I receive many questions about living with a dog in the desert. Certainly, many Phoenix area residents have dogs as pets, but living in a region where summer temperatures can be higher than 100 for a good part of the summer means that there are some things you should know to keep your pet happy and healthy.
Things to Know About Having a Dog in the Desert Heat
Dogs in the House
The best situation for your dog would be to have the dog be trained as an indoor pet, where she can keep cool inside the air conditioned house during the hot summer days. Keep the thermostat at a reasonable temperature for your pet.
Dogs in the Yard
If the dog must be kept in the yard during the hot parts of the day in the summer it is absolutely essential that there be a dark, shady place where the dog can escape from the blazing sun. A tree is probably not good enough. A ventilated dog house, or a pen with shade cover, or a covered patio is a must. Make sure that there is adequate shade at all times of the day that the dog is outside.
Dogs and Water
If the dog is outside, make certain that there is a good supply of clean water in a weighted dish (or two in different locations in case one gets knocked over anyway).
Keeping Dogs Cool
Some dogs enjoy water and can keep cool if a misting system is left on during the day, or if there's a kiddy wading pool for them with a couple of inches of water in it where they can sit to cool off. Keep these in the shade, too. Sitting in a tub of 110 degree water won't help the dog. Some people I know say that they provide a sandbox with damp sand for the dog. Digging must be allowed in the sandbox--you'll only frustrate a dog with a sandbox where digging is not permitted!
Dogs in the Pool
If your dog has access to your swimming pool or spa, make sure the dog is trained to get out of the pool. The dog needs to know how to get to the steps. If there are no steps or shallow areas, like in some lap pools, make sure the pool is fenced and locked so the dog can't get in. Every year puppies and dogs drown in backyard pools because they could jump in, but they couldn't get out.
Dogs That Swim
Speaking of dogs that love to swim, we know that there are certain breeds that were born to do just that, and they are ever-so-happy cooling off at the beach or at the lake. Here's the problem--we don't have a beach in Phoenix, and animals are not allowed in our lakes or canals. Even if they were, you wouldn't want your dog wading in, or even drinking, the water in our local lakes which are mostly reclaimed water and can easily make your pet very sick. If you have a breed that must play in the water, there is only one place in the Valley where you can take her, and it is in Gilbert.