We are all delighted with the current change in the weather. It is warm, sunny and it is not raining, which makes a change for us here in Ireland. But how do this change in the weather affect our dogs and what do we need to do to keep your dog safe. Of cause common sense will guide us, but as we are not always aware of certain situation during which the heat may affect our four legged friends I am going to share some scenarios to avoid and also give you some pointers on how to make it easier for them to cope. Lets keep your dog safe.
The most obvious and most talked about precaution is not to leave your dog in a car, not even for a minute. Did you know that the temperature in the car, even with a window open, can rise to 37⁰C while the outside temperature is only 23⁰C, and this in less than 10 minutes. Dogs do not have great physiological ways to combat heat, they simply cannot regulate their body temperature in the same way humans do. In short, it is a total no-no to leave your beloved pet in the car while you quickly run into the shop to pick up a pint of milk or some water because you are hot and need some hydration. Follow this link (PDF) to a very informative flyer on the subject.
We all know that exercise is very important for our dogs, however we need to adjust what we do in warm weather. As I mentioned before, dogs do not have the ability to regulate their body temperature in the same way as we do, so if you feel hot when you are out and about give a minutes thought to how your dog must feel. What then to do; change the time of exercise to early morning and/or late afternoons/evenings when it is generally cooler and the heat subsides a bit. Other measures include taking enough water while you are out with your dog and do not have marathon walks. Something to be very cognisance about is that the tarmac gets very, very hot. Have you ever noticed how it actually start melting on very hot days? As a guide I always say, take your shoes off and if it burns on the road/pedestrian walkway then it is too hot for your dog to walk on. Instead of walking on the road why not consider walking in a wooded area where there are trees and grass, providing shade and a cool surface to walk on. Keeping your dog safe
What about kennels or runs? If your dog’s kennel or run is on a cement base then keep the above in mind. It is really important that there is at least part of the base where there is some insulation between the cement and the dog’s feet. The type of kennel also needs to be taken into consideration, plastic kennels can get extremely hot in the sun, and even good wooden, insulated, kennels can get uncomfortable and should have enough ventilation. If you have to leave your dog in his/her kennel, run or in the house for an extended period of time make sure that there is ample water, enough for the whole time you are away. I err on the side of caution and always put and extra bowl down. So important to keep your dog safe, and hydrated.
What else can you do to alleviate the impact of the heat? Why not prepare some ice-pops. I normally make my dog’s ice-pops, well actually it is ice-blocks,by using a low or no salt stock as the base of the ice-pop (it is best if you can use homemade stock). I then put their food and one or two nice surprises into the fluid, pour the mixture into a container (with a lid), put it in the freezer and wait until it is frozen solid and then give it to my dogs, they LOVE it. This actually is a great way not just to cool them down, but also to tick the box on food/environmental enrichment. Something else I use is to let them “go fish”. I fill a small kiddies paddle pool/sand box with water and throw their food into the water and they are ready to “go fish”. There is a short clip of my dogs going fishing. (See above)
When looking after your dog in the summer, first and foremost apply common sense, make sure you know about heatstroke, how to identify it and the steps to take when the signs present itself. For more on this topic follow the above link to a flyer published by the Humans Society of the USA. Remember, keep your dog safe.
Keep your eye out for postings on Facebook on the subject. Mostly you will get good information from these postings, but as always keep an eye on the credentials of the person/company posting on the topic.
Lastly, remember to look after yourself, prevent sunburn as it is a very big contributor to skin cancer and keep yourself hydrated by drinking enough water.