literally no dog alive who doesn't look great in a bandana. Use that to your advantage by tying a cold bandana around your pup's neck. It should help your dog cool down and makes for a perfect photo opportunity. Buy a cooling bandana that's designed for dogs or in a pinch, soak a regular bandana in cool water.
8. Give Your Dog a Cool Sleeping Spot
Even if your dog is normally a couch fiend, she might prefer to nap on the floor when it's really sweltering. Being pressed against thick fabric may make a furry body even hotter. So, set up an elevated dog bed near an oscillating fan. This kind of bed sits just a few inches off the ground and has a base made of ventilated material, so even a small dog can easily climb up and feel air circulating all around her body.
9. Find New Grassy Places to Explore
Because hot pavement is tough on their feet, summer is the perfect time to take dogs on new adventures outside of your neighborhood and its steamy sidewalks. Large, grassy spaces are a more comfortable place for your dog to take care of business. Use a hot day as the motivator to explore a park you and your dog have never visited before or haven't visited recently.
10. Make an Ice Lick
An ice lick serves two purposes: It keeps your pup cool, and it keeps him occupied. Having a frozen, yummy surface to lick gives the dog a soothing activity (perfect during summer thunderstorms or other anxious moments), and we can presume that it feels pretty great on a hot day. Fill a bowl with any sort of dog-friendly liquid plus additives like chunks of meat or dog treats and freeze it completely. Run hot water over the bowl to release the ice lick and then set it into your dog's bowl or on the ground and let him go wild.