Summer is coming, but all our dogs still need exercise. Here are some tips on how to beat the heat with your dog.
First, if at all possible walk the dog at night, but we all know that sometimes our schedules just don’t work out that way. If you have to walk your dog during the daytime — especially around the peak heat time of 4 p.m. — it is critical that you provide some way for your dog to cool down. One of the easiest ways to do this is to soak a bandana in water and put it in the freezer for 15 to 20 minutes and tie this around your dog’s neck before going on a walk. The water will help keep their neck cool, and as much of their blood runs through that area, the rest of their body as well. Some pet parents even invest in a spray bottle full of water, that way they can mist down their pup throughout the walk.
Paw pads, too, can be victim to the heat. Excessive heat on the paws can cause a dog’s paw pad to actually crack much like our heels do, but it can be deeper and much more painful for your dog. I love this product called “Paw Balm” (can be purchased at many pet stores) that restores moisture to your dog’s paws with a thick balm. Applying this nightly when your dog is tired after a walk will restore that moisture to their paws and prevent cracking. I recommend doing this when your dog is lying down after a long day. They’ll enjoy the massage and you’ll not have to worry about a future vet bill.
For the more squirmy dogs, I would recommend buying dog shoes. Yes, dog shoes. It may sound silly, but by putting shoes on you can guarantee the safety of your dog’s feet and know that they will be protected from asphalt, sidewalk, etc. Most dogs hate wearing them, but to encourage them, I suggest making a big fuss about it — “Look how pretty you are with your shoes, Fido!” “Oh my goodness, Marley, you just look so handsome in your shoes!” Silly, but everyone, including animals, loves to be complimented, and making a big deal out of wearing the shoes will help them get used to wearing them.
Last but not least, invest in sunscreen, especially if you have a dark-coated dog. I recommend mist-on baby sunscreen that applies to the fur and won’t hurt their eyes if they are moving around when you apply it. Spraying on the top of the head and back are the most crucial areas, as dogs do get sunburned, which can cause itching and discomfort for your dog. In fact, many of my past customers believed their dog had fleas when in fact they had dry skin from a previous sunburn.
By keeping these in mind, you can assure a safe, happy summer for both you and your canine friend.
• Ahwatukee resident Kristin Barker is a dog trainer at the PetSmart in Tempe on Elliot Road near Hardy Drive.