As a brachycephalic (short-nosed) dog breed, pugs lack the ability to regulate their body temperature as easily as other dog breeds. In simple terms, dogs with “normal” snouts can keep themselves cool in summer by releasing heat and cooling incoming air.
Brachycephalic dogs, however, lack this ability due to their unusually small air passages and short noses.
As a pug owner, you need to take active steps to protect your pug from overheating in the warm summer months. Read on for five simple tips to keep your pug cool and relaxed when temperatures soar.
Choose Your Walk Times Carefully
Whether you walk your pug yourself or use a dog walking service, choose the times for your walks very carefully to avoid overheating your pug. A lot will depend on where you live and your normal daily routine, but very early in the morning or late in the evening are the safest times to head out for a walk while avoiding the hottest part of the day.
If you normally walk your dog right after work, delay your walk for a couple of hours and head out in the cooler evening instead. If you normally enjoy a walk together before you start your day, take the opportunity to wake up a little earlier than normal and watch the sunrise while spending quality time with your pet.
Not only is your pug at risk of overheating during a walk in the midday sun, but they could also suffer burns on the delicate pads of their feet on a hot road, footpath, or sand.
By sticking to shady areas and walking during the cooler parts of the day, you can still enjoy your regular exercise sessions with your pug without running the risk of your dog overheating.
It goes without saying, but all animals need access to fresh, cool drinking water at all times. This means bringing a bottle of water and a collapsible bowl with you on walks and ensuring that you replenish your dog’s drinking water regularly throughout the day.
Rather than topping up the water bowl, take the extra step of emptying, rinsing, and refilling the bowl every time. This prevents warm, stagnant water from settling to the bottom of the bowl.
There are a lot of handy portable dog water bowls on the market.
Remember that water can also come from food. Your pug will love a treat of fresh or frozen strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, or watermelon – all of which have a high-water content but without the sugar.
Has anyone ever told you that pugs don’t like the water, and they definitely don’t swim? These are just two of the many myths about pugs that make the rounds from time to time.
While it’s true that not all pugs like swimming, some do. And most pugs enjoy relaxing or playing in the water – just on their own terms. Water sports and activities are an excellent way of staying cool in summer, so experiment with various activities and see what your dog enjoys.
If you’re heading to the beach or lake, a lightweight lifejacket will keep your dog safe and allow them to get wet without exerting too much energy trying to stay afloat. At home, a paddling pool with some toys to chase or rescue will provide plenty of entertainment for your pug while keeping them cool at the same time.
Pugs are known for being loyal to a fault, and some pugs will faithfully follow their human counterparts everywhere – even if that means a whole afternoon working in the garden or mowing the lawn.
If your pug is like your second shadow, consider how you can provide shade while you’re spending time outdoors. Remember that what might feel like a balmy summer afternoon to you could be unbearably hot for your pug.
A movable playpen can help confine your dog to a nearby shady area so they can be near you while you work outdoors, or a pop-up tent or gazebo can help you bring your dog wherever you go without the risk of overheating.
If your pug will spend time in a boarding facility during the summer months, checking that adequate shade is provided at all times is just one of the many safe summer dog boarding rules and best practices you should follow. The last thing you want is for your pug to be forced to spend mandatory exercise time in a fenced-off play area in full sun every day.
Grooming and Skin Care
Summertime is the perfect time of year to groom your pug and be extra vigilant about skin protection. Pugs famously have a thick, double-layered coat which is excellent for keeping them warm during winter, but which can cause overheating in summer.
A de-shedding brush or comb will strip out the dead hair from your pug’s coat without requiring a trip to the groomer.
Those de-shedding brushes are inexpensive. This one on Amazon is a best seller with great ratings, and we have been using this too.
If you are heading outdoors with your pug in summer – even if you choose the cooler part of the day and stick to shaded areas – your pug’s delicate skin could still be at risk of sunburn or even skin cancers. There are plenty of natural creams and gels to apply to your dog’s face and paws to provide natural sun protection without unnecessary chemicals.
As any well-loved pug would tell you if they could, pugs are simply not designed to live outdoors. Pugs were made for climate-controlled, comfortable houses with soft, comfortable beds, good food and fresh water, and plenty of love and adoration. Most pugs are happy to leave the rugged outdoor life to the working dogs and are more than content to live the good life indoors.
Unfortunately, since pugs simply aren’t used to roughing it outdoors, some pugs haven’t developed the ability to warn their faithful humans when they’re struggling in the heat. While some pugs will pant and look uncomfortable, others will lie directly in the heat looking as if they’re enjoying soaking up the summer sun.
As a pug owner, you need to be vigilant and decide for yourself when your pug has had enough heat and needs to head back indoors. Don’t let your pug’s happy-go-lucky nature fool you – some pugs won’t let on when they’re struggling outdoors.