Is your pet suffering from summer boredom? Is it too hot to safely exercise your dog outside? 

Good news! The Summer Pet Games, sponsored by Alpine Animal Hospital and hosted in your own home, are about to start. They will bust your pet’s boredom, and keep them cool, safe, and satisfied this summer. The following competitions will be offered for dogs and cats of all energy levels and athletic abilities. Remembersupervise your pet at all times.

#1: Pet search and sniff games

If your pet sniffs out every crumb in your jacket pocket, and finds every ancient French fry on your car’s floorboards, this category will be a winner. Engaging your pet’s sense of smell and their searching skills is mentally stimulating for dogs and cats, meaning that after the games are through, your pet will take a long victory nap.

  • Snuffle mat shuffle Snuffle mats are affordable, versatile, enrichment toys. They are simple to make or purchase from many online sellers. Snuffle mats require your pet, including cats, to sniff and forage for hidden treats under and between knotted strips of fleece attached to a mat. However, If your pet likes to eat fabric or begins to chew on the mat, select another game.
    • Bronze level Scatter the pet food or a few treats on the surface, and lightly shake the mat. Don’t put the treats too deep, because your pet should “win” the game 
    • Silver level Place each piece of food by hand, deep into the mat, so they must work harder.
    • Gold level For superior snufflers and problem-solvers, place the loaded snuffle mat under a towel, blanket, or upturned laundry basket. 
  • Cardboard-box cookie hunt Grab all of those cardboard delivery boxessmall ones work best to start withand line them up in a row, open, with a few food pieces inside. Let your pet search for the tasty treats.
    • Silver level With your pet out of sight, place the food randomly in the boxes, leaving some empty to make the search more challenging.
    • Gold level Hide loaded and unloaded boxes in the room so your pet must search for the box and the food.

#2: Pet (de)construction zone

For pets who like to rip and shred, this game is a blast. Be prepared, because you will need to clean up after the athlete has left the arena.

  • Destruction boxes Supplies include a cardboard box, unbleached paper towel or toilet paper rolls, and some packing paper or shredded paper. Show your pet how to get the treats at each level to build confidence.
    • Bronze level Fold in the ends of a toilet paper roll after placing a treat inside and present the roll to your pet. 
    • Silver level Once your dog can find the treats easily, add crumpled paper inside the roll to maximize the challenge.
    • Gold level Get creative! Hide treats in crumpled paper balls, stuff the paper balls in the ends of the tube rather than fold them, and put it all in a box.

#3: The Pup-sicle eating contest

This game involves pet-friendly frozen delights for indoor or outdoor dining.

  • Mix low-fat Greek yogurt with fresh blueberries or bananas, and freeze in ice cube trays or popsicle molds.
  • Freeze chunks of seedless watermelon.
  • Fill Kong toys or other stuffable rubber shapes with moist or dry pet food, freeze, and serve. See how fast they eat!
    • Gold level It’s all gold!

#4: The placeholder challenge

Finally, a game for every skill level and physical ability, or for pets who don’t like to compete, or exercise. The placeholder challenge requires the pet contestant to keep cool and comfortable, while the judge times how long they can lounge in a single position. Equipment may include:

  • Cooling mats Gel- and water-filled, puncture-resistant pet mats are particularly refreshing primed with cold water, or kept in the freezer, before setting out for your pet.
  • Elevated cots Allow air to circulate around and under the pet for complete cooling.
    • Level — How could lounging on a cool bed be anything but gold?

This is not a game: Heat stroke

The Pet Summer Games will keep you and your pets so busy that you will have no need to seek outdoor entertainment. However, if you do venture out, know the warning signs of heat exhaustion and heatstroke in pets:

  • Heavy panting
  • Restlessness
  • Red gums
  • Fast heart rate 
  • Lack of coordination
  • Behavior changes
  • Collapse

If your pet shows any of these signs, bring them immediately indoors, and wet them down with cool water. Call Alpine Animal Hospital so we can advise you on next steps until you can transport your pet to our hospital. Heat-related illnesses are serious for pets, and can be fatal if they progress to heatstroke. 

If your pet can’t resist the summer sun, ensure they have plenty of shade and cool water while spending supervised time outside, and limit outdoor activities to the cooler morning and evening hours. 

Every pet can be a medalist this summer by competing in our cool Pet Olympics. For more ideas on helping pets beat the heat, or if your pet does overheat, contact the team at Alpine Animal Hospital.