The summer heat gets to all of us, and our pets are no exception! Dogs need to spend time outside all year round, but that does not mean they are immune from the effects of the weather. Depending on their breed dogs may be more or less susceptible to suffering in the heat. Dogs benefit from the same solution humans use to escape intense heat: shade.
Providing your dog with shade in the backyard during the hot months is essential to maintaining your dog’s health and happiness. If you do not have much in the way of natural shade options, you can purchase or create a shading implement to give your dog needed relief.
Our dogs are a part of the family, and we certainly want them to be comfortable. However, our dogs can’t exactly tell us what they need and like. Keep reading to learn how to create a shading solution your dog is sure to love!
What Does Your Dog Need from a Shade Option?
What exactly makes the perfect backyard shade solution for your dog? There are several critical factors that shade should meet to protect your dog from heat. If you do not have a natural area that already meets these requirements then you need to create something for your dog.
Shade is all about reducing heat, and a closed-in shade option simply will not do that. Dog houses are not good shade options! Their walls trap heat making them a sweltering place on a hot summer day. For a shady place to be cool, it needs to be open to airflow.
Shady All the Time
The sun moves in the sky (technically it’s the earth moving, but you get the point), and with it, shade and shadows move as well. If the shade for your dog is provided by an awning, trees, or other tall objects then you need to monitor how that shade moves throughout the day. There should be shade available at all times, and definitely during the midday heat.
Shade protects from above, but the stuff under your dog can also cause heat problems. You should never have your dog’s shady area on concrete or pavement. These surfaces absorb heat, making them less than ideal for cooling. At the most, your dog should have a grassy shady area. Elevated shade solutions provide even more cooling benefits.
What Can Cause a Dog to Require More Shade?
From chihuahuas to mastiffs, there is a lot of variety in the world of dogs. How concerned you need to be about your dog’s shading will depend largely on your dog. Here are some traits that can make a dog more susceptible to heat, and thus in need of better shade.
Even if your dog does not have one of these traits, they need shade. Overall, because dogs do not sweat, they have a harder time regulating their body temperature in the heat than humans. The above features simply make a dog more susceptible to heat which means you should take extra care in providing their shading option.
Hopefully, most of us realized this on our own, but dogs with thick coats need help staying cool. Dog breeds such as huskies, German Shepherds, and Pomeranians were all bred with cold weather in mind. Thus, they need extra help staying cool. In especially hot areas, some thick fur breeds are even shaved during the summer months to help with heat tolerance.
At some point, you probably figured out that when you wear a dark color shirt in the sun you get hotter than when you wear a light-colored shirt. Dark colors absorb more sun, and it works the same way with a dog’s fur. A black dog will soak in a lot more heat than a white dog. If your best friend has a dark coat, he will need shade to escape from the sun.
Smushed Face (Brachycephalic)
Dogs do not sweat. They cool themselves by panting, and dogs that have been bred to have smushed faces, known as brachycephalic dogs, have a harder time doing this as effectively. Common breeds with this feature include bulldogs, mastiffs, pugs, and Shih Tzus, although there are many more.
This one may seem counterintuitive, but dogs with incredibly thin fur (or the few hairless breeds) need extra sun protection as well but for a slightly different reason. While these dogs may not have such a high risk of overheating, they can get sunburnt. If your dog does not have adequate fur protection from the sun they need shade to protect their skin.
Best Shading Options for Your Dog
There is a host of shading solutions you can buy to keep your dog safe from the heat. Here are some products and ideas that will give your dog a shady haven.
Elevated Cot with Canopy
There are a lot of brands that make these, but as long as it has the elevated cot and canopy any of them are a great shade solution for your dog! The canopy provides shade and the elevated bed allows air to flow under your dog for a bed that is cool and comfy.
If your dog happens to sleep outside, they need shade in their pen! Remember that dog houses get incredibly hot in the summer, so a dog house will not suffice as shade. The easiest way to make sure that your dog has shade all day long is a roofed pen.
You can buy pens that come with a frame and attachable roof or simply spread some type of cover or tarp over your dog’s pen during the summer months. You will need to ensure that whatever you use is waterproof and durable.
Umbrellas are not just great for by the pool and at the beach, they can also work as a dog shading tool. Of course, patio umbrellas usually go in tables, which your dog will likely not be sitting at. To fix this problem use a large flower pot to hold the umbrella instead! Your dog will have instant all-day shade.
Another shading option for humans that can work just as well for dogs is a sun sail. These large pieces of fabric are relatively easy to install for a lasting shade solution. Not only can your dog get a shady area out of this, but you can also create more shade for yourself and your family to enjoy!
If you don’t want to buy something there are a lot of ways to create a dog shade solution on your own. You can use PVC pipe or wood to make a four-sided open frame. Then simply add a roof made of fabric or a simple tarp for a dog-sized canopy.
If you are worried about the canopy standing, or you are low on construction materials you can also make an A-frame. This essentially involves two covered sides that hinge together at the top. This creates shade, and still leaves two open sides. Do not make a four-sided structure! It will reduce airflow and become stifling.
You can also hang fabric between trees or porch railings for a DIY shade that doesn’t even require a frame. With a little creativity, there are even more options for creating shade for your dog!
If you sweat in the summer, remember that your dog is probably just as hot, and he/she cannot sweat! Besides ensuring that your dog has access to plenty of water, make sure that they also have constant access to a shady area with plenty of airflow and a cool surface on which they can lay!