Q: I'm looking for some ways to keep my boxer, Betty, cool and entertained when it is really hot outside. I've been told not to walk her during the heat of the day, but I worry she's not getting enough exercise. Any ideas? I am on a limited budget.
A: You've gotten good advice. Boxers and other short-muzzled breeds are particularly susceptible to the heat, due to the structure of their airways. I appreciate that you are not only interested in keeping Betty cool, but also healthy, and both physical and mental stimulation are important.
As we get into the heat of summer, adjust your schedule if needed, so you can walk Betty during the cooler early morning or evening hours. During the heat of the day, remaining indoors is best, although a cool, covered patio can also work, with some additional considerations.
If Betty enjoys water, a kiddie pool with fresh, clean water might be just the thing to not only keep her cool, but provide some entertainment as well, and I'm not only talking about the dog! After filling the pool, cut a hot dog or cheese stick into pea-sized pieces. Show Betty those enticing goodies, and then toss them all into the pool; it's her job to bob, paw and splash as she works to get all of those goodies into her mouth.
One of my dogs' favorite water games involves the hose. I turn it on, and wave the stream of water around, and they jump and grab at it. If Betty enjoys this, do it on the grass so the water is not wasted.
Fill resealable gallon-sized plastic bags with water and lay them flat in the freezer. Once frozen, put a couple of them on the floor and cover with a few towels to offer Betty a nice cool place to lie down.
An empty plastic soda bottle can easily be repurposed into a toy. Fill it three-quarters full of water and freeze upright. You can add a few small pieces of meat for an extra bit of attraction if you wish. Once frozen, offer it to Betty outside, and encourage her to go after it. Treat it like a soccer ball, let her lick and chew on it, and the treats will become available to her as it melts.
Freeze chicken broth in an ice cube tray. Then put three or four broth cubes into Betty's water bowl to add a little flavor, which will encourage her to drink more and thus keep her well hydrated. If you have a few toys with ports to stuff goodies into like peanut butter or cream cheese, freeze them before offering to her.