Summer has arrived and our furry friends are definitely feeling the heat. Dogs do not have as many options as humans when it comes to cooling off on a hot day, so it is up to us to make sure they are safe and comfortable when temperatures rise.
Aside from obviously never leaving your dogs in the car on a hot day, here are thirteen ways you can help your pups beat the heat.
1. Know the signs of dehydration and heatstroke.
If your dog is experiencing any of the following, take them inside, cool them off with a fan or wet towels, and call your vet.
2. Make sure they have cool, clean, fresh water.
Before you head out for the day, make sure your dogs have at least two large water bowls with cool, fresh water. If you have multiple dogs, you may need more bowls; just make sure you have more than one option in case they knock one over or empty it before you get home. Make sure the bowls are in the shade, and you can add ice cubes to help keep them cooler longer.
3. Bring water and a water bowl everywhere you go.
If you are leaving home with your dogs, make sure to bring water and a water bowl with you. There are many portable options available, such as collapsible water bowls or water bottles with an attached receptacle for drinking. Offer your dogs water regularly while you are out.
4. Check the ground temperature before walking them.
If the dirt, sand, concrete or asphalt is too hot for you to walk on barefoot, it is too hot for your dogs to walk on as well. Wait until the sun goes down and the ground cools off or purchase protective booties to help keep their paws safe.
5. Make sure they have plenty of shade.
If your dogs need to be outside, make sure they have plenty of shaded options where they can lie down and cool off. If you do not have a covered patio or trees to do the trick, inexpensive shade sails are a great way to quickly add shade to your backyard or dog run. Also keep in mind that doghouses can get hot and stuffy on hot days, so while a doghouse is great for protecting your dogs from the rain and colder temperatures, they are not always the best shade options for your pups. You can also purchase a canopy for your dog’s bed to make sure their favorite spot to hang out is in the shade.
6. Keep them inside with fans or air conditioning.
If at all possible, keep your dogs inside during the hottest parts of the day. They will appreciate cooler temperatures and better air flow from fans, swamp coolers or air conditioning units just as much as you do. If you do not have central air conditioning, you can purchase one or more inexpensive fans and place them in areas where your dogs like to hang out.
If you are using fans to help keep your dogs (and you) cool, make sure they have grates with small openings to protect your dogs or other pets from the fan blades. You can also place a bowl of ice behind the fan to cool off the circulating air even more.
7. Offer them cooler places to lie down.
Save the fluffy dog beds for winter (or cooler summer nights) and opt for cots. Raised cots allow air to flow beneath the bed, which will help keep your dogs cooler in summer. Place the cot in the shade and, if possible, avoid placing it on concrete or asphalt. Some cots come with attached canopies to make sure your dogs can enjoy shade throughout the day.
8. Offer your dogs frozen treats.
Frozen treats made just for dogs are widely available at pet stores and can help your dogs cool off on hot days. If you don’t happen to have any store-bought, frozen treats on hand, you can also try offering them plain ice cubes or you can make frozen treats with broth and water or blended berries and plain yogurt.
9. Give them a wading pool or swimming pool.
Some dogs love splashing and playing in water, which makes this an easy way to help them cool off on a hot day. Depending on the size of your dogs, you could use something as small as a dishpan or something as large as a horse trough. Plastic kiddie pools do the job nicely as well. And, of course, there are plenty of products available online that are specifically sold as swimming pools for dogs. Some of these are even shaped like bones. Personally, I use an inexpensive, low-walled stock tank.
If you decide to help your dogs stay cool in summer with a swimming pool, remember that they should never be left unattended while swimming or playing in the water. Also, when it is time to empty the pool, grab a bucket and use the water to irrigate ornamental landscaping so that the water is not wasted.
10. Avoid strenuous activities in the afternoon.
Whenever possible, schedule your walks or play time earlier or later in the day when the temperature is cooler. If you have working dogs, make sure they have access to water and shade, and give them breaks throughout the day to let them cool off. If possible, schedule herding and other strenuous activities in the morning or evening.
11. Brush them often.
While it is tempting to shave dogs to help them stay cool in summer, with many breeds, it is actually best to leave their coat in place, which will help keep them cool and protect their skin from sunburn. However, you do want to groom them regularly to remove tangles and mats. If you are considering shaving your dog for summer, talk to our vet first to make sure it is the best way to help them stay cool in hot weather.
12. Offer them a wet towel, ice pack or jar of ice.
When I was younger, we used to put mason jars filled with ice in the rabbit pens so that they could wrap around them and keep cool on hot days. This also works for smaller dogs who might appreciate a jar of ice to wrap around or lie near to help them stay cool. Alternatively, you can fill a hot water bottle with ice and cool water or you can offer them an ice pack wrapped in a towel. If you don’t have any ice handy, wet a towel with cold water, wring out the excess and lay it in a shady spot where they like to hang out or on top of a raised cot for extra cooling.
As a side note here: If your dog is showing signs of heatstroke, do not use ice to cool them off. This can cool their body temperature too quickly and cause them to go into shock.
13. Expand their wardrobe.
You can help keep your dogs cool is summer with cooling bandanas or cooling vests. Using these options does not mean that you can hit the hiking trail in 100-degree weather, but they will help your furry friends stay cooler if they have to be outside on hot days.
While you are expanding their wardrobe, you might also look into a visor or sunglasses. These can also help keep your dogs comfortable in summer.
Side note: Dogs primarily cool themselves off through their respiratory system. If you have snub-nosed dogs, such as bulldogs, Shih Tzus and pugs, their smaller nasal passages make it more difficult for them to release heat through panting. You will need to be even more diligent to make sure your snub-nosed dogs are safe and comfortable on hot days.
AimeeJo Davis-Varela is a freelance writer specializing in real estate, sustainable home improvement, eco-friendly landscaping, green living and travel writing. She is also the owner of Mind Your Manors, which provides second home management services.
Gardening is good for the soul – as well as the body and the mind – but, while there is nothing quite like spending a Zen-like afternoon tending to your garden beds, spending too much time outdoors without the proper protection is not good for your skin.
Excessive sun exposure can cause sunburn, sun damage, wrinkles, and skin cancer, so, before you head outside to pull weeds, prune shrubs or tend to your herb garden, be sure to follow these seven tips to protect your skin from the sun.
1. Always wear sunscreen.
This one should go without saying, since you should be wearing sunscreen every time you step outside, but no list of skin protection tips would be complete without at least mentioning the importance of applying sunblock. This one task reduces your risk for sun damage, sunburns and skin cancer, so don’t forget the sunscreen before heading out to work in your garden.
2. Schedule your gardening tasks.
It is difficult to avoid the sun when living in Ojai, since there are few options for scheduling gardening tasks on cloudy or overcast days. However, you can limit your sun exposure at least a bit by completing outdoor chores in the morning or evening to avoid spending too much time outside in the middle of the day when the sun is directly overhead.
3. Wear lip balm with sunblock.
Apply lip balm with sunblock repeatedly while working outside to protect the thinner, more delicate skin on your lips from chapping, burning and sun damage.
4. Set up a shaded work area.
Set up your potting bench under a shade tree, inside a garden shed or beneath an umbrella to minimize sun exposure while tending to your container garden.
5. Wear sunglasses.
Grab your sunglasses as you head out the door to shield your eyes from UV rays and protect the delicate skin around your eyes.
6. Cover your hands and arms.
I know you don’t want to wear long sleeves or gloves when it is this darn hot outside, but wearing the appropriate clothing now can save you from sunburns, sun damage, wrinkles, or even skin cancer later. Look for lightweight, breathable fabrics that are designed to offer sun protection during outdoor activities. For gloves, choose a flexible but durable option to also provide protection against scrapes, cuts, blisters, and calluses.
7. Show off your garden fashion with a wide-brimmed hat.
Showing off your style with a wide-brimmed hat helps protect your face, ears, scalp, neck, upper arms, and chest from the sun, so don’t forget yours when you head outside to tend to your garden.
5 Ways to Save Water When It Rains
1. Set out your houseplants.
Plants prefer rainwater to tap water, so they are sure to thank you if you set them outside during gentle rainfall. Anything too heavy can damage the plant, so only set your plants outside if light to medium rain is expected. If you have plants on a covered patio that are not too heavy to move, you can also set them out in the open to enjoy the rain.
2. Turn off automatic irrigation systems.
If you do not have a rain sensor that automatically turns off your irrigation system when it rains, make sure to turn it off manually when rain is expected.
3. Fill water bowls with the rain.
Take your pet’s water bowls from in the house or on covered patios and set them outside to fill them with rainwater. Keep in mind that contaminated rainwater can make your pets sick (or worse), so make sure the bowls are in an area where they will collect pure rainwater falling from the sky. Keep the bowls away from areas where they may collect runoff from your roof or other structures.
4. Collect water in buckets.
While runoff from your roof or canopies is not potable and should not be used for drinking or to irrigate food plants, it can be used for other purposes, such as rinsing recyclables or watering ornamental landscaping. So, if you do not have rain barrels or have some corners where gutters do not divert the water, set out buckets to capture the water in these areas. You can also set out buckets away from structures to capture pure rainwater to irrigate food plants.
5. Do your planting just before it rains.
Any time you plant seeds or transplant plants in your garden, they need a good watering. So, one easy way to save water when it rains is to hold off on your planting until the forecast calls for rain. This is a good time to reseed patchy lawns, plant new flowers or seeds, or transplant plants from your container garden into borders or garden beds. Just be sure that we are not expecting heavy rain, since this might wash your seeds away.
Find more ways to converse water;
10 Ways to Use Water from Rain Barrels
11 Ways to Save Water in Winter
10 Easy Ways to Save Water
Join us Saturday, September 9 for the First Annual Homes for Dogs Project adoption event hosted at Coldwell Banker Property Shoppe in Ojai!
Date: Saturday, September 9
Time: 11:00am to 3:00pm
Location: 727 W. Ojai Avenue in Ojai
There will be food, micro chipping, grooming, pet merchandise available for purchase and, of course, the chance to adopt a dog.
You just might find your new best friend!
We hope to see you there!
In most cases, hosting outdoor parties in Ojai in winter is not much different than entertaining outdoors in summer. It may be a little colder and it certainly gets dark earlier but, aside from that, we are fortunate to live in a temperate, near-coastal community that allows us to enjoy outdoor living any time of the year.
However, Ojai’s amazing weather may decide not to cooperate that day and it might be a bit too cold for comfort -- or it might even rain (let’s hope!). Fortunately, you do not have to let a little inclement weather get in your way and, with the proper party preparations, your winter shindig is sure to go off without a hitch.
To help ensure that your outdoor Christmas dinner or Chanukah party is a fun, memorable event, here are 10 tips to help you keep your guests comfortable and filled with holiday cheer.
10 Tips for Hosting Outdoor Holiday Parties in Ojai
1. Create a kids’ area.
Whether you are hosting your party indoors or outdoors, if the invitations say it is an all-ages gathering, you are sure to have at least a few children there. This is particularly true if you are hosting this year’s family dinner. When there are gifts and games involved, it is definitely more fun to have the kids involved, but you will also want to be prepared to keep them entertained when the adults need a break or are partaking in other activities.
Some easy ideas include setting up a temporary movie theater on your patio where you can show holiday movies, creating a kids’ space with a craft table or cookie decorating table, putting together a holiday scavenger hunt or putting one of the older kids in charge of games with fun prizes.
2. Set up a self-serve drink station.
If you are hosting more than a few family members or close friends, you could find yourself running inside to the kitchen to refill drinks throughout the night. To make your hosting duties a bit less stressful and make sure your guests are well hydrated, set up a centrally located self-serve drink station. Keep in mind that if you are serving alcohol and have children in attendance, you should set up two drink stations to keep alcoholic beverages out of little hands.
Since it will likely be a bit chilly outside, be sure to include at least one or two warm beverage options, such as coffee, spiced cider, hot chocolate or tea.
3. Determine how you will keep your guests warm.
Patio heaters, outdoor fireplaces, fire pits or chimeneas are all great options that can create a welcoming, wintery environment while helping ward off the cold. If you have a fire feature as part of your outdoor living area, be sure it is clean, in good repair and well stocked with the appropriate fuel. If you have propane-fueled patio heaters, be sure to have extra propane tanks on hand.
If you do not have any of these options already on hand, you can purchase an inexpensive, portable fire pit at Home Depot or Lowes, buy patio heaters at either of these stores, or rent patio heaters just for your party.
If you will not have too many guests in attendance, another fun idea is to pass out cozy slippers and throw blankets as party favors.
4. Be prepared for rain.
We don’t have that many rainy days in Ojai, but the holidays do happen right in the middle of our rainy season. You may not know the weather report when you pick the day for your party, so it is possible that this could mean some much-needed rain might coincide with your holiday gathering.
If you have a covered patio, you might be okay, but if you are expecting a lot of guests, you may need to consider purchasing or renting a canopy or tent to expand your covered entertaining space. If this is your plan, look for one with curtains, since this will allow you to close one or more sides to help keep your guests warm and dry.
5. Have a back-up plan.
Your heart may be set on an outdoor Christmas, but Mother Nature may have other ideas. Just in case the weather really does not cooperate and it is simply too cold or rainy for your guests to comfortably congregate outdoors, make sure you have a back-up plan. The easiest option for most folks is going to be having an indoor room ready to go in case you need to move the party inside.
If possible, pick a room that is adjacent to the outdoor area you plan to use. That way, it will be easy for guests to move between the spaces. It will also make your hosting duties a bit easier if your guests are not spread all over the house.
6. Create a festive, cold-weather menu.
If you are hosting a family holiday meal, tradition may dictate most of the menu. However, there is probably at least a little wiggle room for adding something fun and festive to the feast. And, of course, if it is just a party celebrating the season, you are free to plan a menu that compliments your theme.
When entertaining outdoors in colder weather, comfort foods and hot beverages are always a safe bet, which means fondue, chili, warm desserts, hot apple cider or Irish coffees all work for winter menus.
7. Consider extra lighting.
Depending on the time of day you choose, it may be dark before your guests even arrive. This calls for extra lighting to guide the way and create a festive ambiance. Most any lighting will do, but the holidays give you a great excuse to go a little crazy with the string lights.
If you are considering solar path lights to illuminate walkways, be sure to put them in place at least a few days in advance to make sure they all work and have plenty of time to get a good charge.
8. Stock your gift closet with a few extras.
If your gathering will include a white elephant gift exchange or friends and family exchanging gifts, your hosting duties include keeping a few extra gifts on hand. This ensures that everyone will have something to unwrap – just in case unexpected guests arrive or someone forgets their white elephant gift at home.
You can pick up a few last-minute gifts at any of the boutiques in downtown Ojai.
9. Determine how to handle gift wrapping materials.
Another consideration for parties with gift exchanges is how to manage the inevitable piles of wrapping paper, ribbons, gift bags and tissue paper. Have receptacles ready to receive trash, recycling and reusable wrapping materials and make sure they are clearly marked to make your job easier.
10. Make it memorable.
Make your holiday celebration all the more special by adding an element that makes it more memorable. This could be something as simple as having an ugly sweater theme or handing out the perfect party favors. Or it can be a bit more involved, such as inviting your guests to create seasonal crafts to take home with them, playing festive party games, or helping a good cause by collecting donations of toys or food.
AimeeJo Davis-Varela is the marketing director for The Davis Group and a freelance writer specializing in real estate, sustainable home improvement, eco-friendly landscaping, green living and travel writing.
The Topa Topa Mountain Folk Fest takes place Saturday, October 1st at Libbey Bowl in downtown Ojai. Gates open at 11:00am for this day-long festival featuring folk, American, country and roots music, so you have plenty of time to enjoy coffee or breakfast downtown before heading to the festival.
This first annual folk fest benefits the Turning Point Foundation, which offers services to adults with mental illness.
Here are just a few of the bands playing at the festival:
For more information, or to buy tickets, head over to the festival website.
If you are interested in helping out at the event, volunteer information is also available on the website.
Topa Topa Mountain Folk Fest Information
Date: October 1, 2016
Time: Gates open at 11:00
Location: Libbey Bowl (Libbey Park in downtown Ojai)
Admission: $14.95 for lawn seating (sold out) or $20 - $75 for reserved seating (plus $6 facility fee)
Bowlful of Blues is back at Libbey Bowl!
On Saturday, September 17 from 3:00 to 9:00pm downtown Ojai will be filled with blues fans for the return of Bowlful of Blues after an 11-year hiatus.
There will be musicians (of course!), a bar, food vendors and more -- all taking place in the heart of Ojai at Libbey Park.
Here's what you need to know:
Date: Saturday, September 17
Time: 3:00 to 9:00pm
Doors Open: 2:00pm (with local musicians playing acoustic blues)
Tickets: $40 in advance or $45 at the door for general admission
$15 for children between the ages of seven and 15 (six and under - free)
$100 for the VIP Package
(The VIP Package includes preferred seating, reserved parking, private bathroom, snacks and beverages backstage, premium bar and artist access.)
Visit the festival website for a schedule, artist list, vendor list and more.
This year's Tomato Festival & Wine Tasting will take place from 4:30 to 8:30pm on Saturday, September 17 at Boccali's Ojai.
There will be an all-you-can eat buffet celebrating the summer harvest, a farm fresh produce stand, live music from Blue Latitude, door prizes and wine tasting.
Here are the details:
Date: Saturday, September 17
Time: 4:30 to 8:30pm
Location: Boccali's -- 3277 East Ojai Avenue
Tickets are on sale now at both Boccali's locations, or you can visit their website to print out a form to order your tickets by mail.
Wine tasting tickets will sold separately at the door for $10.
Frog Creek Farm is a seven-acre lavender farm in Upper Ojai located off Highway 150 and Sulphur Mountain Road. During the months of June and July, they are open to the public, for you-pick lavender gathering and great photo opportunities.
Visit their Facebook page or call (805) 921-0027 for more information.
Among the great things about living in Ojai are the abundance of community events and the opportunities to support local businesses, artisans and farmers.
The Ojai Certified Farmers' Market brings these two things together every Sunday, allowing Ojai residents and visitors to meet local vendors and stock their kitchens with local produce, breads, olive oil, handmade soaps and much more.
The Ojai Farmers' Market takes place between 9am and 1pm every Sunday (rain or shine) behind the Arcade in downtown Ojai.
For more information about the farmers' market, visit the Ojai Certified Farmers' Market website.
To find out which produce is in season, click here.
And if you would like to find out more about the local farmers you will see at the market, click here.
Do you dream about living on a producing citrus ranch and becoming one of the local farmers who set up shop at the farmers' market each weekend?
If so, check out these Ojai citrus ranches for sale:
40-Acre Citrus Ranch in Ojai's East End
33-Acre Citrus Ranch in Ojai's East End
Contact Nora to learn more about Ojai ranches for sale and other Ojai properties.
The Davis Group
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