Dog Days of Summer

As I’m writing this it is 115 degrees out, boy did these triple digits sneak up on us.  We all like spending more time outdoors but we know that in Las Vegas we are challenged with our blistering heat.  Even though our furry family members live primarily indoors, when we’re outside they want to be with us.

So how can we make our backyards more pet-friendly this summer? 

  1. More important than décor is safety.  There are many safety concerns in our backyards; plants, landscaping materials and surface selections need to be on the top of our list. Dogs especially love to chew and all plants are not compatible with dogs, and if ingested can cause serious health problems.  Along with plants, we must look into what they are stepping on.  Are there toxins that can be harmful when absorbed by their paws or when they lick them? Please take the time to visit the ASPCA Poison Control website for more information.
  2. If you don’t have a pool or don’t want your pup in it, create their own water park.  Instead of placing the kiddie pool on top of the grass, put it in the ground.  Pick one that is shallow enough for your pet to easily get in and out of and a safe size for them. Also by putting in the ground it will keep them from chewing it up, dragging it around or through the doggie door as we’ve all seen on hilarious YouTube videos.  You can surround it with pavers or even incorporate it into your pool design.  Now, yes you will have to drain it, but there are simple siphons you can get at any home improvement store.  There’s even cute pools shaped like bone bones that claim to be chew resistant.
  3. Consider a pondless fountain like a floor or planter fountain water feature. They’ll have fun trying to catch the water while you enjoy watching them and listening to the serene sound of the flowing water. Since Las Vegas is a water crisis area, don’t run it all day, just when you’re home so you and Fido can both enjoy it.
  4. We now have water for them to play in, play with, but more important is water for them to drink.  My girls have three different places for water.  With their beddies, the kitchen and on the patio.   Instead of plain water bowls, I put them in decorative planters and incorporated them in with the other planters on my patio.  If you have larger dogs you use different heights.
  5. Always have a shaded area where they can cool down.  They sunburn just like us, especially short-haired dogs. Whether a dog house with air conditioning and/or misters, yes my girlfriend had both for her pups, or a fun Puppy Cabana with a thatched roof, be creative.  You can find hundreds of ideas on Pintrest.
  6. Just like us, they like to sit back and relax.  My Millie is a sun worshiper so she prefers the cool deck before the afternoon sun.  Whereas, Matilda likes her own fluffy pillow, which I’ve made out of Crypton fabric.  Water runs right off these fabrics which make them perfect for pets and especially outdoors.  If your little or big one likes a chair of his or her own, take a thrift store Adirondack chair and cut the legs off to make it pet height.  You can buy them specifically for pets or make it a DIY project and save money for those patio parties.  Ottomans also make a great place for them to lay.  If you have little ones, you can adjust the height by changing the legs.
  7. If it’s hot on your feet, it’s hot for them also.  Bring color and pattern to your patio with an area rug.  Buy one made for the outdoors or something inexpensive that will last a couple seasons.  If you have artificial grass, remember it’s plastic and gets piping hot.  We put up an automatic awning to cover it during the day.  Yes, we already know we’re crazy puppy parents.

Have a fun and safe summer!

Gail Mayhugh, the owner of GMJ Interior Design has been designing in Las Vegas for over 25 years.  She also supports animal rescues and shelters through her non-profit,