Nothing could be better than a warm day at the beach spent relaxing, playing in the waves, and soaking up the sun except, of course, doing so with Fido in tow! After all, being outdoors with man’s best friend is a no-brainer: most pups love water, sunbathing, and the feel of sand beneath their feet just as much as humans. Unlike humans, however, dogs are not able to cool themselves as efficiently. On hot days, keeping a dog comfortable at the beach is an important matter of health and safety. Listed below are a number of suggestions for cooling your dog on a hot day.
#1: Bring Water
While this should be a no-brainer, be sure to pack plenty of fresh water and a bowl for your dog. Do not expect that your dog will stay cool by drinking water from a lake or ocean, as this can be dangerous. Many portable dog bowl options exist, and are available at many pet stores or outdoor retailers. If your pup isn’t a fan of drinking when away from home, try to entice him or her by sprinkling in a small amount of Gatorade or Kool-Aid powdered drink mix (just be sure never to use a sugar-free formula).
#2: Dig a Hole
Sand below the surface will be much cooler, and therefore much more comfortable for your dog. Dig a small hole for your pup to lounge in, approximately 1 -2 ft deep. If the weather is particularly hot, consider dumping a few buckets of water into the hole for additional cooling properties. This activity is especially fun for children at the beach who may need a job to do.
#3: Play in the Waves
If your dog is confident in water, allow him or her to cool off by splashing in the waves. Since dogs are unable to sweat, their cooling mechanism relies on the lowering of core body temperature. Avoid playing in the water if there are choppy waves or dangerous conditions, and always keep your dog on a leash in public areas.
#4: Pack an Umbrella
Keep your dog out of direct sunlight by providing a shady area. Prop an umbrella in the sand over a blanket or hole to give your dog some respite from the heat. Be sure to place his or her water bowl in the shade, as well, to keep the drink from becoming hot in the sun.
#5: Purchase a Cooling Vest or Mat
Some dogs, typically large breeds or those with short snouts, are especially inefficient at cooling themselves and can really suffer when out in the sun for extended periods of time. For pups like these, consider purchasing a dog cooling coat or mat. These vests, which fit like a harness, are available in a number of styles. Some are made to be dunked in water and then placed on your dog for core cooling, while others have removable cooling inserts which can keep your dog comfortable for hours. Mats are available with similar technology as well.
#6: Pack Ice
Most dogs love to eat ice as a treat. Packing a cooler with ice chips or dog-friendly popsicles can help keep your dog comfortable and hydrated as the temperature rises. Also consider freezing a large tub of chicken broth/water to take with you. Not only will this large, icy treat entice your dog to continue staying hydrated throughout your stay at the beach, but will also keep him or her entertained!
#7: Stay Home During Peak Sun Hours
Avoid going to the beach when the sun is hottest – typically between the hours of 11:00 AM and 2:00 PM. Instead, choose cooler times of the day when the sun is not directly overhead, which will be most comfortable for dog and human alike!
#8: Give a Proper Haircut
In the summer months, give your dog an appropriate haircut. Unless your dog has a double coat (such as a German Shepherd or Siberian Husky), in which his or her undercoat acts as a cooling layer, consider shaving your dog for added comfort. Dogs with unnecessarily long or matted fur are especially uncomfortable in the heat, as the excess fur traps the sun’s rays. Remember, however, to always apply sunscreen to any exposed skin!