Chilling Out

As warmer weather has finally arrived in Nova Scotia (Sun! For more than eight hours in a row!) I’ve started to worry about keeping my dog cool during the heat of the day. Last summer she had a nasty bout of heat stroke and I’d really like to avoid putting her (and my rug) through that again. Since dogs have a naturally high internal temperature and over-heat very quickly, I try to do everything I can to keep Shiva comfortable.

Her crate is in one of the cooler spots in the house and I make sure to keep the windows open to allow for a breeze, while closing the blinds to counter the heat of the sun. She always has fresh water and I’ve been popping a crunchy ice-cube in her Kong in the middle of the frozen peanut butter.

I know there are a number of products on the market to make life a little easier for furry puppies during the summer months. One that automatically peaked my interest was the Canine Cooler, which is like a Chillow for dogs.

According to the website, you just fill this dog bed with tap water, smooth out the air, and the bed will maintain room temperature, providing a cooling effect for dogs. There are some pretty funky thermal images on the site that show how this simple idea really does help prevent a dog from over-heating. It would be perfect for inside her crate when we are not at home. 

Unfortunately, the price is a bit of a drawback. Not that my dog’s well-being isn’t priceless but I am reluctant to spend this kind of money not knowing if it will actually help.

On another site, I found this weird-looking cooling bandanna. The price is much more palatable but even the dog in the promotional photo looks uncomfortable.

 There is also a vest made with the same technology used by soldiers in Iraq (so says the website anyway). But I am not sure Shiva would keep this on. I have a feeling as soon as that door is closed behind us, she’d be ripping it off.

North Coast Pets has some other options. I kind of liked the idea behind the cooling crate fan. Shiva isn’t bothered by noises and since it runs off batteries I wouldn’t have to worry about wires or potential electrical disasters.

Have you tried any of these products? Can you recommend anything else? 

 On weekends I am not as worried as we can always walk down to one of the many lakes and force her encourage her to stick her feet in the water. A friend of mine with a gorgeous Bernese Mountain dog purchased a kiddie wading pool for her dog to lie in when it’s ridiculously hot outside (not that I am complaining about the heat). I don’t see Shiva joining her anytime soon.

I’d love to hear any suggestions you have, especially from those who live in the south where it is hot for most of the year. How do your dogs stay cool?

ETA: For some reason, none of my photos are showing up in this post, so I apologize for its lack of visuals. I assure you I had some great ones! Self-hosting snag number 4859679.

ETA2: Ahahahaha! I am an idiot and don’t know how to upload plug-ins properly. Ahem. Carry on.

51 thoughts on “Chilling Out

  1. I have this worry with Song. Greys having so little body fat cannot insulate themselves much at all. They can get Hypothermia in a very short time and the same goes for Heatstroke.

    I bought the cooling neck thingys for Song and one for me. They were both actually for humans, but Song doesn’t mind hers.

    I was thinking of getting one of the reflective coats that are supposed to stay cool. As the neck cool thingy was cheaper thought I’d try that first.

    The paddling pool is a fab idea, but best to put an old bit of carpet in the bottom so the dog can’t slip and hurt themselves and also to protect the bottom from puncture.

    Think all dog owners should be aware of Heatstroke and how to treat it.

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    • I agree. Heatstroke can happen so quickly and dogs cannot communicate their distress like people can. Last year I had no idea Shiva was so sick, I even took her out for a walk. Other than a little sluggishness, she kept accepting treats so I assumed everything was fine. So not fine. But we got through it and hopefully can prevent such a thing from happening this year.

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  2. I’m useless in that I have no real advice to offer, but I’ll be interested to read if anyone recommends those products (or others). Our dogs usually stay pretty cool, but when it’s hot out I can tell that Melanie feels it more than the others since she’s black. I think something like a bandanna would be a neat idea for her.

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  3. Just a note, your photos showed up fine in the feed I got on my Google reader. Not sure what that’s about.

    I also add ice cubes to the water bowl on hot days. It’s amazing how hot the water can get in a short time.

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  4. I just got one of these for Oreo, and it is pretty amazing. Couldn’t believe how cool it was to the touch after a day in the heat.

    http://www.cleanrun.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=product.display&Product_ID=1989&ParentCat=392

    I have these chilly buddy jackets for my long haired dogs:
    http://www.cleanrun.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=product.display&Product_ID=1380&ParentCat=152

    But everyone I trial with swears by there cooling coats:
    http://www.cleanrun.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=product.display&Product_ID=918&ParentCat=152

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    • Thanks for sharing the links! That mat sounds interesting and the price is totally reasonable. Maybe I will order one for Shiva.

      I’m not so much worried about her when we are home. On walks we’re pretty careful about finding cool spots and there are so many lakes for her to dip her toes into. But if we start attending more outdoor trials, it might be something we should look at for sure.

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  5. We use crate fans all of the time. They work very well to circulate the air and clip right on to the crate. You will have to probably change the batteries if you run them a lot, but they are worth it. You can clip more than one to the crate if you get the small ones and need more breeze. (We usually clip at least two to each crate.) We mostly use them when we are at hunt tests or dog shows and have the dogs outside in their crates.

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    • Cool, good to know it actually makes a difference! The price is fairly low so I figured it might be worth a shot. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

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  6. I second the crate fan idea, and better yet 2 just to keep air moving so if and when she is panting it will have an even greater effect. I don’t have to worry much about my dogs inside, as we have the AC on, or something close to it so they are fine in their crates. Outside it is def. a concern.

    Keys to remember, when watering them outside, make them take breaks from the water so they don’t suck down too much at once and limits the chances of bloat. Frozen ice cubes or blocks are a great way to slowly give them water in crates etc.

    If they are outside, and we have nowhere to let them enter water, I will often use some of their drinking water to wet their ears, armpits, and bellies as this cools them the best due to lack of fur and amount of blood vessels close to the skin.

    I have heard of some show/rally people using the cooling dog coats, so that might be an option for while she is with you, but I agree I would not leave it on her in the crate if she has any “ripping off” tendencies. And the bandana might not do much for her since she seems to have so much fur around the neck, it won’t make much skin contact.

    I also have heard of some of the cooling beds, it may be worth it and as a whole I have heard pretty good things. But again it’s not something you would want her to chew up in her crate.

    So I say your best bet are some fans and ice cubes/chunks. And while outside make sure they have plenty of little water breaks, and wet their ears and armpits while you’re at it.
    Anna
    http://www.akginspiration.com
    PS… does Shiva have any canine buddies that really love the water? That may be a way to further tempt her in and get her over the hurdle of swimming. It’s part of the method I used for Luna, they just can’t stand to be left out usually.

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    • We do have a ceiling fan but no AC. Nova Scotia only has about four weeks of super warm weather, if that, so it’s not really worth the enormous investment. The ceiling fan doesn’t seem powerful enough, though it is over the top of her crate. It’s better than nothing, anyway.

      I’m not overly concerned about her when she is outside as we are always with her outdoors and can monitor her activity. If she seems over-heated we can get to shade and water pretty fast. It’s more when she is home by herself that worries me. ice cubs and fans seem to be the general consensus. Good to know. 🙂

      Shiva has dog friends but none that she sees on a regular basis. She normally just hangs out with whoever happens to be at the park. Other dogs have encouraged her to run into the water, but she will never go deep enough to swim, not even with a fun dog buddy.

      Thanks for weighing in. I really appreciate your knowledge.

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  7. The dogs aren’t crated when we aren’t home so they have free rein to find a comfy/cool spot. There are three ceiling fans on in the house and if it is predicted to be very hot/humid, the air conditioner is turned on.

    As for outside, I bring the water bottle when we walk and they do have the kiddie wading pool outside. Thanks to Sue for the carpeting suggestion, I had never thought of that.

    The wading pool might be a good way for Shiva to get comfortable with the water. If you just put a small amount in there and leave her to it, she may just surprise you.

    On another note, sometimes the dogs drink from the pool too. 🙂

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    • Now I am feeling guilty for not forking out the major cash for AC. 😛

      LOL. I could see Shiva being much more likely to drink from the pool than lay in it. Though, this is progress. When we first adopted her she would never even drink water unless it was from her bowl at home. Outside and in different environments she was too over-stimulated and freaked out to focus on her thirst. Not good. I’m so glad she’s gotten over that, though she still doesn’t drink as much as I think she should. But it’s not something that can be forced.
      /ramble. 😛

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  8. I only walk Our Best Friend in early morning or evening on hot hot days. He’s an idiot; if you throw a ball for him, he’ll chase it until he drops dead, so I have to monitor his exercise.

    I’m not a vet, but I think as long as you provide lots of water, no direct sun, and a cooling breeze (maybe buy a fan and point it at the crate!) she’ll be okay during the “dog days” of summer. 🙂

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    • Shiva is the same. She is always ready to go, even if it is too hot to open the door. It’s why I didn’t know she was sick last year until she was very sick. Doofus dogs, eh?

      Thanks! I hope you are right.

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  9. I haven’t tried anything in particular for keeping Gwynn cool. I keep fresh water in his crate, and in bowls inside and outside the house, but otherwise, I just try to make sure that he has a chance to relax somewhere cool a few times each walk. If Shiva accepts wearing a doggy backpack, one solution for on-walks would be to put a frozen water bottle in each pannier – Plus, as the water melts, you and she could drink it.

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    • We haven’t tried a backpack with her yet, though I have thought about it, especially when hiking. It’d be easier if she could carry some of her own stuff! I think she’d wear one fine. As long as her legs and head are uncovered, she normally doesn’t care what else is on her.

      Thanks for the idea!

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    • Right now I am very jealous. The PH has been bugging me about getting it but since it is only warm about two days a year I don’t think it’s worth the cost. In LA and Las Vegas, however, I would imagine it is a necessity. Just like a furnace is up here.

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  10. At home we usually leave a overhead fan running and that helps. At tournaments, I use the crate fan. It hooks to her crate, makes no noise. And for a small fan it does a good job keeping her crate cool. I love that it is quiet since noisy things tend to startle sophie. It has a few settings, I think high and low. I usually have it set to high during outdoor tournaments.

    We also have a cool coat that I wet down and walk Sophie around in. But I wouldn’t trust her with it alone in a crate. She would probably eat it.

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    • Good to know. I am going to see if any local stores sell crate fans. If not I will order one online. It seems to make a difference for a lot of dogs.

      Heh, Sophie and Shiva have something else in common then!

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  11. After the flood, I lost my AC so I flow it from the upstairs window unit during the day. I don’t use crate mats when it is hot – the dogs are not in crates except for short periods or by choice and it seems cooler; they sleep flat out on the wood or vinyl floor otherwise. I like the idea of the cooling mats; I will check with my local pet products store about getting them in. My Sheltie will rest in front of a fan, her fur cascading out like a shampoo commercial – but then, she IS a Princess :).

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    • I wonder if any of the local pet shops here sell anything like that. Maybe I should call around before ordering anything online.

      Shelties are all perfect princesses, including the boys. They seem to know exactly how to pose to get the most admiration. That’s too cute.

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  12. I have the Cool Breeze hammock/bed for Kelly which I also take off the legs and can lay on the floor. It might be less expensive than the Chillow, I don’t know. We don’t have a/c so we rely on fans. I have one of those tower fans on the floor so Kelly can lay as close to it as she wants. I bought a kiddie pool, but she doesn’t like it. Funny, because she loves the lake when we travel to one.

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    • Picky Kelly. 🙂

      The Cool Breeze hammock sounds interesting. I could use something like that right now for myself! I may have to make do with a fan.

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  13. We have the cooling bandanas and I can’t say that they really make much of a difference and it gets this weird gel-y film over the fabric which grosses me right out. We (being quite cheap and not willing to buy an $80 bed!) bought one of those heavy duty fabric kid’s size air mattresses from the discount store and we fill that half full with water from the hose. Since it was the kid size one, it’s just small enough to lay across the inside of our chest freezer for an hour or two before we leave the house to chill it. I would *love* to hear someone who has it’s opinion on if the real deal is worth the money, ’cause it can be a pain to haul the mattress in and out of the freezer!

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    • No doubt, but I love your creativity in coming up with your own cool bed. Our freezer isn’t near big enough or I’d be tempted to try it myself.

      $80 is a bit much for me as well. The one Sara linked to on the Clean Run site is around $30 which is much easier to handle. Maybe I’ll give it a try and report back!

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  14. Sadly, we are so hot here during summer their isn’t anything that can help in the heat of the day. We limit all our activities to within a couple hours of sunrise/sunset. Our humidity is so high things like swamp cooling vest can’t actually work properly (just like sweating doesn’t work well for cooling the humans).

    When Daisy and I went to the beach I just drug her into the water and soaked her down. I also fed her a frozen kong.

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    • I try to do the same. Shiva normally gets her morning walk around 6 am so it’s never super hot at that time anyway. Sometimes I push her evening walk back to 7 or 8 if it still feels too warm at 6 pm.

      The humidity here is very high as well. It’s what makes the heat unbearable at times. I didn’t even think that may prevent some of these products from working properly.

      When all else fails, freeze a Kong. I like it. 🙂

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  15. We lived in South Carolina for three years and Cali was so horribly hot that she couldn’t sleep at night (she was born and raised in nice, cool Oregon!) We bought her a cool bed and it was a life saver! She stayed in the house in the air conditioning in the heat of the day, and we only took her out for short walks in the evening.

    I actually bought her a Cool Bed III last year (we were dragging the other bed in and out of our bedroom & it’s heavy!) and I like it better than the Canine Cooler. It’s more durable and easier to fill and they have them on Amazon for $53.00!!

    We still use it now that we are back in Oregon. She lays on it when she gets hot and sleeps on it every night!

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    • $53.00 is still a little steep but so much better than the $110 I was looking at. It seems like a steal in comparison. It’s good to know it might actually help, thanks!

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  16. I try to keep the pups walks short and frequent (usually we go for 2, 1 hr walks per day, but I try to get in several 30 min ones instead). Also we spend more time at the lake- if we can catch Mickey we get him in the water to cool him off & we get Kayloo in there too. Plus the lake is nice and shady so they can get a proper walk in without dying of heat exhaustion!

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    • Right on. We are lucky to have many lakes within walking distance. We’re never far from a water source no matter where we go. 🙂

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  17. Thanks for sharing! Some good stuff here. Because of how hot it gets here in SoCal (like, oh, 85 degrees by 11 am today) stuff like this is a necessity. I have a doggie door not only to let Dante go potty during the day but also to give him a cool place to curl up while I’m gone. My parents don’t have a place to put a doggie door so they keep the dogs inside on especially hot days (or rainy ones too). I’ll also drop ice cubes in his water bowl. But lucky for me Iggies love to be as warm as possible! 🙂

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    • Shiva’s crate is in the coolest spot in the house, surrounded by windows and outside walls. If I keep the blinds closed and the windows open, there is usually a decent breeze, but the humidity sometimes makes that breeze worse. We do what we can and hope it is enough. Shiva is a pretty good all-weather dog but her fur is thick enough to cause her issues. I don’t know what I’d do with a Saint Bernard in this weather!

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  18. We actually have that cooling bandana, but we ended up not using it that much because it’s so bulky. We do take regular bandanas which we can soak in water. It’s getting hot here in Chicago, so we need to be prepared.

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    • That’s a good idea, simple. If we attend any outdoor events downtown, I will have to remember to try that.

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  19. I’ve wished that we could try one of those cooling beds, too. I know there are several different kinds on the market, but they all seem pretty pricey.

    Honestly, Lilac is a lot more susceptible to the heat than our others, whether it’s due to her age, the fact that she’s mostly black, or she’s just wired that way. The best thing we’ve found is a cheap box fan from the Dollar Store or someplace like that that we put near the air conditioning output vent, and we put her bed in front of it. If you don’t have air on in the house, putting it near an open window would have a similar affect. Lilac loves the thing, and I’ve noticed this year that Blueberry is very fond of it, too!

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    • More and more I am thinking a fan is the right way to go. Dogs seem to enjoy them as much as we do. Good to know they can be found at a simple dollar store. Thanks for sharing your experiences!

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  20. Oh yikes! I don’t know if I could do the waterfilled-pad every day… Kinda tedious, don’t you think?

    I ran across this two days ago, as I get their product e-newsletter. You might be interested in it. 🙂

    http://www.cleanrun.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=product.display&Product_ID=2859&ParentPage=whatsnew

    CleanRun has amazing** stuff, for diy agility, too! Also, pretty affordable, I think. The thing is, the pad only lasts “cooling” for 3-4 hours, but it recharges when (insert dog here) gets up. I don’t know how long you leave Shiva in her crate every day, so not sure if this is ideal or not. But I thought I’d share anyway!

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  21. Oh – I didn’t realise you live in Nova Scotia! I thought you were in the US (sorry – I think I put the wrong country for your DWTDS entry! 🙂

    Yeah – keeping dogs cool – we know ALL about that!! Honey is like a different dog in hot weather – it’s really sad to see. The heat affects giant breeds even worse because of the whole “Surface-Area-To-Volume-Ratio” thing – and she REALLY struggles. We were very lucky back in NZ coz it’s fairly temperate there all year around and never gets too hot in summer – sunny but still cool air temps. But here in Australia, summers – and a lot of springs & autumns – are a killer.

    We end up almost walking Honey mostly after dark – but even then, in mid-summer, it can still be very hot and humid. We did try one of those cooling bandanas but it was a bit useless on such a big dog – even using the XL size, it only cooled a very small portion of her neck and hardly made any difference. I then bought her a “cool coat” – made of the same fabric as those cool mats – it works pretty well but is a bit of pain as you have to remember to soak it before you go out – and with Honey, you need a MASSIVE coat – practially horse size – and can’t just wet it in the sink…also, it hampers her movements a bit, so not very practical.

    In the end, we found one of the easiest & cheapest things to do was just wet her down before startign the walk! This way as the water evaporates from her coat, it cools her – and by the end of the walk, she is practically dry. It might not work so well for a dog with a long/thick double coat but for Honey, with her short, single coat, it’s really easy to soak her down with a garden hose or even just a scoop mug or sponge. This way you can also carry a water bottle and “top her up” during the walk if it looks like she is drying out too fast and getting hot again.

    Hope this helps –
    Hsin-Yi

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  22. We have really extreme warm days here all year round. Our dogs are indoors and don’t really go out until late evening when its cooler. But sometimes they need the occational roll on the grass even though its hot. We wipe them down and they are ok.

    I could use all of them cooling thingys. We have the AC for the nights.

    I think a fan will work for Shiva.

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  23. i was just reading hsin-yi’s advice. the summers here are H-O-T alright!

    i don’t do anything special with G since she loves heat. Rufus, despite being a mal, was surprisingly tolerant of heat too. the one thing i did learn [the hard way] was NEVER to walk the dogs in the heat of the day [which here, in summer, might mean anytime between 7am to 7pm on really bad days].

    we romp as much as possible by the water [hence all the summer beach pics in the blog]. at home, we turn on the aircon [always much appreciated by the dogs] and close the blinds. if the dog enjoys getting wet [like Jordan did], a little wading pool and some sprinkler action was also much loved [in the days before water restrictions]. on walks, i also carry water in a poop bag so the dogs can have a drink whenever they need one. works a treat 🙂

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  24. Just a warning about your dog being wet in hot weather. Some dogs can hold a layer of water just above their skin, but under their coat. This can actually heat up and cause problems. Just because your dog is wet, doesn’t mean it is cool.

    Sounds like you all have some fab ideas and are all aware of the potential problems.

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