I consider myself a cool dog: hip, with-it, favoring a bit of a rebellious streak, channeling my inner James Dean. There are days when obeying the word “come” just doesn’t work for me.
Unfortunately, being a cool hipster dog does not mean that I don’t get hot in the summer. Being a double-coated dog is like wearing a sheepskin-lined, black leather motorcycle jacket in 90-degree weather. I love my sheepskin-lined, black leather motorcycle jacket, but when it’s hot out I can’t just take it off and wear a white t-shirt, lounge in the shade and drink beer. What to do?
Cooling foods for dogs
In the summer, my human feeds me cooling foods on really hot, humid days. For protein, she rotates bison, eggs, rabbit, turkey, and chicken (white meat). I also get some cottage cheese or lassi or goat’s milk.
She also rotates through an impressive menu of vegetables: chopped carrots, chopped kale, cooked peas, pumpkin meal, summer squash, butternut squash, broccoli, celery, and cooked sweet potatoes.
If you want to feed some cooling whole grains to your dog, some common choices include oats, quinoa, and spelt.
Then there are the cooling fruits: apples, mangoes, strawberries, blueberries, papaya, and watermelon.
The cooling oils to consider are coconut, flax, hempseed, and camelina, while cooling omega-3 foods include flax seeds and chia seeds. (Note that omega-3 fatty acids from saltwater fish like salmon is warming, not cooling.)
Sometimes I get sprouts added to my food. The cooling sprouts are alfalfa and broccoli.
I really love Buckaroo’s Cooling Stew, because it’s delicious and has cooling foods like eggs, chia seeds, organic alfalfa meal, peas, butternut squash, organic coconut, broccoli, organic kale, mangoes, apples, mint, and celery.
My human does make us coconut/peanut butter frozen treats that she makes and then freezes in ice cube trays. Now, peanut butter is warming, but her rationale is that the cooling coconut oil balances the warming aspects of peanut butter.
But recently she has started experimenting, thanks to a discussion she participated in on Healthy Critters Radio, and decided to try mixing blueberries with coconut oil and freezing that. If it were a movie release, Coconut Oil Blueberry Treats would have been considered a smashing success. I loved it. The pack loved it. So then she tried mango, sliced into small pieces and added to the coconut oil. It was delicious too.
My only concern now, is that I hope she doesn’t add some icky vegetable.
Recipe for Coconut Oil Blueberry Treats:
- 1 cup of virgin coconut oil
- ½ cup organic blueberries or mango
Mix together and pour into food-grade silicon paw-print ice cube molds. Freeze and then serve.
Baths and cleanliness
Humans are obsessed with bathing — their horses, their dogs, themselves — especially in summertime. I don’t mind a nice bath now and then… as in once or twice a year. There are reasons I head to a mud hole near the pond and wallow in it; it cools me down and gets those nice, beneficial soil organisms on my skin. So what if I look like the Creature from the Black Lagoon? It will dry, the mud will fall off and I’ll be healthier and cooler because of it. As I try to point out to my human: she wouldn’t be lucky enough to have that super-duper vacuum cleaner if it weren’t for me and my fellow pack members.
Fans and the overweight dog
I’m pretty buff, but Buckaroo is a tank of a dog, built like an NFL linebacker and perpetually on a diet. He is no couch potato when he’s motivated: deer chasing, chicken herding, squirrel roundup — he’s all in. But on hot humid days, after he’s been running, his panting can be loud enough to wake the dead. Lying in an air- conditioned house isn’t cooling enough. He gets his own fan.
Dogs that are overweight may need help cooling down, and floor fans are perfect ways to help bring their body temperature and respiration back to normal. My human uses Vornado fans because they aren’t as noisy as box fans and move air more efficiently. Buckaroo recovers so much faster when he plants himself in front of his personal fan.
Of course, then Thunderbear wanted his own personal fan, and Crockett wanted his, so we have various Vornado fans around the house for the spoiled dogs. Wookie and I, we’re perfectly content lying on the air conditioning vents in the floor.
When dogs get overheated
Dogs have higher body temperatures than humans, and aren’t as efficient at cooling as humans. Heatstroke in canines sets in when the dog’s body temperature hits 109 degrees.
You can cool your dog down by soaking his body in cool — not cold — water. Concentrate the cooling water on head, neck, and the areas underneath the front and back legs. Don’t run hose water into the throat because it could get into the lungs.
One of the most common causes of overheating in dogs is being left in a car.
There are breeds that are predisposed to overheating in warm weather: Pug, Pekinese, Bulldog, Shih Tzu, Boston Terrier, French Bulldog, Boxer, and Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.
Many different dog breeds like water, so having a kiddie pool in your backyard can become a very helpful cooling method for your dog. If you live on a farm, horse water troughs are extremely convenient if you don’t have a pond or a creek. I often refresh myself in water- filled horse troughs, much to my human’s consternation.
And remember: to be cool you need to feel cool, and eat cool.