Summer is synonymous with sunshine, the beach, and being outside. Although I'm more of an autumn girl, there is something special about long, warm days that make me want to pack a bag, throw the dogs in the Jeep, and find some adventure.
I still don't know why, but when Mara was younger she would overheat EXTREMELY quickly. Even taunting her with a walk and treats wasn't enough to make her want to go outside during the warmer months. I invested in a cooling vest and a backpack to carry copious amounts of water, but still ended up carrying her not 10 minutes into our walks. She has since grown out of this issue/habit.. whatever it was, thank GAWD, but I learned a lot of valuable lessons during those first two summers with a pup.
1. Pick trails that offer shady resting stops.
There is no relief like finding a shady tree and escaping the beating sun after walking for an extended period of time. There are several great trails in Orange County; however, most of them offer absolutely zero shade. Jeffrey Open Space Trail and Hick's Canyon are two of my personal favorites; however, you absolutely HAVE to go early or you will melt.
2. Bring a water bottle (or two or three)
I ALWAYS bring tons of water on our walks. Not only is hydration super important, but water can serve many different purposes; splashing on your pup to cool them down, pouring on a cooling vest, and cooling hot paws. While there are many dog water bottles on the market, I am not a huge fan. They leak, re-absorb slobbery water (or not), and are typically an odd shape. I prefer a normal wide mouth water bottle with ice and a collapsible dog bowl.
3. DO not shave your pup!
Although it might seem counterintuitive to keep some hair on your pup during the hottest months, their hair actually acts as a sort of sunscreen and protects their precious skin from getting burned. In the event you have already committed the cardinal sin of shaving in summer, Chewy and various other outlets offer sprayable sunscreens like this one: Emmy's Best Dog Sun Skin Protector Spray or Bodhi Dog Moisturizing Sun Spray.
4. be sure the ground isn't too hot to walk!
I'm sure you've read this a million different places, but rule of thumb is if you can hold the back of your hand comfortably on the pavement, asphalt, etc. it is safe for your pup's paws. While it may not seem that hot outside, the direct sunlight can heat the ground to 50+ degrees hotter than the air. If there is no escaping the hot ground, there are dog shoes like these (Ruffwear Grip Trex Dog Shoes) that work well. We have the red ones!
Be sure to measure your pups foot correctly to prevent blistering/rubbing and shoe loss... yes, they will literally fly off if your pup runs and they are not the right size. The Ruffwear website has a guide to selecting the right shoes for your adventures. You can find that here: Choosing the Right Dog Shoes.
5. If you have a small dog, be aware of the radiant heat from the ground.
Just as you should be cognizant of how direct sunlight heats the ground, you should be aware of how that radiant heat increases the outside temperature for your pup. While it may seem like there is a nice breeze, that same relief might not be felt walking a few inches above the hot concrete and asphalt.
These are just a few basic tips to keeping your pup(s) safe this summer. Overall, keeping your pups cool, their paws protected, and their skin safe will make this sunny season enjoyable for everyone!