Tips and treats to keep your dog cool during a heat wave

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Author's dog, Paxson, rests near the lake while on a walk as the city looks on. | Matthew Schwerha

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Summertime in the Chicago area means fun in the sun and the opportunity to spend some much needed time outside after what sometimes seems like a never-ending winter.

Dog owners have to walk the fine line of getting their pet enough exercise and ensuring their safety while out in the heat.

Chelsea Mettler, sales associate at the Two Bostons Pet Boutique location in downtown Naperville, provided a list of products that will help keep your dog cool:

1. Cooling Pet Bed by SoothSoft: A mat that you fill up with water and put on the hardwood floor. Its thickness allows it to resist leaks and claw punctures.

“It’s good for older, senior dogs because it’s low to the ground,” Mettler said. “Also, it’s good on their joints because it’s not hard.”

2. Cool-It Bandana: Secure the apparatus around your dog’s neck just like an everyday bandana. The trick? Soak the Cool-It Bandana for half an hour before placing it on your pup. Cooling beads inside the bandana help keep the water at a low temperature for hours.

3. Freezy Pups Kit: Instead of a normal biscuit, help keep your dog cool with this cold treat that comes in the flavors White Cheddar Cheese, Juicy Apple, Sweet Potato ‘n Maple and Chicken Soup.

4. Drinkwell by Veterinary Ventures: Holds over two gallons of water and keeps water from gaining bad tastes or odors.

“Cats and dogs like the activity of the water and it tends to make them drink more,” Mettler said.

5. Cool Treats and Bosco and Roxy’s Frozen Yogrrz: For the dog owner that wants to share everything, including the dining experience, with their pet. Cool Treats are smoothies that come in flavors including apple, pear and banana. Frozen yogurt comes in peanut butter, peanut butter and banana, vanilla and strawberry.

Both products are human grade and can be safely consumed by humans, but, said Mettler, “A lot of humans can’t get past the fact that it is dog food.”

Matthew Timmons, doctor of veterinarian medicine at Naperville Animal Hospital, offered some tips that cost no money, and that every dog owner should know:

1. If your dog is active and must get some sort of extended exercise, make sure you have them outside at the proper time of day.

“One of the easiest things [to do] is to walk your dog early in the day or late in the day when it is cooler,” Timmons said. “[Dogs] don’t have sweat glands so they can only blow off steam through panting. This makes them more susceptible to heat.”

2. Have some form of circulation of the air even when inside. If you don’t have air conditioning, at the very least, have a rotating fan.

3. Don’t let your dog be outside for more than 15 minutes at a time during the hottest part of the day.

“If you’re going to be out,” Timmons said, “stay in shaded areas on walks and if your dog is panting heavily, go back inside.”

4. Pugs, bulldogs or any dog with a “smushed” face is more susceptible in the heat. Also, any dog with kidney issues, heart problems or a weight problem needs to be monitored extra cautiously.

5. With the heat we’ve had as of late, Timmons said you should never leave your dog alone in the car, even with the windows cracked. They can overheat in two to five minutes.

6. The natural body temperature of a dog sits at 100 to 102 degrees, a few degrees higher than a human’s. With their thick hair and lack of sweat glands, Timmons said dogs are at a disadvantage in the heat.

“If you wouldn’t want to be [out in the heat] in a sweater, then your dog doesn’t want to be either.”

Follow Matthew Schwerha on Twitter @MatthewSchwerha