News & Politics

Dog Days of Summer

What can you do with your pup when it’s too hot for a long walk? Here are ways to cool him off.

Unlike people, dogs don’t sweat, which means they overheat more easily than we do. An 85-degree day can feel much hotter to pets. You can look out for signs of heat stroke—a bright-red tongue and gums, sluggish behavior—but a good way to deal with the heat is to plan cool activities.

Take a Dip

The best relief for an overheated dog is runs through a sprinkler or a plunge in the water. For dogs afraid of that, Dawn Sylvia-Stasiewicz of Merit Puppy Training in Georgetown recommends starting with a baby pool: “If you put a little water in with treats in it, the dog will learn to go under the water to get the treat.”

If you want your dog to get some exercise, try the Canine Fitness Center in Crownsville (1353 Generals Hwy.; 410-923-7946;, less than an hour east of DC, where the motto is “Happiness is a very wet nose.” The facility houses two pools where owners bring their dogs for swimming lessons or recreation. Open every day except Sunday, the center operates by appointment and charges $29 for 30 minutes of pool time or $21 for 15 minutes. Serious athletes can take advantage of the underwater treadmill.

An instructor uses a harness and lead for the first swim at the Northern Virginia Animal Swim Center (35469 Millville Rd., Middleburg; 540-687-6816). Once dogs are comfortable in the water, they can practice retrieving tennis balls in the 50-foot-long pool. The facility, open every day but Monday, charges $40 for an introductory swim, $30 for 30-minute sessions after that. You can also buy a package of ten sessions for $250.

For swimmers, Quiet Waters Park (600 Quiet Waters Park Rd., Annapolis; 410-222-1777) offers two fenced parks and a small dog beach where pups splash around in the South River. The park charges $6 a car.

Shed the Extra Layer

Help Fido lose the extra hair—and spare your bathtub the torment—by taking him to a self-serve dog wash. Baths typically include a raised tub, shampoo, towel, brush, electric dryer, and a smock for the washer.

Thursday is the best day to stop at PetMAC LaundroMutt (1722 Florida Ave., NW; 202-387-6888) in DC’s Adams Morgan, when baths are half price. Like most dog washes, PetMAC charges by size: Regular prices range from $13 for a short-haired dog under 20 pounds to $27 for a long-haired dog over 80 pounds. For an extra $1.50, you can add anti-shedding formula or all-natural flea-and-tick deterrent to the shampoo.

Baths range from $18 to $27 at Herndon’s Bark ’N Bubbles (795 Center St.; 703-437-9274), which offers a flea-washing formula for an extra $10 and a $5 doggie toothbrush and paste. For pets that need to exfoliate, try the $3 blueberry facial—an all-natural, edible formula that helps remove eye stains.

At the Healthy Dog Store (1364 E St., SE; 888-265-4049) on Capitol Hill, baths are $18 for every dog; every sixth wash is free. If you aren’t comfortable trimming your dog’s nails, the staff will do it for $12.

Enjoy A Frosty Treat

Some dogs like to chew on ice cubes in warm weather. A cool snack alternative is Purina’s Frosty Paws (, a healthy ice-cream treat for dogs. Served in a small cup and sold at most major grocery stores, Frosty Paws comes in “original” and peanut-butter flavors.

Another household favorite: the beef-knuckle raw dog bone from Nature’s Variety. The frozen bones, available for $10 at theDog Shop in Georgetown (1625 Wisconsin Ave., NW; 202-337-3647) and other area pet stores, are 100 percent natural and good for dogs’ joints, teeth, and gums. If your mutt doesn’t finish the bone in one sitting, you can refreeze it two to three times before tossing. It’s best served outside.

Have a treat with your pet at the Dairy Godmother in Alexandria (2310 Mount Vernon Ave.; 703-683-7767). Owners can cool down with a sorbet or frozen custard while pets work on a puppy pop—a frozen mixture of yogurt, peanut butter, and either banana or pumpkin.

This article first appeared in the July 2009 issue of The Washingtonian. For more articles from that issue, click here.