By: Valerie Vargas

Man’s best friend, whether big or small, is a companion who is up for anything.  Now that summer is in full effect, many people have a plethora of outdoor activities planned that include bringing their dog along. Dogs love the great outdoors just like the rest of us but did you know the summer heat is a lot harder on them they show?

As an East Sacramento resident and owner of a 100 pound Newfoundland named Zoey, there has been a big learning curve for me on what dogs can and can’t do during these hot summer months. Here are a couple of things I have learned:

Walks and runs should only happen when the pavement is cool enough for you to walk around on! Most people don’t realize the actual temperature of the sidewalk or street during runs and or walks with their dog. A dog’s pads, no matter what size the dog is, are just as sensitive as our own hands, and although your pup may not show signs of extreme discomfort, the scalding hot ground can burn their pads and be very painful for them. Instead try taking them out in the morning and or evening, when things have cooled down. Your pup will thank you for it and be able to keep by your side for all the fun.

Road trips are exciting experiences for most dogs, but cars heat up fast. The wind blowing in their face, smells rushing through their nose, and anticipation as to where you’re headed is pleasurable for a dog, but having them wait in the car for you, is very hard on them physically, again regardless of size. Many people think that if they run into the store really quick, Fido will be fine. What many people don’t realize is that even with a window down, the interior heat of a car can nearly double in about 20 minutes. Can you imagine sitting in your car, with a full body fur snuggie on, and only one window cracked? That’s enough to make any human break the window to escape. So please, be sure to plan accordingly and load your dog into your vehicle when all purchases and packing has been done. Your life long pal will be a lot happier by your side with the wind or a/c in his face.

Shade is of the essence. A problem more prevalent for owners of large breed dogs like me, is a wet coat in the hot heat. You may be inclined to hose your dog down to “cool” them off and then leave them outside. Sounds lovely right? Wrong! A dog’s internal temperature runs higher than humans, and a dog with a thick coat is more at risk for overheating when their coat is wet and heavy and in the direct sun. Instead of leaving them in the sun after hosing them down, make sure they have a heavily shaded and grassy area to relax at afterward. A good alternative to a full hose down, for any size dog, is keeping plenty of cold water available and wetting the inside of their ears.

An active lifestyle is what every dog needs, but when seasons change, so should the tactics you use to keep your dog happy. A few simple tricks to keep your dog cool and comfortable will make for a supremely adventurous summer for the both of you. Plus, its summer time and the livin’ should be easy!