Yikes! It’s hot-hot-hot here in Texas. We’ve hit triple digits already. Shadow-Pup is NOT happy. He misses his ZOOMIES in the back garden, but I’m afraid to let him overdo too much. It’s time for hot weather games for pets and keeping cats and dogs cool in hot weather. This year, I’ve invested in more indoor fun for Karma-Kat and Shadow-pup, some with the help of pet products companies sharing neato-torpedo products. Here are some of my favorite pet hot weather games. You can also learn more about hot weather safety here.
Hot Weather Games for Dogs
Shadow-Pup appears to be following in Magic’s paw steps. He loves playing with stuffies. He inherited one of the Tearribles from Magic–and then Bravo had his turn playing with it, and now Shadow gets to rip it apart (Velcro, y’all!) and begs for me to put it back together. I bought the extra-large size back when the company launched, and despite needing to repair a bit where Velcro has pulled away, this toy stands up to the dog-induced trauma for years. It’s machine washable, too, although I’ve never had occasion to wash it. Highly recommended! Oh, you will need to put it out of reach after a play period, or dogs probably will chew up the small pieces they’ve pulled off.
Did I mention Shadow loves to tear things apart? Many dogs do this, and his fav style toy include the toy-within-a-toy products like this Hide-A-Squirrel. It comes in small, medium, large, and extra-large, with individual squeaky squirrels that nest inside the “house.” I bought Shadow the XL size, and also got an extra set of squirrels–because he destroys those over time. Karma occassionally swipes a squirrel and bunny-kicks it ito submission, too. There are lots of similar hide-a-toy products out there that can help keep bored dogs engaged when they can’t get out in the heat. Learn the signs and first aid for heatstroke here.
For cats, we’d call this a “fishing-pole lure toy.” Karma-Kat has a bunch of them, and loves to stalk, chase, pounce, and bite the feather lure at the end of the string. We have to close the door to keep Shadow-Pup out because he wants in on the fun–and his bigger teeth and strength destroys the cat wand toys. Also, dogs tend to eat these smaller lures, a danger when they swallow inedible objects.
Years ago, I learned about flirt poles (aka flirt sticks), a heavy-duty version of this toy, used to help condition dogs for endurance competitions like schutzhund, agility, or lure coursing. And with temperatures skyrocketing, it seemed the perfect time to purchase one and find out if it appealed to Shadow.
Turns out, he ADORES this toy! Begs to play each evening, and we have to shut it in the pantry in between times to keep him from destroying it. I got this Outward Hound Tail Teaser Wand that comes with two fuzzy lures that squeak and rattle. You can get replacements when your dog ultimately disembowels the squeaky/rattle sound in the fuzzy toy. The wand portion reminds me of a riding crop, heavy-duty and flexible. Oh, and equal time—Karma now chases Shadow’s flirt toy, too, so we still need to separate the pair during this game! This isn’t designed for a tug toy, but rather to hold overhead or along the ground for your dog to chase. Let him catch it now and again to reward the game. A great indoor option for small sighthounds, terriers, or any dog that loves to chase.
LifePro Paw Runner Dog Treadmill
I have a desk treadmill so that I can exercise while checking email, and don’t have to put up with outside heat, mosquitoes, or icy weather in winter. So when a representative of LifePro reached out to me and offered to send me the LifePro Paw Runner Dog Treadmill, I welcomed the opportunity to test it with Shadow-Pup.
I’ve delayed writing about it because, well, it didn’t work for him. That doesn’t mean a dog treadmill won’t work for other pet parents, though. I really liked that the designers addressed the dog’s sensitive hearing with a low-noise motor. And just like my human treadmill, there’s a safety key and an emergency off-switch if the dog falls off the track.
It works great for small to medium-size dogs–it won’t accommodate the big guys—and is ideal for conditioning performance canines or rehabbing for dogs after surgery or injury. Be aware that it comes in a gi-normous box (see that picture with Shadow–he’s 45 pounds). The actual treadmill measures 48 x 22.8 x 41.75 inches, but the box with padding barely fit in the back seat of my car. My postal guy insisted on schlepping it out to my car when it arrived, or I couldn’t have got it home! This great product ain’t cheap but ranks as a wonderful investment for the right pet lover.
Cats also would enjoy the treadmill, with a bit of a learning curve (Bengal cats, anyone?!). I plan to donate the Paw Runner Dog Treadmill to an organization (ideally) or the individual that would benefit most from its use. Unless the recipient funds shipping, the offer only applies to local (North Texas). Suggestions for a new home appreciated. Vet clinics? Rescues? Pet boarding/daycare facilities? Let me know.
Hot Weather Games for Cats
Seren-kitty used to chase the Ping-Pong ball in the (empty and dry!) bathtub…that kept me from having to fish it out from under the furniture. For indoor games, though, we have bubble-chasing games that the dog and Karma-Kat enjoy. Some bubbles purport to smell like catnip.
While dogs may dive into the pool, cats like to turn throw rugs into dry land slip-and-slides. Karma loves to “towel surf” with me dragging a towel or blanket across the floor for him to pounce and ride. These days, Karma’s enjoying tag games with the Shadow-Pup, too. Review these tips on how cats play so you know the signs if fun turns into danger.
At our house, we have two lovely cat trees in the downstairs living room area, a fantastic cat tunnel in the master bedroom, and another great cat tree at the top of the stairs overlooking the whole area. Karma lords it over the dog from these second story elevations. But then I got an email from a new-cat-on-the-blog offering a look at their modular kitty habitat. Enter Purrini.
I received a tidy box filled with two plastic sleeves. Each sleeve contained an assortment of shapes, folded flat for storage, able to morph into cubes or triangles. Some have cat holes to travel from one unit to the next. When combined with secure Velcro flaps, they create tunnels, multi-level houses, and really anything you can imagine.
A handy fold-out flier comes with the modular units with basic instructions on how to assemble the different shapes, and build structures: Bungalow, two-story building, Cabin, Fence, even a pair of “towers” with an arch connecting between.
Honestly, I found it all a bit intimidating! The panels sat in the box for several weeks before I experimented. I’m not done yet (I’ll share pictures when I’m satisfied). But—it comes together quickly, holds Karma-Kat’s not insubstantial heft, and (how about that!) the water-resistent material makes cleanup a breeze if you have a (hark!) accident. The Purina Playmate engages the human’s creativity, too. Have your kids design the purr-fect cat condo. For multiple cat homes, you can provide plenty of kitty real estate to reduce feline arguing over resources. I’m all about environmental enrichment for cats, and the Purrini Playmate offers just what the kitty ordered!
As I wrote this post, I see that Purina currently offers a discount for the product, too. Check it out at the website.
Keeping Cats & Dogs Cool in Hot Weather
What kind of cat toys float your kitty’s boat? Do your pets enjoy water fountains? Would your hot dog relish a cooling bed, or a wading pool? I offer some more hot weather games and tips in the ASK AMY video, below.
And for a flash from the past, enjoy the Magical-Dawg video (below) of some water fun. I need to get that doggy tub out this year and see if Shadow might indulge.
How do your dogs deal with the weather? Please share your tips for keeping hot dogs cool customers!
I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book giveaways and appearances related to my September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE!
Amy Shojai, CABC is a certified cat & dog behavior consultant, a consultant to the pet industry, and the award-winning author of 35+ pet-centric books and Thrillers with Bite! Oh, and she loves bling!