Keeping Teddy cool as a cucumber

Teddy cooling off during a walk on the shores of Lake Michigan. JORDAN BLAKE / CONTRIBUTED
Teddy cooling off during a walk on the shores of Lake Michigan. JORDAN BLAKE / CONTRIBUTED

Teddy, our 5-year old Lab, has a beautiful black coat. It’s shiny, lush and thick. We get compliments on it all the time.

But black dogs and the summer sun don’t mix. According to, because dark colors absorb heat, a black dog can get so overheated its fur would be hot to the touch.

Too much time in the sun could put Teddy at risk for heat stroke.

So, when summer rolls around, my family takes several preventive measures to keep our pooch cool as a cucumber – literally.

Cool treats in the hottest months are a staple at our house. Humans get ice cream sandwiches and orange creamsicles. Teddy gets cucumber and green bean ice cubes.

We grab an ice cube tray and put a small piece of cucumber or green bean in each slot, then fill the tray with water and freeze.

We’ll put one or two of the frozen cubes in Teddy’s water dish to soften them up. Teddy laps them up then licks and munches on the cold treats. Strawberries and blueberries work well, too. Frosty paws and homemade frozen yogurt cubes round out Teddy’s cold treat selections.

The heat also affects Teddy’s exercise regimen. My husband, Ed, changes the times he walks the dog. The two will walk early in the morning and late in the evening when the temperature is cooler instead of midday or when Ed gets home from work.

Ed always checks the pavement before he gets Teddy ready for their walk. Following Sassafras Lowrey’s advice at, if it’s too hot to touch, it’s too hot for Teddy’s paws.

Teddy’s favorite place for a summer stroll is on Lake Michigan’s shores. He walks for a while, stops, takes a dip in the cool, clear water and shakes it off before he and Ed continue on their merry way.

If the humidity is high, Teddy and Ed skip the walk and play games in our home’s lower level where the temps are the coolest. Favorites include tug-of-war, fetch, and if I join them, monkey (Teddy) in the middle.

We will also play hide-and-seek throughout the house. Ed and I take turns hiding and calling “Teddy” to come find us. When he does, he gets a treat.

Teddy’s good at listening to our voices and moving in that direction. The furry child will walk into every room in the house looking for us and his reward, except one. He won’t go into the laundry room. Haven’t figured out why, but if either one of us hides in there he is not going in there to find us or retrieve his reward.

When Teddy does play outside on cooler summer days a dish is always filled with cold water. Fortunately, our backyard’s multiple trees provide lots of shady places for him to relax and cool off. Unfortunately for us, the mulch under said trees will also keep the canine cool. Ever brush mulch out of an uncooperative Lab’s coat?

A few people we know have kiddie pools in their backyards exclusively for their dogs; their kids are all grown. We’ve thought about it but so far Teddy, while cool as a cucumber, remains pool-less.

Karin Spicer, a magazine writer, has been entertaining families for more than 20 years. She lives in Bellbrook with her family and two furry animals all who provide inspiration for her work. She can be reached at


1. Collapsing

2. Difficulty breathing

3. Glassy eyes

4. Stupor depression

5. Bloody diarrhea or vomit


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