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Top Foods for Dogs in Summer: Dog Diets for the Heat

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By Nicole Cosgrove

Dog Heat Stroke

Summertime in hot climates can be a difficult time of year for dogs. Some are better suited to it — for instance, Chihuahuas with their short coats and small bodies. However, others, like the Siberian Husky or English Boxer, have a much lower tolerance.

One of the symptoms of overheating during the summer is a loss of appetite. Your pup might suddenly start refusing to eat their favorite food or leaving most of it in the dish. Although a loss of appetite can come from a deeper illness, it is often linked to something much less severe.

Certain types of food are considered “hot” foods, with specific sources of carbohydrates and proteins. Others are considered “cooling.” Your dog friend is more in tune with this than you are, as they might reject certain foods that they generally enjoy.

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The Danger of Heatstroke

First, feeding your pup the right food is not always the most critical solution. Heatstroke in dogs is a hazardous illness. It can cause restlessness, increased heart rate, vomiting, and respiratory issues. If left untreated, it leads to more severe health complications.

To protect your dog from heatstroke, start by making sure that they are hydrated. Give them plenty of water. Even if you are going for a short walk on a hot day, make sure they have water when they need it.

Heatstroke doesn’t only strike when temperatures are extreme. It also occurs when they are exposed to the sun for prolonged periods or enclosed in a room or car without proper ventilation.

Consider how you would protect yourself from the sun and hot temperatures. Other than sunscreen, perhaps, apply those same ideas to your pup.

You can also consider getting your pet a haircut if they have long hair.

Once those basics are taken care of, consider their diet. What are they eating? Do they have any interest in it? Does it cause them to struggle more against the heat, or does it help keep them cool?

Cooling Proteins for Dogs

Dog Cooling
Image Credit: cocoparisienne, Pixabay

The idea behind cooling and warming food starts with traditional Chinese medicine. As further research has been done throughout recent decades, veterinarians have found merit in the views.

Foods can produce a thermal effect on the body based on how they are metabolized. Specific protein sources make it easier for dogs to work through and produce different thermal energy and initiate various processes.

Proteins that help keep a dog cool include cod, rabbit, duck, duck eggs, tofu, yogurt, and turkey. Many proteins typically used in North American dog mixes produce more warming effects, like chicken, lamb, venison, and trout.

Cooling Carbohydrates for Dogs

Carbohydrates are another essential addition to a dog’s diet. They also have the potential to be great foods for dogs in summer as they induce cooling or warming effects in a pup’s body. Think of it like this: On a hot day, would you prefer a greasy bacon plate and warm mashed potatoes or some salad with fish and rice?

In the summer, try to avoid food with sources that involve dense carbs, like root vegetables and potatoes. Instead, keep their carbohydrates based around grains like barley, millet, buckwheat,  and wild rice.

Carbs to avoid during hot months include oats, sweet potatoes, and sticky rice. Other sources that are on more of a neutral playing field are quinoa, brown rice, white potatoes, pumpkin, white rice, and yams.

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Summertime Dog Foods to Consider

Dog Under the Sun
Image Credit: Alexas_Fotos, Pixabay

It can be challenging to find the perfect summertime food for dogs that become warm-weather picky.

Many dog owners who switch out their pup’s summertime meals opt for a raw diet for at least part of the year. That way, you have more control over what they are eating, where it comes from, and its potential effects on their bodies.

If you don’t have time for this, the shortlist below gives you several good commercial options. Remember to also consider your pup’s personal preferences.

Each one listed below has a different primary source of protein. The rest of the ingredients are mixed.

The 3 Best Foods for Dogs in Summer

1. Farmina Natural & Delicious

Farmina Natural & Delicious

Farmina makes its Natural & Delicious blend of dog food with cod and orange, both great cooling foods. The grains used for carbohydrate and oil content include spelt and oats. The food is meant for adult dogs in medium to large breeds. They do offer a puppy blend if you have one hot dog.

The rest of the ingredients are mainly a mix of fruits and vegetables and vitamin and nutrient supplements to round out a healthy diet at any time of the year.

  • Both cooling proteins and carbohydrates
  • Offer both adult and puppy blends
  • Plenty of nutrients and vitamins
  • Expensive compared to similar products

2. Wellness Simple Limited Ingredients

Wellness Simple Limited Ingredients

There are not vast amounts of options when it comes to manufactured dog foods with duck as the primary source of protein. However, Wellness Simple Limited Ingredients is both duck-based and includes several other cooling ingredients.

Since ducks are not typically large animals, food blends with duck are often mixed with other poultry, such as chicken or turkey. This food is not. It is primarily made for dogs with allergies to other familiar sources of protein.

It is made without gluten, wheat, or corn and instead has ground flaxseed, which also has cooling properties.

  • Duck is the single source of protein
  • Cooling flaxseed used instead
  • Useful if your pup also has food allergies
  • Expensive compared to other premium brands

3. Nature’s Variety Instinct Grain-Free Recipe with Real Rabbit

Nature’s Variety Instinct Grain-Free Recipe with Real Rabbit

Nature’s Variety is a bit more well-known than the other two brands on our list. The company’s goal is to craft supremely nutritious foods for dogs. It is careful with sourcing all its ingredients.

Real Rabbit is one recipe that is a little more outside the box. Rabbits are a cooling source of protein. This formula is also grain-free and filled with carbohydrate sources that are easier to digest during the summer months.

The kibble is raw coated and thus is quite fresh compared to many other dog foods. Unfortunately, rabbit is not the only source of protein in this food, although it is the primary one. Salmon is also used, which is not cooling. Whitefish meal is, though, and is within the first eight listed ingredients.

  • Raw coated kibble brings in pros of a raw diet
  • Rabbit is the primary source of protein
  • Carbs like chickpeas are cooling
  • Salmon meal is a heating source of protein

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Cooling Summer Treats for Dogs

If you have worked really hard trying to find the right food for your pup and finally feel like you have nailed it, you might not want to switch everything out. Instead, take note if your dog starts to get hungry and hot. Try feeding them one of these treats to cool them down.

Remember: Treats should only make up a maximum of 10% of a dog’s daily diet.

  • Watermelon — Some foods help on hot days by being sources of water. Since watermelon is 90% water, they fit well into this category. Watch out for the seeds, as they can present a choking hazard for some and are slightly toxic. Watermelon is also packed with potassium, fiber, and vitamins, such as A, B6, and C.
  • Cucumbers — Along the same line as watermelon, cucumbers are primarily water. They are also a good pick for dogs that struggle with obesity. They also contain vitamins B1, B7, K, and C. Although they are mostly water, they also have potassium, copper, and magnesium within their green skin.
  • Green Beans — Green beans are a snack full of fiber and vitamins. They are also low in calories and don’t make as much of a dent in a daily diet. Freeze or refrigerate them before serving for the maximum effect.
  • Dog Ice Cream — There are doggie brands of ice cream. The human version is not suitable for them — too high in sugars and harmful fats. But as a special treat, figure out what their favorite flavor might be and give them a bite on a particularly hot day.
  • Coconut Milk — Spice up their drinks by using coconut milk. It adds further nutrition in their diet while still keeping them hydrated. Keep in mind that puppies may have an intolerance to coconut milk, so wait to give it to them until they are at least a year old.
  • Celery — Celery is another one of those vegetables largely made up of water. It contains plenty of fiber as well. If you want to feed your doggo celery, make sure to cut it into smaller pieces. The long strings inside can be a choking hazard.
  • Apple — Apple is a common healthy snack for dogs. The crisp taste and texture have them always ready for more. If you want to make them happy, dip the slices in peanut butter first.
  • Oranges — Oranges can present a danger to dogs if given any part of the peel or the seeds. The flesh packs a large nutritional punch, though. It is loaded with essential vitamins like A, B1, B6, and C, as well as plenty of iron and calcium. Since it has high water content, it is another perfect match for a sunny day.
  • Mangoes — Just like oranges, do not feed the peel or the pit to your dog. Otherwise, it is a rich, scrumptious source of vitamins, flavonoids, antioxidants, and fibers. It is juicy as well, a relief on a hot day.
  • Cooling Herbs — Cooking herbs into some of their food or mixing it with their water can offer pups the same cooling sensation that you might experience. The best herbs for this effect are peppermint and marjoram.

Feeding Tips for Hot Days

Dog Eating Steak_shutterstock_A.P.S.Photography
Image Credit: A.P.S.Photography, Shutterstock

Keep these tips and tricks in mind when feeding your dog on hot days.

1. Track your dog’s eating habits

As the temperature amps up, so should your awareness of your dog’s habits. If you notice them starting to show less interest in their food, then it might be time to change.

2. Consider thinning out heavy mealtimes

Full-blown dishes of kibble two or three times during the day can end up being more than what a dog needs. Typically, in the summer, dogs slow down, stop moving as much, and exert less energy overall. They don’t need as much food during these periods.

3. Feed them in cool areas

Feeding them in a cool place starts them off cooler while the body starts to metabolize. Whether you feed them in air conditioning inside or in shady areas outside, dogs will gladly dive in during cooler times of the day.

4. Avoid warming foods and fatty meats

If your dog is suffering from the heat, avoid warming foods. Fatty meats are always included in these, since it takes much more effort for their system to digest the fat.

5. Supplement with cooling treats

If you decide to thin out the heavier meal times, use a few of the cooling treats from the list above. Sprinkle them throughout the day to keep them consistently cooler, inside and out.

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In Summary

Heatstroke in dogs can be quite dangerous. Watch out for it, especially during the summer months. It is best to keep them out of unventilated areas and protect them from long bouts of sun exposure, even in warm weather.

If you look for ways to keep them cool, consider changing their diet so it is easier for them to digest. Stay away from foods that cause warm reactions, and give them treats that cause cool reactions.

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Featured Image Credit: Yiorgi, Shutterstock

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