Making the Decision Between Inside and Outside
Keeping your animals cool in the summer heat can be quite a challenge, especially with the extreme
temperatures much of the country seems to be experiencing today. However, according to some experts
it can be hard on a dog to bring them in and out, off and on, all day. Whereas a dog that remains
outside the majority of the time in warmer weather may have more of a chance to get used to it and
subsequently live with it easier than one who doesn't remain outside consistently. The problem with
the latter scenario is that even a dog that used to being outside in warmer weath- er has limits on
just how high a temperatures it can stand. For example, it would be hard for any dog
to endure a 100+, even 90+ heat index, even if they were used to the heat.
We live in a very hot, humid area of the country and over the years we've tried a mix of scenarios,
currently, our outside dogs become inside canines when the temperature is 86+ - period. We feel this
is a must since they are either older in age, or, are a cold climate dog breed. We try to make up
for the lack of exercise and interesting activities by allowing them to run for a few hours in
the morning before the temperatures hit the mid 80's and again in the evenings when it's cool enough.
It means getting up around sunrise, but we think they're worth it.
Just the same, in the past, when the summer was a little milder, we've decided to let them stay
outside the majority of the time. In doing so, we've found a few things that do seem to help
beat the heat some, and we wanted to share a few of those ideas with you.
To Shave or Not To Shave
First, let's explore a controversial subject, to shave or not to shave. Many believe that a dog
is much better off with their natural coat and that it provides a kind of insulation from the
heat, actually keeping them cooler. Personally, with our particular pyrenees, this never
appeared to be the case, their thick hair just seemed to make them hotter, dirtier and more
difficult to maintain. In the last few
years, we've decided to shave our dogs and this is our personal preference. However, there are a few disadvantages
to this technique that must be considered before you make your decision to shave or not to shave.
Most important, after a dog is shaved there is a very high risk of acquiring a dangerous, painful sunburn. We do two things
to address this concern, first we have the groomer leave about 1/4 inch of hair and then we still
leave the dog inside, completely out of the sun, during the sunlight hours, for about a week. The second
concern, and yes, this has been a problem for us, is that the hair stops growing in as thick,
natural and pretty as it otherwise would.
Just the same, for us personally, we feel the advantages
of shaving our dogs outweighs the disadvantages. Shaving your dog for the summer is actually an important
decision for both you and your dog and it should not be taken lightly. What works best for
one person's dog may not be what's best for your particular canine and you should always visit thoroughly with
both your veterinarian and groomer before deciding what will be best for your particular pet and it's specific needs.
The Two Absolute Musts
First and foremost, your dog will need plenty of fresh water available at all times. Ideally, this
means more than just sticking a little bowl of water out on the porch once a day. In the hot
months, you'll want to keep the bowl full, of course, but you'll also want to
change it several times a day to keep it cool. To keep it cool as long as possible you'll also
want to keep it in an area where it is shaded, you might also want to consider a plastic or
ceramic bowl, as a metal one will absorb the sun's heat and make it undrinkable faster. Something
else to consider, some puppies and playful dogs like to splash and stick their paws in their water,
quickly making it dirty and undrinkable - in such instances you might wish to consider an alternative
source of water such as an above ground mounted crock or
lixit water bottle.
A water bottle may not supply water fast enough, however, for high quanity requirements.
Also, since water bottles and
crocks hold less water you'll probably want to keep an alternative source around just in case.
Next, you'll want to make sure your dog has shade, preferably with a blowing breeze. If this area
is limited in size you'll want to be sure it has shade throughout the day as the location of the sun changes
course. A porch on the west side of the house might be pleasantly shaded and cool in the morning
but become unbearably hot and sunny by mid-afternoon. Remember, the sun does move throughout the day.
Additional Beat the Heat Ideas
Once your dog has the essentials, water and shade, you might wish to explore some other ideas
to help keep them cool. One thing that some of my fellow dog lovers swear by is a kiddie swimming
pool with about an inch of water. My dogs always enjoyed this, but once again, the water can
heat up quickly, so you'll need to keep it in the shade and refreshed often. My pyrenees puppy
loved playing in water so much that I had trouble keeping her from jumping in the horse's water trough's
and I had to switch to an alternative water source for my horses, one she couldn't reach. After all,
they need clean fresh water too.
There are also some interesting products available today to help cool your pet down during the
hot summer months. The
and similar products have grown particularly popular over the last few years.
It's designed to provide your pet with a cool area to lay on, as well as, provide cushioning
comfort for skin, body and joints. Once filled with water, it's easy to wipe clean
and close to maintenance free. We liked ours fine, however, it can be heavy when water
filled, so we found it best to keep it in one spot.
We've also had a lot of success with the
kuranda above ground dog bed, our dogs love them and our little
pygmy goat does too. We have three. They work well during all seasons, in the summer they help get your pet
up and into the breeze, and, in the winter they help by getting them off the cold damp ground. We
also like the comfort factor that their taut hammock style construction seems to offer too.
Micro-bead wearable products have also become popular, we think these are a great idea when
your with your pets and you can keep an eye on them. Under these circumstances, not only our pets
but we do too. Current choices include
body wraps filled with
micro beads, once soaked in cool water for about twenty minutes, these products provide a kind of
cooling effect as the water evaporates from the beads. A bandana soaked in ice water, then wrung out
also helps a little, but for a much shorter period of time. For safety reasons, we do feel
strongly that your pets should not wear micro bead products or any other hanging objects, when left unattended,
as they can catch and hang up on fencing and other items.
Fans are often utilized and there are some nifty battery operated
crate fans for time limited situations.
However, for everyday long term use we've always been concerned regarding safety issues with most fans, since
they involve electric cords and are usually designed for outside rather than inside useage.
We've also tried misters but found that they made the ground below very wet and that our pets didn't like
sitting under them. But they may be worth a try and work for others under different circumstances.
Clearly, the summer heat and your pet's safety is something to taken very seriously. What will
work best for both you and your pet will vary from situation to situation and dog to dog, depending
on your dog's age, their health, their body size and hair, available shade, your ability to keep
their water fresh and clean, actual temperatures, humidity levels and more. It's always advisable
to visit thoroughly with your veterinarian regarding this and other issues, before making any decisions on lifestyle, products,
grooming or general pet care, regarding their advice on what will be best for your pet's specific needs.