Photo of Golden Retriever dog playing in the creek.

Summer Lovin'

by Kris Phillips

Who else thought life would be back to normal by the time the temps reached the 90’s? But instead of returning to normal, 2020 seems to be dishing out more and more turbulence. It’s not my place to remind you of what’s wrong in the world. I’m sure your news feed is as swamped as mine is. I believe in my soul that we could all use more fresh air, sunshine, peace and time with dogs.  You’ve been penned up for weeks. It’s time to get outside and reconnect with the natural world.

Dog in the tupilsSummer’s in full swing and the temperatures just keep climbing so before you head out into the world keep a few precautions in mind.

Step out when the sun is low: It’ll be coolest first thing in the morning and right before sunset are the best times for outdoor activity.

Check the pavement. The road or sidewalk can be much hotter than the air temperature. On hot days your pup could suffer severe burns in just minutes. The best way to be sure is to lay your hand on the road and hold it there for at least 30 seconds. If it’s too hot to leave your hand down, it’s too hot for them to walk on. Letting your dog walk in the grass is the best option. Also, because they’re lighter in color sidewalks will usually be cooler than the road. And it’s never a bad idea to carry a pair of booties for a little extra coverage.

Water is life: Make sure your pets stay hydrated. Keep a full bowl of water at the ready. If you are walking or hiking make sure you take a collapsible bowl and extra water. It’s best to offer small amounts of water often. If your dog likes to gulp down water until they yak it back up, try filling the bowl with ice cubes first then top off with water. It’ll help slow them down.
Get High: The higher the altitude the cooler the temps. Load your pups up and head for the mountains. In fact, if you go far enough you can even still find snow! We are so lucky to live so close to the Rockies. And this time of year is the absolute best time to take advantage of it. But don’t under-estimate the climb. Just a couple weeks ago Robbie & I loaded the dogs up and headed for one of our favorite trails. Even though it was a bit cooler than the valley we still had to stop much more frequently than usual to water the dogs. Consider teaching your dog to drink out of a bottle.Take up water sports: So many trails around Denver follow our many water ways. Especially if you have to go out in the heat find a trail that gives you & your pup a chance to dip your toes in and cool off. Bear Creek Trail winds from Downtown into the foothills and it is one of my favorite places to jog. When we get too warm a quick dip in the creek cools off even the hottest of dogs. Or find a local lake or pond for a rousing game of fetch. Stand-Up Paddleboard is one of my favorite summertime hobbies. It can take some dogs a little while to get comfortable but there’s nothing more relaxing on a hot day than paddling across Chatfield Reservoir!

If you’re hot, they’re hot; We all know better than to leave dogs in hot cars. But it can also be dangerous to leave your pet unattended in the back yard. Even if you put out lots of water. While working in the animal ER I saw old dogs come in every summer with heat stroke after laying in the sun in the back yard, even with a full bowl of water just 10 feet away. Let ’em stay inside where there’s air conditioning when you can’t keep an eye on them. Especially when it comes to those old guys. In fact, no matter what you’re doing with your old dog, keep in mind that he may be less heat tolerant.

*Summer activities may not be right for all dogs. Elderly, out-of-shape, and brachiocephalic (flat-faced) dogs may not be able to regulate their body temperature. Talk to your vet about understanding your dogs limits.

*  Watch your dog closely for any signs of distress: Excessive panting, change in gum color or tackyness,  excessive or lack of salivation. Keep in mind that dogs are programmed not to show weakness.


Don’t let the summer sun keep you locked inside. Get out there and enjoy it safely!


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