Q: My kids want our 8-year-old pug to join us at the park, the beach and just about everywhere else we go this summer. Is that a good idea?

A: I would love to spend hours soaking up the scene on a restaurant patio with my dog Lulu. But she considers the great outdoors her own personal playground. This diva isn’t shy about stating her case to any other canines within a 10-mile radius. So I just watch forlornly as others socialize with their pups and their beverages.

In this heat, Lulu isn’t missing much. While they do have sweat glands, dogs lack our built-in air conditioning system. Instead of sweating, dogs pant to cool off. To keep your sweet pug from becoming an uncomfortably hot dog, and putting a damper on the summer fun, consider these tips:

Stock up on cool water: Keep plenty of water readily available for your pug at all times. I like to keep a bottle in the car in case of emergencies. Make sure you do the same when your pup rides along for summer fun in the sun.

Avoid exposure during peak hours: There’s nothing wrong with bringing your pug to the park, but not when the sun is blazing. The same applies to regular walks or sessions playing fetch outdoors.

Watch for signs of overexposure: If you notice excessive panting, your dog is hot to the touch or acting lethargic, take action. Soak the dog with cool — not cold — water and remove it from the sun as soon as possible. Monitor the dog and call your vet if symptoms don’t improve.

Never leave your pet in a parked car: Try wearing a wool coat and sitting in a hot car for 20 minutes. Even with the windows cracked, it’s a recipe for disaster. Cars can go from 85 to 100 degrees in a few minutes. Don’t take chances, especially with dogs that have short snouts like pugs.

Keep it light: While some dogs love to take long hikes, carrying those cute backpacks filled with water or other supplies, that’s not the best option during summer months. That’s especially true for dogs with dark fur because they absorb more of the sun’s rays.

Limit high-energy activities: You can still play fetch and Frisbee or hike through the woods together, but rising temperatures require shorter outings. Don’t push your pet beyond its limits. Remember, summertime is about having fun, not making emergency trips to the vet!

Cool gear for your pampered pooch

Travel water bottleTravel water bottle: We like to keep things simple, and Guardian Gear’s water bottle with a built-in bowl stores 17 ounces of refreshment. Keep one handy during family outings.

Crate fan: A few weeks ago, I spent time at a dog rescue fair. As I melted in the heat, I couldn’t help but admire the rescue groups that beat the heat with portable crate fans. Clip these ingenious fans onto any crate or kennel and two D batteries will keep the cool air flowing for about 100 hours. That may be the smartest investment of the summer.

Cool bandanna: Outward Hound offers a line of durable products for pets that truly embrace Mother Nature. Soak their Cool-It Bandanna in cold water for 15 to 30 minutes and it should provide hours of comfort to your pet. 

High-tech vest: If your pooch loves extreme Frisbee and other fun outdoor activities, the Swamp Cooler may be a worthwhile option. Like the cooling bandanna, soak this vest and it should make fetch a little more tolerable, especially for dark dogs that tend to soak up more of the sun’s rays.

Low-tech, but just as cool: Place ice in a zip-top plastic bag, flatten the bag and place it under your pug’s towel. Just keep an eye on the bag to make sure your dog doesn’t try to chew it.

— Morieka Johnson

Got a question? Submit a question to Mother Nature and one of our many experts will track down the answer. Plus: Visit our advice archives to see if your question has already been tackled.

Photo: djdau/Flickr; thumbnail photo: ZUMA Press; MNN homepage photo: slinscot/iStockphoto