I don’t know about everyone else, but it’s getting hot down here in the American Southwest. Technically, summer doesn’t hit until the solstice on June 20, but temperatures are already reaching the high 90s here (that’s 35+ for you Celsius folks).

Living in the desert, I employ various tactics to keep my dogs cool while getting them the exercise they need in the summer. Here are some tips to keep your hopefully not-so-hot dogs cool during summer months.

Opt for Morning Walks

Morning is the coolest time of the day. If you can drag yourself out of bed, do your dog a favor and walk them before work. Another big advantage of the morning walk is that the sidewalks have not been baking in the sun all day and should be cooler on your dog’s paw pads.

Try Sunset and After Dark Walks

If you’re not a morning person, fear not. I tend toward sunset and after dark walks. While a bit warmer than morning walks, hopefully the mercury has fallen enough for a pleasant walk with Fido. If you are walking your dog after dark, make sure to invest in a lighting system or reflective vest to keep everyone safe. Read some of my after-dark dog tips here.

Invest in Swamp Cooler Vests

Swamp cooler vests may be my favorite dog accessory ever. They work just like a home swamp cooler by using evaporative cooling to keep your dog comfy. Just soak the vest in cold water, put it on your pup and go on a walk. Swamp cooling vests have limitations based on humidity and temperature. Learn more about swamp cooler vests here.

Travel with a Water Bottle

There are a variety of different Fido-friendly travel water bottles on the market. I use the Gulpy water dispenser.

Pick a Shady Route

Walking in full sun will make you feel 10-15 degrees hotter, so opt for a shady route. The cement in shaded areas should also feel cooler on your dog’s paw pads.

Pick a Route with More Grass than Cement

Another way to stay cooler is to walk on grass instead of cement because grassy surfaces tend to stay cooler. This might mean picking a route with lots of parks or simply staying in the park altogether.

Protect the Pads

It’s easy to forget about protecting your dog’s paw pads from the elements, but cement can get extremely hot in the summer. Avoid midday walks if possible. You may also opt to get your dog some pup sneakers or apply a protectant like Musher’s Secret.

Watch Your Dog’s Body Language

If your dog insists on stopping to rest or does not look well, do not force her to continue! Most dogs want to please their owners, so when they start showing obvious signs of heat exhaustion or general fatigue, listen to them. Here’s what you need to know about canine heat stroke.

Alternative Activity: Take Your Dog Swimming

If you have a dog who likes water, why not just take them to a local water source for some swim play? If you don’t have a local water source, you can buy a kiddie pool for your yard or run the sprinkler!