May 27, 2014 3:55 PM   Subscribe

How can I keep my dog cool during the summer months during walkies when it is still over 90 degrees out during the night?

The littlest peanut gets 5 walks a day right now - wakeup walk, walk to work, lunch walk, walk home, bedtime walk - of which 2 or more are totally unproductive, so as the weather gets hotter I think we will scale back to early morning and late night only. Since she's a frenchie she is already predisposed to heatstroke, plus she has soft palate issues which make her breathing very stertorous. Her dark coloring also adds to the problem.

When we get home she gets cold water and ice packs to lay down on, plus the A/C, but what can I do for her while we are actually walking? The main problem is that she doesn't seem to be able to figure out how to pee and poop in under 30 minutes of walking.

Vet and internets both say to keep her indoors and in A/C if it is over 90 degrees outside, but what to do when it is still 90 or higher at night? Last summer there were 2 full weeks of 100+ temperatures even past sundown. Does she need a sun hat? Do I need to make her a little climate controlled astronaut suit? Duct tape ice packs to her tummy? Carry her in a bucket of water?

I have plenty of weewee pads but even immediately after her surgery last month she was unwilling to use them. I don't want to force her to do so by just leaving her indoors until she can't hold it anymore as that seems horribly cruel.

I also have a collapsible water dish and carry a bottle of water on walks but thus far she has been uninterested.

posted by elizardbits to Pets & Animals (29 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Can you use a furminator to help remove some excess hair? I am doing that with my pug to help with shedding and my allergies, but a little less fur might help her keep a bit cooler.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:59 PM on May 27, 2014

Best answer: I have a cooling vest for my dog that seems to help on walks. I also encourage him to stop and take a break when he starts panting, which is often, cause he's a pug and their respiratory situations are shit.
posted by diamondsky at 4:03 PM on May 27, 2014 [6 favorites]

before you go on your walk, fill a bottle with water and ice. pour the water in your hand and rub your dog down with it. the walk will take longer, but it might help. (or a spray bottle filled with ice water, if he's good with them you can mist him down.)

i've also seen these on some of the dogs around my 'hood when it starts to get warm.
posted by koroshiya at 4:04 PM on May 27, 2014

Awww, such a cutie! My pug and I stick to the shade, preferably off the concrete, and stop every ten minutes for a rest and a little drink. Sometimes I even drizzle a little water onto his head. This seems to do the trick.
posted by rpfields at 4:04 PM on May 27, 2014

When I used to walk my black lab in the midwestern summertime heat I'd pour a bottle of ice water over him halfway through our 30-minute walk. He loved it and it seemed to energize him. I'd also find an out-of-the way spot (i.e., one with no distractions) to pour him water in a bowl and would just stand around waiting until he decided to drink.
posted by hapax_legomenon at 4:12 PM on May 27, 2014

Yup, water on the head over here, too. Truman always looks at me incredulously as I do it but he's always more chipper after I wet his head. Sometimes when it's really hot I wet down his paws, too.
posted by phunniemee at 4:30 PM on May 27, 2014 [2 favorites]

Keeping their feet cool is really important, so it would be best if you can walk her somewhere on grass instead of concrete or asphalt.
posted by bolognius maximus at 5:08 PM on May 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

What an adorable dog!

They make collars that hold ice cubes. Or fake ice cubes (thus reusable). You could get one or make some variation with a bandana.

My dog likes a wading pool with water in it. I guess you can't carry that with you, though. :)

Find shady places to walk - this makes a huge difference for my dog. If it is over 85 here, I actually touch the road to see how hot it is. If it is too hot to touch, it's definitely too hot for the dog. I also have to be careful of melted tar stuff here (no sidewalks).

You can get a cooling vest, as recommended above, or just try an old t-shirt - get it wet, put it on the dog, and as it evaporates, presto, cooler dog. This may require a little experimentation for fit. If it's a long walk or super hot, you can always carry a spare wet t-shirt in a plastic bag, too.

Also, with a black dog like yours, merely putting a white t-shirt on her (wet or dry) will cool her off.
posted by AllieTessKipp at 5:25 PM on May 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

My dogs drink water on command, by the way, and this is easy to teach. Every time you happen to be near the dog and she is drinking, say "Have some water! Good dog!" and presto, in a few weeks you have a cue.
posted by AllieTessKipp at 5:26 PM on May 27, 2014

Response by poster: re: concrete - in order to get her to a place where there is grass or indeed any other surface than pavement/concrete/cobblestones, I would have to walk her longer than she can stand in the heat.

Also there are large stretches where there is no available shade, and getting her to walk under an umbrella I am holding is a tragic exercise in folly and despair.

I like the idea of the swamp cooler vest but I don't know how well it would work when the humidity is so intense that it's raising the heat index by 20 degrees or more.
posted by elizardbits at 5:37 PM on May 27, 2014

She is so cute!

Can you put her in a stroller, wagon or baby carriage (with some cooling supplies in it if desired) and push her to a place with grass and shade? Also seconding the idea of a wading pool.
posted by BibiRose at 6:03 PM on May 27, 2014

Can you use a furminator to help remove some excess hair? I am doing that with my pug to help with shedding and my allergies, but a little less fur might help her keep a bit cooler.

Because dogs don't sweat, removing fur actually removes the layer of insulation that helps keep them cooler. More info here.

I would go for the cooling vest.
posted by oneirodynia at 6:38 PM on May 27, 2014

Best answer: The Chillybuddy is basically one of those aluminum mesh cloths that people put in car windows, turned into a coat for a dog. You can read the blurb, sounds like it was researched and tested more than most dog products. Don't think it would do much after dark but looks good for your morning walks, maybe better than a coat that relies on evaporative cooling if you're having high humidity. It can be wetted, though, if you find that helps.
posted by HotToddy at 7:09 PM on May 27, 2014 [2 favorites]

Maybe use some sort of battery-operated handheld fan that you attach to the lead close to pup? Or, just carry it and point it at her every few minutes?

This is the first result I found for "handheld fan" at Amazon: Carabiner Hand Held Fan with Light

Here's a portable battery-operated fan that looks to be a little bigger and possibly more powerful: O2cool 5" Battery Operated Portable Fan

posted by SuperSquirrel at 7:29 PM on May 27, 2014

You're right, evaporative cooling doesn't work well in high humidity - since she's so little, could you get an insulated lunchbag with a gelpack insert, and cut out the bottom, and use it as a sort of tube jacket thing to hold a cool pack on her? Or one of those gelpack headache bands that strap on?

It's sort of amazing that there don't seem to be any actual cold-pack jackets, just the evaporative ones and cold-pack collars that would be way too big for her.
posted by gingerest at 8:56 PM on May 27, 2014

I would try these ideas, but my feeling is that it's probably best to concentrate efforts on getting her to do her business on cue and thereby cut the exposure time short, and also get her to learn to be okay with going on the pee pads when necessary.

I'd begin working on a go-potty command by using a key phrase and rewarding/praising when she pees/poos. My dog is super responsive to food rewards, so that's what I used to originally housetrain and later, with a command phrase attached, to "night train" her (I get her to go outside and pee just before we go to bed, to avoid overnight accidents). To night train her, I started saying "Good girl go peepee!" in a particular congratulatory singsong way whenever she did her regular business on normal walks, then at night I'd take her out to the back yard, and say the same thing, and if she peed, much effusive, happy praise and a delicious treat. Very quickly, the moment I'd suggest "peepee," she was racing like a mad thing to the back door to get outside and pee and get her treat. (Before that I'd let her out and she'd amble outside and stand there for a minute just to be polite, then turn around come back in.)

So, I would start with connecting the key phrase with her doing her business, then see if you can get her to respond to the phrase and go when you use it, and cut the walks down to 10 minutes when it's crazy hot. I'd also practice with puppy pads by putting them in one specific place (bathroom?) and priming with her own urine in the beginning, so she associates them with a place to wee, etc. I did this with newspaper to teach our dog where to go to pee when not on a walk (back yard courtyard thing).

I know it's hard, because the main thing that dogs want is NOT CHANGE. Don't change the procedure!!! No changes at all plz! And it seems sort of awful to change this one basic thing they want: "can I please just have my simple pee/poo time in a civilized way?" But extreme heat for at-risk dogs is a serious enough problem to override that, and having reasonable options is going to be useful in other situations where a full walk isn't wise, or possible. You might try getting some tips from a good dog trainer about the best way to tailor this for your little peanut.
posted by taz at 1:23 AM on May 28, 2014 [4 favorites]

Can you play with her inside in the AC in a way that involves her running around, and then take her out for a quick walk? Some peopledogs really need the stimulus of moving in order to wake up their digestion (others just enjoy the walk, but if she hasn't figured out how to go quickly when it's miserable then she probably needs the movement). You may have to do a bunch of really short trips during the transition period, "Do you have to go yet? No? Back inside," but if you keep her moving nature should eventually take its course, then pat and praise, etc.
posted by anaelith at 3:14 AM on May 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

They make gel pack bandanas you put in the freezer. I think we got ours on Thinkgeek. We have a chocolate lab who gets hot easily and the icy cold bandana definitely helped him.
posted by Kimberly at 4:29 AM on May 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Unfortunately she is not at all treat motivated, or as the vet likes to put it, "super spoiled". She was an incredibly pampered little princess in her last home and turns her nose up at all treats except freshly grilled steak. But I will definitely try the bouncy playtime before walks idea!

Also we learned last night that she likes popsicles a lot so I will try carrying a low sugar one on our next superhot walk.
posted by elizardbits at 6:00 AM on May 28, 2014

in order to get her to a place where there is grass or indeed any other surface than pavement/concrete/cobblestones, I would have to walk her longer than she can stand in the heat.

Also there are large stretches where there is no available shade, and getting her to walk under an umbrella I am holding is a tragic exercise in folly and despair.

This is why dog strollers exist.

You could throw a couple of chew-proof (hard) ice packs in the stroller with her and take her to a nice shady dog park.
posted by Jacqueline at 7:00 AM on May 28, 2014

Also we learned last night that she likes popsicles a lot

Don't know if this is an issue for you, but sometimes my dog is a dummy about drinking water. As in, he'll be panting and miserable but won't go drink water and sometimes I actually have to mash his face in the bowl before he realizes "oh right, I'm supposed to be drinking water, water is good."

During the summer months I keep no-sodium chicken broth in the fridge. He will always drink chilled chicken broth. It's my emergency tool for keeping him hydrated.
posted by phunniemee at 7:17 AM on May 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Yeah, she gets a little derpy about drinking sometimes so I squeeze some from a paper towel into her mouth and she gets the idea.

Also the nearest dog park is about 20 blocks away and has very little shade, unfortunately. It does have some splashy pools though which she might enjoy. I have the keys to a small private garden but people get super huffy if you bring a dog in, which is totally understandable as there are very nice (some edible) plants there. I might just get her some summer booties for the hottest days.

I have a backyard but it feels really unneighborly to let her do her business out there, no matter how well I clean up afterwards.

The ChillyBuddy looks really interesting and I might try that! I admit a big part of my interest is that she will look like a little knight wearing chain mail.
posted by elizardbits at 8:29 AM on May 28, 2014

Response by poster: SORRY, I also should have mentioned that in her former (rural, huge backyard, large family pack of dogs) home she was rarely walked on a leash except for at dog shows, so while she understands that outside is for peeing and pooping, she is still having a little trouble making the leash = pooptime connection.
posted by elizardbits at 8:32 AM on May 28, 2014

Apparently that Chillybuddy does work quite well in the dark--lots of interesting info in the FAQ. I think I might get this myself. If you go back a step on that site you'll see that they also have a vest that takes gel packs, but to me this looks like a much better product.
posted by HotToddy at 10:11 AM on May 28, 2014

Well that link didn't work. Look at the tabs to the left for the FAQ.
posted by HotToddy at 10:11 AM on May 28, 2014

Response by poster: So it turns out that the best solution is actually very brief walks followed by banana popsicles.
posted by elizardbits at 9:49 AM on July 3, 2014 [4 favorites]

Does she have a flavor preference, or are those just what you have on hand?
posted by gingerest at 8:43 PM on July 3, 2014

Response by poster: no, i got it for myself accidentally while intending to get pineapple and when i tasted the horrible banana flavour i threw it on the floor like an angry toddler and that was when we discovered she likes banana popsicles
posted by elizardbits at 11:17 PM on July 3, 2014 [3 favorites]

posted by gingerest at 11:27 PM on July 3, 2014

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