The summer sun is finally here and while we humans relish the chance to soak up the rays, the hot weather can be a real problem for our canine companions. With their thick coats and difficulty producing sweat to regulate their body temperature, dogs struggle in the heat and face dangers like overheating, dehydration and sunburn.
However, that doesn’t mean our furry friends should miss out on enjoying the garden. As dog owners, it’s up to us to help our pets beat the heat. With a few simple steps, you can create an outdoor haven to keep your pooch safe and happy when the temperatures rise.
This summer, make your green space a refuge where your four-legged friend can chill out in comfort and style. Follow these tips to keep your pup feeling cool as a cucumber in the garden this summer!
Providing plenty of shade with plants
While we know too much sun exposure can lead to risks like sunburn, heat stroke and dehydration in dogs, creating shade in your garden is an easy way to let your pup soak up the summer vibes safely. Trees, shrubs and climbers are natural sun blockers providing a variety of thick, cool canopies to shelter under. Shady plants that are safe for dogs can include:
Lupins – These tall perennials can grow up to 4 feet tall and produce beautiful spikes of flowers in summer.
Beehive Ginger – This tropical plant can grow up to 6 feet tall and produces stunning red flowers that resemble beehives.
Perennial Hibiscus – This plant can grow up to 5 feet tall and produces large, showy flowers in shades of pink, red, and white.
Giant Viper’s Bugloss – This biennial plant can grow up to 6 feet tall and produces striking blue flowers in summer.
Giant Fennel – This plant can grow up to 8 feet tall and produces beautiful yellow flowers in summer.
On the other hand, for instant shade, you can’t beat an attractive pergola or gazebo. Pergolas are made from weather-resistant timber or aluminium and use louvered slats that allow dappled light through while still protecting your pooch from the harsh summer sun.
You can also drape shade sails, mesh or outdoor curtains over pergolas for extra coverage. Place items like your dog’s house, bed and toys under shade to give them designated outdoor lounging spots out of the sun.
Cooling water features for extended fun
Paddling pools, sprinklers and mist-making fans are easy ways to chill out your dog. Place a kiddie pool in a shady spot and fill it with a few inches of cool water for your dog to splash around in but keep watch to ensure that it doesn’t become a new toilet.
Misters or sprinklers, set on a timer, will mist your garden periodically to drop the temperature or provide a source of cooling hydration for your pet, just be sure the water is dog-friendly and the misters are out of chewing reach.
Ice cubes and frozen dog treats also help dogs stay hydrated while lowering body heat. Add ice cubes to your dog’s water bowls or treats like frozen, dog-friendly treats. Place bowls of water in shady parts of the garden so the water doesn’t get too warm in the sun.
Designing a shady dog zone
Give your dog their own summer retreat in the garden by designating a shady space just for them. You can do this by sectioning off an area with some stakes and netting or fencing and fill it with your dog’s essentials – a bed, water bowl, toys and anything else that will make them comfortable.
Within their space, set up activities to keep your dog entertained on hot days. Some chew toys that can be stuffed in the freezer and interactive dog puzzles with treats are great for beating boredom and keeping them engaged. Burying treats or toys in a sandpit or dirt mound provides mental stimulation as they dig to uncover the treasures.
It’s important to avoid leaving your dog unattended on a nice day, even if they seem to be lapping the sun up. Always supervise your dog in the garden during summer and make sure they have constant access to shade, chilled water and cooling features to prevent overheating.
Including drinking areas is crucial
Keeping your dog hydrated in hot weather is essential for their health and safety. Make sure your dog has constant access to fresh, cool water during summer by placing multiple bowls around the garden, especially in shady spots. Replace water regularly and consider using bowls that cannot be tipped over easily to avoid having to keep checking on them.
In addition to water, we can encourage dogs to drink by chilling broths or giving them frozen treats. Pupsicles, frozen chicken broth cubes or coconut oil cubes help lower body temperature while upping moisture intake.
Monitor how much your dog is drinking on hot days. Take them for extra toilet breaks, especially if they’re drinking more, to ensure heat stroke signs are not appearing. If your dog shows symptoms of overheating like excessive panting, vomiting or bright red gums, lower their body temperature immediately and consult a vet right away.
Avoiding the hottest parts of the day
The hottest hours of summer days are typically 11 am to 3 pm and it’s best to avoid bringing your dog outside and limiting their sun exposure at these peak heat times. Heat stroke is life-threatening and dogs can overheat quickly in midday heat, even in the shade.
If you must venture outside during peak heat, closely monitor your dog for signs of overheating like excessive panting, drooling or collapse. Dogs appreciate shorter, frequent walks when the sun and temperatures are lower early and late in the day.
Save longer activities for cooler weather, even if that means your dog goes without something they do regularly. They know their routine so to avoid disappointing them completely, find alternative activities, like scent games or teaching them new tricks, ensures they are still getting much-needed mental stimulation.
With care and common sense, dogs can still enjoy summer if peak heat is avoided and precautions taken during the hottest parts of the day. In your garden, give them plenty of shade, access to water and always supervise them.