The summers here in Charleston, SC can be brutally warm with feel-like temperatures easily reaching 100+ degrees. The only way to truly escape the heat is to retreat indoors, but most of us would agree that summer is all about enjoying some outdoor fun in the sun. Our furry friends would agree, too! They certainly don’t want to be cooped up inside all day, but this heat is even more taxing on them than us, so here’s a list of our favorite tips and suggestions for having fun while keeping cool during these remaining dog days of summer.
Visit the Beach – There is no shortage of beach and ocean to enjoy here in the lowcountry. Many dogs love to swim in the waves while others might only get their feet wet. But hey, even a little splash of water will help keep you and your pup a little cooler and it will certainly protect your feet from the hot sand. But the best practice, in my opinion, is to avoid the beach altogether during the hottest hours of the day. If you do visit the beach remember to always carry plenty of fresh cool water for your dog to drink and bring an umbrella to provide shady breaks when out of the water.
Sunrise and Sunset Walks – I personally think the ideal time to enjoy the beach with your canine companion is during the sunrise and sunset hours. For one thing, it’s always such a beautiful way to start or end the day. But more importantly, it’s much cooler and easier to enjoy. The sand has cooled off and you don’t need to worry about providing shade. Plus you don’t have the normal beach crowd to weave through. You can just let your dogs run or swim at leisure. Most dog-friendly beaches have off-leash areas and/or hours (usually early mornings and late evenings), but remember to check first. Nothing will ruin your sunset game of fetch like a hefty fine from beach patrol.
Playtime in the Pool – The best $20 Neil and I spent this summer was on a little kiddy pool from Lowes for Zoe. Our old girl still loves to play fetch every day. We usually reserve playtime for early mornings and late evenings when the temps are cooler, but it takes only a few minutes to fill her pool up for some midday play. Many people also let their dogs swim in their regular in-ground pools. In fact, there’s even a dog-friendly pool (Wag n Splash) that you and your pup can visit together in Charleston. Just remember to always supervise dogs when swimming in any body of water.
Shady Trails and Parks – I am a big fan of nature trails so my go-to option for beating the heat whether I’m running solo or when we’re walking the dogs is to find a shady trail to explore. Both Kiawah and Seabrook have a few nice nature trails of their own. James Island County Park also has a few miles of nature trails/paths, plus they have an off-leash dog park with access to fresh swimming water. Or if you’re up for a day trip, you can venture out to explore the many miles of dog-friendly trails in the Francis Marion National Forest. Just remember the bug spray! And as always, plenty of fresh drinking water.
Take a Weekend Getaway – As much as we love the beautiful beaches here in Charleston, we also love to get away to the cool shady retreat of the NC mountains. And so do our dogs! We have always found it relatively easy to find a dog-friendly cabin to rent for a couple nights. Our dogs love being able to go on the longer hikes with us since it’s always shady and we can easily stop for breaks by the fresh water creeks and streams.
Exercise Caution and Be Prepared – The very best way to stay safe and keep cool during the hot summer months is to exercise caution and be prepared. Always have plenty of cool fresh water to prevent dehydration. And a simple rule of thumb to follow: if you think it’s too hot outside then your dog will, too… probably more so!
Is is too hot for you to go for a run or exercise outside? Is the deck, pavement, or sand too hot for your bare feet? Then it is also too hot for your dog! Unfortunately our furry pals can’t tell us when they are overheating so it’s important to know and recognize the signs of heat exhaustion which can very quickly escalate to heat stroke. Signs and symptoms include rapid panting, difficulty breathing, redness around the eyes, and showing signs of weakness such as irritability, confusion, or collapse.
And this should go without saying, but never ever leave your dog alone in a parked car on a warm or hot day. Not even for just a few minutes, because it only takes just a few minutes for a parked car to reach deadly temperatures.