Our dogs adore us. It’s been proven that dogs feel love for us, and there’s no doubt that they are always excited to see us and greet us with a hero’s welcome, even when we’ve only gone to the garden for five minutes.

Our best friends are extremely versatile and can survive with love and care in almost any climate. However, certain breeds of dog are more specialized for tropical, ocean-side climates than others.

Many a Bermuda dog owner knows the image to well: your dog, lying down, splayed out on the cool tiled floor, tongue lolling out of their mouth. Heat is a never-ending battle for dog owners on our little island, and the problem can be solved by getting dog breeds more suited to heat, or by implementing strategies for keeping your dog cool.

Swimming dogs. Photograph by Betsy Skinner.

How dogs handle heat

Dogs with thick coats often have a hard time in warm climates because they retain heat too well. Shorthaired breeds, like the German shorthaired pointer, whippet, vizsla, Labrador retriever and various terriers, are more suited to hot climates.

Dogs don’t sweat. Instead, they pant to get rid of excess body heat. For this reason, breeds like boxers and bulldogs, which have very short muzzles, have a more difficult time in hot weather.

Dog in paddling pool. Photograph by Betsy Skinner.

How to keep your dog cool

  1. Take your dog swimming – Although dogs are not permitted on Bermuda’s beaches from 1 April – 31 October, there are various rocky coastlines and docks that you can swim your dog from. Bring a toy for your dog to retrieve, or just let them go for a paddle. Bear in mind that not all dogs like water, and may have to be introduced slowly!
  2. Cool-It Bandana – These bandanas can be bought online and are a great solution to overheating. Simply pop the bandana in your fridge or freezer overnight, and wrap it around your dog’s neck the next day. As the day heats up, your dog will remain cool and fashionable.
  3. Cooling beds – Various cooling dog beds can be found online. Instead of giving your dog a cozy, insulated bed to sleep in at night, give them the option of lounging on a thinner mat that will retain less heat.
  4. Air conditioning – If you leave your dog inside during the day, it’s worth leaving the air conditioning on for at least part of the day for them. In addition, if they’ve been playing in the heat and running around, it’s important to get them back into a cool environment to avoid heatstroke.
  5. Give them a haircut – Your longhaired dog will appreciate it so much if you give them a buzz at the start of summer! You can get a groomer to do it, or simply snip off the longer strands with scissors, and use an electric razor with a guard to get it even.
Dogs with Cool-It Bandanas. Photography by Betsy Skinner.