The intense tropical heat, which peaks during the summer months on a rock (though those months vary, depending on which hemisphere you are in) can be dangerous for our furry companions. Dogs can succumb to heatstroke faster than you’d think so it’s important we humans take preventative measures to protect them.
In the summertime, my dog Diego aka Island Dog Diego sneaks into the refrigerator for a quick cool down every time I open the door. How can I blame him? I want to live in there too. While certain types of dogs are more tolerant of the heat than others, Chihuahuas like Diego aren’t great at regulating their body temperature, so I’m always vigilant to ensure he doesn’t overheat.
After three years with my island pupper, I’ve discovered a variety of creative ways to keep him cool, calm, and collected in the tropical heat. I thought I’d take some time to share them with you here because all types of dogs, including island-born Coconut Retrievers and Potcakes, are susceptible to heatstroke and other hot weather ailments. Here’s to a safe and happy summer with our lovable island dogs!
Note: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, which means that if you click on them and choose to buy something, it won’t cost you anything, but I’ll get an itsy bitsy commission as a thank you for sharing something cool with you.
1) Ice, Ice, Baby
Providing a frozen pack to lay against can help dogs cool off in a hurry. For small dogs, the ice packs used for lunch boxes and coolers work well. For larger dogs, try filling up empty liter soda bottles with water and freezing them.
If the ice feels too intense to lay against directly, wrapping it in a thin sock or pillow case can add to your dog’s comfort in pressing his/her body up against it. I always place an ice pack inside a sock (the pink thing Diego is laying against in the photos above and below) in my purse and/or in his carrier whenever we’re out and about in the heat.
2) Made in the Shade
If you’re headed to the pool or beach and plan on hanging out in the sun, bringing along a tent for your dog to retreat into will help keep him/her from overheating. For smaller dogs, Diego loves this easy to fold up tent. It fits in my beach bag for days out and the rest of the time, it makes a cozy nook for him to sleep in at home. For larger dogs, an open-style pop-up beach tent will work not just for them, but for any humans looking for shade too.
3) Easy Breezy
Clip-on stroller fans were made to keep babies cool, but I’ve found they are an excellent accessory for island dogs too. I like to bring mine with me to the beach, pool, or out on the boat for times when the air gets hot and still and Diego can’t stop panting. The batteries last a long time and a few minutes of cool breeze in the face seem to take the edge off a dog’s overheated state. They also work well to clip onto the tents (mentioned above) and up their coolness factor in the shade.
4) Paw Protection
Did you know that you can burn the pads of your dog’s feet by walking him/her when the ground is too hot? How do you know if the ground is too hot? A good rule of thumb is to place your own palm flat on the ground and slowly count to three (one-one thousand, two-one thousand, three-one thousand…). If it feels too hot to hold your hand there, it’s too hot for your dog to be walking there. And yes – this also applies to beach sand, which can get scorching under the midday tropical sun!
For large dogs who you can’t pick up when you’re out and about, dog shoes are really helpful. They do take a little bit of training to get your doggo used to wearing them, but they protect the pads of their feet whenever you need to take them outside in the heat of the day.
For small to medium-sized dogs, a sporty carrier can be a great solution for keeping them off the hot asphalt. I like to use dog slings/carriers/backpacks not only when the ground is too hot for Diego to be walking on, but also for longer hikes that are too strenuous for his little legs to handle. They make this backpack, the K9 Sport Sack, in a variety of sizes – you can even carry dogs up to 30 pounds (if you’re feeling strong enough!). Our personal favorite is this dog sling – it’s cozy for Diego to lay in and I’m able to pop an ice pack (mentioned above) inside to keep him nice and cool as we hike.
5) We All Bark for Pupsicles
You can cool your doggo off from the inside out with frozen treats!
Regular ice cream and popsicles made for humans aren’t good for your dog to consume and can upset his/her stomach due to the dairy and excess sugar. But there are many easy recipes for pupsicles online that you can experiment with and see which ones delight your dog most.
Diego also loves this popsicle dog toy that’s super simple to use (pictured above) – you just fill it with water and keep in your freezer for hot days to come.
6) Thirsty Hounds
Just like us humans, dogs get extra thirsty in the heat. When it’s hot outside, be sure to give your dog plenty of water. I always keep one of these collapsible dog bowls in my bag so no matter where I am, I can share whatever water I have with Diego in a vessel he can easily drink from.
7) Vested Interest
This cooling dog vest is my new favorite invention. It has been a game changer for us. I love that you can keep it in your bag, dry, and then wet it whenever you need to use it. It basically works like a chamois aka “shammy” in that it soaks up the water and remains cool to the touch. Wrapping this vest around your dog cools him/her down to their core almost instantly. It doesn’t get your dog wet and you can simply take it off and re-wet it whenever it starts to dry out. I’ve shared this vest with a couple of other dog friends and everyone is blown away by how well it works and how much their dogs seem to appreciate it.
8) Chill Out
I don’t quite understand how this chilly pad works so well, but Diego seems to love it. You don’t have to freeze it or even wet it – it’s just a cool spot for your dog to lay on. It doesn’t feel that cool to the touch to me, but something about the pressure from his body when he’s laying on it makes it so. Diego will choose to lay on it anytime he’s hot over anywhere else, including the cool tile floor, so it must work.
9) Float On
Many island dogs don’t enjoy swimming. It’s basically sacrilege, but it’s true. Diego is one of them. He knows how to swim for safety, but doesn’t enjoy being in the water. He does, however, appreciate a good floatie. For non-swimming dogs, floating on a raft can keep them cool in the water without them having to actually hang out IN the water. This dog raft is Diego’s favorite because it feels solid to walk around on. But for larger dogs who may want to sink in a bit, hammock-style, this larger dog raft is pretty pawsome.
Bonus Necessities for the Dogs of Summer
I thought I’d provide links for you to a couple more items that I find indispensable for the island doggie life. They may not help keep your dog cool in the heat, but they do offer protection from the tropical elements.
Slather your Snout
Did you know that light colored dogs can get sunburns too? Areas like their noses, ears, and bellies can be particularly vulnerable under the island sun – dogs need sunscreen just like we do!
Do keep in mind though – many of the ingredients in human sunscreen such as zinc oxide and para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA) are toxic for dogs and should not be applied to your pup. Be sure to use sunscreen made specifically for dogs to avoid your dog getting sick after he/she inevitably licks a bit of it off.
Many dogs don’t like having the sun blasting into their eyeballs in the same way that we humans don’t. And blue-eyed dogs like Diego have extra sensitive eyes that need extra protection. Doggles are sunglasses for dogs and they work well so long as your dog will tolerate wearing them.
If you’re heading out on a boat or to partake in other water-sports such as kayaking or paddle-boarding with your pup, consider getting him/her a doggie life jacket of his/her own for safety’s sake. If you’re feeling extra sassy, these shark/mermaid styles are pretty hilarious and will no doubt be a big hit on the beach.
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Do you have any tips or tricks to share that help you keep your pets cool in the tropical heat?
P.S. If your island pet is on Instagram too, follow us over @islanddogdiego – we’d love to connect with you!