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A Dog’s Guide to Summer

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happy welsh corgi on a leash at the beach

With the weather warming up, the sun staying out longer, and the hope of a vacation right around the corner, there are many reasons for you and your dog to love summer. Finding fun summer activities for dogs to join in on can include anything from a beach day, kayaking trip, or hiking. However, it’s important to know how to protect your pup from the summer sun and the relentless heat.

Summer Fun for Dogs

If your dog is a fan of spending their time outside and joining you for any adventure you go on, chances are, summer may be one of their favorite seasons as well. Whether this is your first summer with your dog or your tenth, there are many wonderful ways you and your four-legged best friend can fill your days.

Outdoor Activities for Dogs

A fantastic outing for a dog of any age is the beach. Beach days can be relaxing, and you can both sit in the sand and watch the world go by or use this as an opportunity to exercise and burn off extra energy. You can run or walk along the shore or swim in the water.

Beaches are additionally an excellent opportunity for socialization. Your dog will be given a chance to interact with new people and other dogs. They may spot some wildlife like birds or crabs, plus it will be a new environment filled with different sites, sounds, and smells. Plus, if your dog has never been swimming before, the water alone is an entirely new experience.

Before heading to the beach, double-check the beach’s rules about dogs. Some public beaches allow dogs, but they must remain leashed, while in some areas, dogs are only allowed at designated dog beaches. If you don’t live near the ocean, you may want to research some nearby lakes—many can still have nice beaches.

Another fun activity for your dog, which can also help keep them cool, is playing in the water. Of course, not everyone has access to a pool, especially one that’s okay with canines swimming about, so an easy alternative is to buy a little kiddie pool. Be sure to get the hard plastic type, as your dog’s nails could easily rip through soft plastic linings. Fill it up with the garden hose or even dump some ice in, and your pup will be entertained. You can also consider a sprinkler if you don’t quite have room for a pool. Some dogs love running through them and drinking water as they pass by.

If you are looking for ways to exercise your dog’s mind, you may want to give dog agility or another canine sport, such as dock jumping or disc throwing, a chance. Each activity provides a fantastic opportunity to spend more time outdoors, create a stronger bond with your dog, and practice obedience training. In the instance that your dog is a natural at these sports and you think they are progressing well, you can even look into signing them up for local competitions.

You may also want to keep an eye out for activities happening in your town. There may be dog meetups, special dog-friendly nights at wineries, the drive-in movies, or a local pool. Some baseball stadiums also have dog nights where your pup can join you to watch the game.

Indoor Activities for Dogs in Summer

Although the summer season is full of beautiful weather, not every day is conducive to being outside. Summer rain showers and storms can keep you inside for a few days, plus, sometimes the heat and humidity are just too high, particularly for your fuzzy friend.

Even when the weather isn’t behaving, that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun indoors—your dog will still need exercise. A terrific option for all dogs is to practice their obedience commands. You can start with a quick refresher on things they already know. Once they’ve nailed those, you can move on to more difficult ones or throw in some tricks just for fun. Remember to reward your pal whenever they get it right and be patient with them if they keep getting something wrong. Though you can work on commands and tricks throughout the day, try to keep each training session to a limited time. Like people, dogs’ attention span can only last so long.

There are many benefits to working your dog’s mind, so you may want to consider getting them a puzzle game or creating one of your own. You can try hiding treats in a pile of towels or blankets, which they then have to search through, or you can hide some treats around your home. If you find that your dog is particularly good at finding the food, try playing hide-and-seek with them.

With an energetic pup on your hands, you may still need more ways to tire them out—an obstacle course may do the trick. This involves some creativity, but designing and constructing the course can be part of the fun. Using objects lying around your house, you can make your pal go over, under, and around items. After completing the course a few times, you can have your dog try it from the opposite direction, switch out some elements, and even have your dog do a command or trick part way through the course.

Dog-Friendly Summer Vacations

Many people use summer as a time to travel and go on vacation. Instead of boarding your dog or finding a pet sitter, you can plan a trip that your dog can join. A camping trip could be a wonderful option if you enjoy being out in nature. Spending your days hiking trails or kayaking across lakes, eating food around the fire, and sleeping under the stars are activities some pups would adore. Of course, not all dogs are built to go hiking multiple miles every day or be outside in the warm weather with no air conditioning—you will have to decide if this is the right fit for your pal.

Understandably, many people prefer to spend their summer vacation at the beach. In which case, you can look into dog-friendly hotels or rental properties. When searching, most websites have a filter that allows you to look up dog-friendly options. However, it’s helpful to keep in mind driving distance depending on how well your dog does in the car, but if you have a smaller breed, you could consider flying.

For your time off, if you want more of the ‘city’ experience, with restaurants, bars, museums, and walking tours, you can still have dog-friendly options. Try researching some pet-friendly cities—you may be surprised what you find. Some cities tailor to their population that wants to bring their dogs with them everywhere, so finding stores, restaurants, and parks that all allow dogs may be easier than you think.

When you are in the process of planning your dog-included vacation, it’s essential that you consider your dog’s energy level, personality, and comfort with traveling in general. If your pup is a social butterfly, they may enjoy going to a busier location, possibly in the city. On the other hand, if your dog has endless energy that needs to be used every day, then a hiking trip may fit them better. You know your pup best and thus are perhaps the most qualified to be their personal travel agent.

cocker spaniel snacking on a strawberry

Dog-Friendly Treats for Summer

Who doesn’t love a cold popsicle or sweet ice cream on a hot summer day? Treating yourself to these delicious snacks is just a part of what makes summer so much fun. Unfortunately, our canine friends can’t enjoy these treats since they could upset their stomachs. Thankfully, there are many dog-friendly summer treats that are safe for pups to eat.

Summer is an ideal time to shop for fresh fruit, plus it’s a great item to keep in the house for a healthy snack. Fruits such as strawberries, apples, bananas, cantaloupe, kiwi, pineapple, and watermelon are all safe for your dog to eat. Just be sure to peel, cut, and remove any seeds or rinds when necessary. You should also only give them these fruits in moderation.

In the instance that your best pal has never tried these fruits before, it can be a fun trial and error to see which ones they enjoy and which ones get them to turn their nose the other way. Once you know their favorites, try incorporating them into some homemade treats. Xylitol-free peanut butter, plain yogurt, and pureed fruit can make great combos for a frozen snack.

You may also want to purchase a toy that’s made for putting treats inside. Many of these work wonderfully when you fill them with peanut butter and freeze them. Not only does this provide your dog with a cool treat, but it also keeps them entertained.

Before giving your dog any type of people’s food, it’s crucial that you double-check whether it is safe for them to eat. A lot of our food has high amounts of sodium and sugar, which are not safe for dogs to consume. Even some fruits and vegetables, like grapes and onions, are toxic to our canine friends and could cause severe problems.

Making dog treats at home can be a great way to save money and give your pet a healthier option with fewer ingredients. Though it may be tempting to give your best pal a whole handful of these cool snacks, remember that they can be a dog’s equivalent to dessert, so they should be served in moderation—though your dog will try to convince you otherwise.

Bugs are out in full force during the summer. Learn what to do if your dog gets bit or stung by an ant, spider, or bee.

Summer Safety Tips for Dogs

Summer is no doubt filled to the brim with fun, but to keep the fun times flowing, it’s important to understand how to keep your dog safe and healthy throughout the entire season.

Summer Water Safety for Dogs

When people talk about summer safety, one of the most critical warnings is always to drink enough water—the same is true for your dog. After being outside in the heat, especially if they were taking part in some rigorous exercise, your dog needs to have access to clean drinking water. If your pup prefers drinking cold water, you can try adding a few ice cubes to their water bowl every few hours.

Always giving your pup access to drinking water can keep them hydrated and discourage them from drinking from other water sources such as a pool or stagnant puddle, both of which are not healthy.

This summer, your dog may also go for a swim or play in water as well—whether in the ocean, a lake, or a river. Just as you would a child, always supervise your dog when they are near a body of water. While some dogs, like Labrador Retrievers, may be naturals in the water, other breeds like Basset Hounds simply cannot swim.

Depending on the water conditions, you never know when the current may become too strong or the water may be too deep for your pup. Plus, it’s critical that you be mindful of any aquatic wildlife that may be present.

Sun and Heat Protection for Dogs

Depending on where you live, your summer may range anywhere from warm with a bit of humidity to triple digits with heat advisories. Though some dogs may be more comfortable with the higher temperatures, all dogs can suffer from heatstroke. When your dog becomes overheated, they can begin experiencing symptoms such as excessive panting, difficulties breathing, lethargy, and excessive drooling. More extreme symptoms can include seizures, vomiting, collapse, and in some cases, your dog could pass away.

To help avoid heatstroke, limit your dog’s time outside when temperatures are too high, ensure they always have access to clean drinking water and a shaded area. If your dog has a flat face or scrunched nose, do not take them outside for walks during the hottest part of the day and keep them inside where it is cool. It is additionally crucial that you never leave a dog inside a hot car.

During the summer, you may need to be more mindful about the time of day you take your dog on a walk or even let them outside to play. Typically, early morning or later in the evening are the best times.

If your pup will be out in the sun, you may need to consider getting them sunscreen. Just like people, dogs are also at risk of getting sunburnt. Places with exposed skin such as their ears or nose and shaved patches can be more sensitive to the sun’s rays. Some breeds with very thin or light-colored hair with pink skin can also be more likely to feel the effects of the sun.

Though not directly exposed to the sun, paw pads can also be affected by the summer heat. If your dog walks on asphalt for too long, these high temperatures could burn their feet. If it can’t be avoided, you will want to look into buying your dog a pair of booties or some type of protectant for their feet. Otherwise, you can try to walk your dog only when the pavement has cooled off, or you can keep them in the grass.

Summer Must-Haves for Dogs

If you’re ready to start your summer off on the right paw, check out the list of summer must-haves for dogs. This includes items you should never leave the house without, ones to have just in case, and some fun ones to make you and your dog’s summer much more fun.

  • Collapsible water bowl
  • Your dog’s own water bottle
  • Fan to keep in your home
  •  An umbrella for extra shade in your yard
  • Flea and tick preventive
  • Sunscreen
  • A good set of brushes and combs (coats get messy in the summer)
  • Towels for drying your dog
  • Extra collar and leash you aren’t afraid to get messy
  • Pet-safe fruits to keep in the house
  • New toys for swimming, beach, or park
  • Doggy life vest
  • Puzzle toy for rainy days
  • Fun summer bandana to be stylish

Whether you and your pup spend your summer months swimming at the beach, hiking some trails, or relaxing at home where it’s cool, ensuring that your dog has a safe summer also means they can have a fun summer.

The information presented in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute or substitute for the advice of your veterinarian.


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