It’s summertime … and the livin is easy …”
Just kidding. When you live in Phoenix, there’s nothing easy about the summer. And with temperatures already lingering in the 100s, the easiest thing you can think of — walking your dog — is a chore. Between getting the kids ready for summer camp, making lunches and getting myself ready for work, finding time to walk the dog before it gets hot (6 a.m.) and once it cools down (well after 8 p.m.) can be tough.
I spoke with Dr. Benjamin Savard, a veterinarian at Raintree Pet Resort in Scottsdale for some tips on keeping our furry, four-legged friends well exercised without overheating during our rough summers. Obviously, you’ll want to avoid walking your dog outside during peak hours, but here are a few more tips.
- Go for a swim instead of a walk. This one is pretty self-explanatory. And wouldn’t you rather be lounging in the pool than walking around under the cloudless sky?
- Wet your dog down before, during and after walks. Those of us who don’t have a pool can do the next best thing. This won’t do much for keeping you cool (sorry!), but it works wonders for your dogs. Dr. Benjamin explains that dogs don’t sweat like we do, so wetting them down can keep them from overheating.
- Walk instead of run. If you’re training for a marathon, you may want to do your training alone or at the gym. Dr. Benjamin also suggests taking shorter walks.
- Play indoors. If you have the space inside, why not grab your pet’s favorite toy and play inside the house? I try to tucker my girl out with a game of fetch with a toy duck and finish it off with a treat-stuffed Kong toy or puzzle.
- Let them play during the day. Not gonna lie – knowing I can take my dog to doggy day care during the day makes it a LOT easier to hit the snooze button in the mornings. There are tons of places in the Valley, but my personal faves are Raintree Pet Resort in Scottsdale and Camp Bow Wow and Pete and Mac’s, both with multiple locations (though I can only vouch for the ones in Avondale.) My dog snoozes the entire way home on her play days and I know she’s had a good time. And some don’t even require advance notice — you can use them on a drop-in basis.
Dr. Benjamin recommends getting a couple of accessories if you absolutely must exercise your dog in the heat: a portable water bowl and booties. The rocks and concrete can easily burn a dog’s paws in this heat. He also recommends using sunscreen on white dogs and dogs with pink noses (yes, really. I asked. Twice. Be sure to put it on the dog’s nose). They make sunscreens specially for pets that you should be able to pick up at any pet store.
While it seems just as simple to chuck it all and forget about exercising your dog altogether, remember, dogs are more likely to act out or exhibit destructive behaviors when they aren’t adequately engaged. I’ve already lost two family dinners this week — now point me to the doggy booties. I’ll need a “medium.”