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This week, Western Washington will hit 100-degree temps. When I saw the weather report, I jumped in my car and visited several stores – all were out of kiddie pools. So I turned to social media to get ideas on ways that I can keep our dogs cool on hot days and what I learned inspired this blog post.
I have to keep my dogs cool. It's pretty easy except for Scout. While Rodrigo, Zoey, and Apollo will find shade or water to cool down, Scout will run until he collapses and we've had a couple of close calls in past summers. So we take summers very seriously around here because we're not used to these high temps – so the dogs stay home (no car rides) and we try to keep them cool and happy.
Summer in the Pacific Northwest
Summer in the Pacific Northwest is mild compared to the rest of the country; at least it used to be mild. When I was a kid, summer days included Pop Shop Pop, jumping through the sprinklers, Slip ‘n Slides, frozen popsicles, and oscillating fans in front of the windows.
Today, summer days are about baking on the surface of the sun, hiding in the house from the rays, and trying to find cool foods and treats that don't add 5 pounds to my hips and thighs.
In this post, I share a list of ideas that help keep our dogs cool.
Keeping the House Cool with AC Units
We don't have central air so I open all the windows and turn on our overhead fans to let the house get as cold as possible, turning on the portable AC units around 9:30 to keep the house reasonably chill for the day. Central air isn't a big thing in houses in the Pacific Northwest. I expect that this will start changing because these heatwaves are becoming more consistent.
Right now, the house feels nice. We picked up our portable AC units at Home Depot (We chose units that double as heaters for the winter). Portable AC units can be found at most large hardware, warehouse, and “one stop shopping” stores.
Well, not today because the city is sold out.
Remove the Undercoat to Cool Dogs Down
DO NOT CUT YOUR DOG'S HAIR!!!
I know it's tempting. I look at Rodrigo and Apollo, both have thicker coats, and it's easy to think that they'd feel so much better with a shorter coat – NOPE. If I go too short, the dogs will get hotter, and they have a higher risk of sun burn.
Instead, I've been brushing the dogs several times a week to remove the undercoat.
Rodrigo has the longest coat and we do trim his hair by an inch or two, which cools him down. Despite his fear of noisy things, he sits patiently for his trim and we can tell that he feels tons better afterwards. We ran this by a groomer years ago, getting tips on how to give him a cut without going too short.
We use the Wahl Deluxe U-Clip Dog Clipper Kit. I won't win any grooming contests, but the trim is effective.
We Feed Our Dogs Cold Meals on Hot Days
Well, actually, we feed our dogs cold meals nearly every day.
My dogs eat a raw diet, so their meals are cold. When the “hot days” are in the 70s (75 F is perfection), then I'll add raw meaty bones to the daily meals. But for this weekend, the dogs get a heavier meal in the morning and a frozen treat in the afternoon with a light meal in the evening.
We feed raw meaty bones in the yard and it's too hot this weekend to feed the dogs raw bones – the temps hit 80 degrees before noon.
And that's not all.
Although raw food diets are higher in liquid than kibble diets, when it's hot outside, I make sure to add more liquids to the diet (bone broth, fermented fish stock, turkey stock, or water). We also spend the day refreshing the water dishes – making sure that the water is cool and clean and won't deter any of the dogs from drinking their fill.
3 Easy DIY Frozen Treats for Dogs
There are tons of frozen treat recipes on the internet, but I'm all about easy with my dogs, so I'll be freezing the following in small Rubbermaid containers (preferable to ice cube trays) for the dogs:
1 – bone broth – I received a freezer dump from friends and have been making bone broth all week. I poured bone broth into individual containers, adding dog treats (freeze-dried organ bites, etc.), and put in the freezer overnight.
2 – veggie mix with bone broth and meat – I also made my veggie mix too. The dogs won't be interested in a frozen vegetable lump, so I'll be mixing it with bone broth and cooked meat (from the bone broth). They're going to LOVE this.
3 – raw goat's milk with berries – I thawed a 1/2 gallon of raw goat's milk which I'll be adding to containers, sprinkling in chia seeds, blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries.
If I had the freezer space, I'd ,make ice licks for the dogs (freeze blocks of ice with food frozen inside). I love this idea because the dogs have to work to get to the food. But I also spent the week filling every inch of my freezers, so this isn't happening this month.
Playing with the Dogs on Hot Days
The Puller Rings and ChuckIt Launchers will be put away for the weekend and the dogs will get to trot around and explore the property. We only allow 15-20 minutes every hour or so to keep the dogs from overheating. Bringing them in for water (sometimes spiked with bone broth to encourage drinking) afterward to keep them hydrated.
We have several ponds on the property and if the dogs can manage to enjoy the ponds without pulling up the water lilies, then there will be a lot of swimming and wading this weekend.
The trick is to exercise our dogs just enough that they're not bouncing off the walls in the middle of the night. This is pretty easy to accomplish with my pack because although they are active, they don't have the energy levels of some breeds out there.
7 Swimming Pool Ideas to Keep Your Dogs Cool
I'm not sad that we missed out on the kiddie pools because they only last a season and they're a pain in the butt to dispose of – either we need to break it down for the trash or spend $20 at the dump to get rid of pools that cost less than $10. Well, you get what you pay for, right?
Anyway, did you know that for humans keeping the feet and ankles cool helps to cool the entire body? I wonder if this is the same for dogs. I know that every time I felt overheated, I walked in circles in the dog pool and felt refreshed.
1 – Large Animal Feeders and Water Troughs
If you have a feed store in your town, stop by and pick up a large animal feeder. They come in all sizes, all the way up to the size of a swimming pool (we have one at our local Coastal). The upside is that these will last forever. The interior won't be punctured by dog nails, chewing, or rough housing.
The downside to these (for us) is that the sides are pretty high, so I'm not sure if our dogs will jump in (maybe we can use the ramp to make it easier). And the ones that I'd need for my dogs (due to their size) are expensive.
2 – Order a Foldable Pools for the Dogs
A lot of people recommended foldable pools. There are pools for kids (Costco has a few) and dogs (Chewy.com and Amazon). What I like about the foldable pools is that they are sturdier than the cheap kiddie pools, we can fold them up at the end of the season and store in the shed, and we only have to buy this one time instead of every year.
I ordered a foldable pool from Chewy.com to arrive right as the hot weekend from hell starts. It took 10 minutes to fill with cold water and I enjoyed it immensely. The dogs treated it like a giant water dish.
3 – Combine Tarps and Raised Garden Beds to Make a Pool
The simplest idea that was shared was to get four good-sized pieces of wood to create walls of a square or rectangle shape (no floor needed), line with a tarp, and fill with water. What came to mind were raised beds. The standard raised bed gardens are too small to make a pool, but it shouldn't be a problem to find the wood needed to create a pool for the dogs.
The upside is that this is easy to do and, at the end of the summer, we can take it down, store the wood and tarp in the shed to bring out next year. The downside is that the cost of wood is insane right now, but we only need four pieces so it may be worth the investment. And, if you know where to look, you can pick up pallets for cheap or free.
4 – Take the Above Idea and Swap Out Wood for Hay Bales
Another fantastic idea. Instead of using wood, you can use hay bales – organized in a square or rectangle, lined with a tarp or pool liner, and add rocks to hold secure. Boom! You have a pool for your dogs and it looks all rustic.
This is another thing that would be easy for us to do because we live in a rural town – plenty of hay bales available for purchase right now.
5 – Large Storage Totes
People specifically recommended the storage totes that can be stored underneath a bed. I love this idea for small dogs and puppies, but it wouldn't work for my dogs. Currently, Costco has their giant totes on sale, but they're still too small for my dogs.
Check out Home Depot and similar stores for larger totes before you write off this idea.
6 – Fish Ponds Can Make Great Dog Pools
We are very familiar with fish ponds. We have koi and we're planning to relocate their pond later this summer. Fish ponds come in various sizes, including sizes that are large enough for all four of our dogs and me too. Fish ponds are sturdy, but they're not collapsible, so storage can be an issue depending on the size. I'd like to install the pond in-ground, as intended, but make it exclusive for the dogs (no fish).
7- Dig a Swimming Hole or Creek
Got an excavator? We do. Someone shared that they dug a 2′ x 8 ‘ hole, lined it with pond liner, and put heavy rocks around the edge. This is so doable for us and I can't believe I never thought of it before. I'll have to run this idea by my partner; he's pretty particular about our property, but I think if we can find a good place for the “pool,” he'll be on board.
4 Alternatives if You Don't have Space for a Pool
Not everyone has the space for a pool, even a small kiddie pool, but that doesn't mean that they're out of luck. Here are four more ideas to keep your dogs cool on hot days.
1 – Oscillating Sprinkler
This recommendation made me smile because I remember jumping through the sprinklers in bathing suits as kids. Why did we need a bathing suit on for a sprinkler? I love the idea of a sprinkler and we have several to use and I may set one up for myself. The dogs, however, aren't fans of the sprinklers, but someone suggested something that might work.
2 – Outdoor Misting Fans
I was introduced to misting fans when I was in Arizona. It never occurred to me that this was something that we could buy for our homes. I was on Clubhouse with a group of agility trainers and they use misting fans to keep their dogs cool on trips and recommended the RYOBI portable bucket top misting fan kit.
This is a cool idea. No pun intended.
3 – Cooling Vests for Dogs
That same group of agility trainers recommended RUFFWEAR Swamp Cooler Evaporative Dog Cooling Vest. This is a vest that provides sun protection, keeps the dogs cool, while allowing us to be outside with our dogs safely. While I don't plan on going hiking with my dogs on hot days, it's nice to know that we can play with the dogs without fear of them getting overheated.
4 – Cooling Mats and Elevated Beds
We have a cooling mat for Rodrigo, but he rarely lays on it so I put it away. The other dogs didn't show much of an interest either. I might bring it out to sit on when I'm working. Someone should benefit.
The top 7 highest rated (4 stars or higher) cooling mats and elevated beds on Chewy.com are…
- The Green Pet Shop Cool Pet Pad
- Arf Pets Self-Cooling Solid Gel Dog Crate Mat
- Frisco Steel-Framed Elevated Dog Bed*
- K&H Pet Products Original Bolster Elevated Dog Bed*
- K&H Pet Products Elevated Dog Bed*
- K&H Pet Products Cot Canopy for Elevated Dog Bed
- Gen7Pets Cool-Air Cot Elevated Dog Bed
*We have these beds and the dogs love them, they're high quality, and long lasting.
Stay cool this summer!