Keeping Your Dog Cool in the Heat July 25 2007
COMMON SENSE PRACTICALITIES FOR KEEPING YOUR DOG COOL AND SAFE IN THE HEAT OF SUMMER *
Always provide plenty of fresh, cool water. You may want to place extra water bowls around the house and ALWAYS bring fresh water with you on walks.
* Limit exercise to early morning and/or late evenings when it's coolest.
* Provide a well ventilated, or preferably, air-conditioned area (with access to cool, fresh water), especially during the hottest parts of the day - generally between 10am-4pm.
* If your dog is going to be out in the yard, make sure they have access to a shady place with fresh, cool water, and supervise them to make sure they are not overheating. Be sure to keep the water fresh and replace as necessary. (Symptoms of heat stroke can be found at the end of this article). But of course we want to monitor them so they never get to that point! Avoid excessive exercise on very hot days.
* NEVER leave your dog in the car, even with the windows open. The temperature in your car can climb as high as 120 degrees F very quickly. If you're running errands, no matter how cute that 'take me with you' look is, do your dog a favor and leave them in the comfort of their own home!
* Many people don't realize that dog's can get a sunburn too. Keep your dog in the shade outside but if you must walk under the sun you can apply sun block to their most vulnerable areas - the tips of their ears and the top of their nose. (You don't want to use it where they can lick it up).
* Even dogs that are excellent swimmers can run into trouble in a pool. Especially if they overdo it and begin to get heat exhaustion, they can get confused and be unable to find their way out. Be sure to supervise a dog in the pool. If you have a pool and are not always able to supervise your dog in the yard, security gates around your pool are a good idea.
* Be careful on asphalt. Please take care and pay attention to your dog while walking on asphalt. If they're picking up their paws a lot, the ground is probably too hot - this can especially happen when standing still while waiting for a light to change or chatting with a friend you may have run into. If this happens, it's time to take them inside. Another reason to take your longer walks in the cooler hours of the day.
Some practical strategies for beating the heat AHEAD OF TIME
Wet and cool a few bandanas and put in freezer. Put in several so you'll have one ready for every walk. Keep a stash of ice cubes in the freezer. Plan ahead - put a bowl in there with extras.
TIME TO GO OUT Take one of those bandanas out of the freezer. It'll be a little hard so you will need to run it under water, just enough to soften it for folding. Fold it into a triangle. Lay a row of ice cubes across the long way from corner to corner with spaces between them. Roll your bandana up so it's a couple of inches wide. Tie loosely around your dog's neck. The cold bandana with the extra ice cubes in there will help keep you pup cool for your walk. There are also products out on the market, like the Outward Hound Cool-It Bandana and cooling vests that may be more practical for those longer walks. I think Ruffwear has one now too (we LOVE Ruffwear)!
BELLIES AND PAWS The best places to wet your dog to cool them off are the paws and the belly. Dog's have sweat glands on their paws, so wetting their paws will help cool them off.
BEATING THE HEAT IN THE CITY - IMPROVISATION IS THE NAME OF THE GAME We are in Manhattan, the concrete jungle. The asphalt gets pretty hot and reflects the heat right back up at you in the humid and sweltering days of summer. What's a puppy girl to do?! Mission: Cool the dog so she can spend more than 5 minutes outside, and have a little outdoor fun too. Go to the East River to swim?? I don't think so, muck and yuck and too far to walk to. Sneak her into a 'no dogs allowed' children's playground to run under the sprinklers. Umm, no, too many kids running around, and besides, it's so un-couth for a girlie girl or even your manly man. There are a couple of dog runs in town with kiddie pools but they're all too far to walk to in this heat. How about a doggie pool? Yes! Well, yes, a good idea, but..... a solid plastic one would be nice but we do live in the city after all and storage space is scarce. A vinyl inflatable pool makes so much more sense. Yes, we know - doggie nails and vinyl - we'll get to that later. But where to find an inflatable pool in the city?? After checking out all the local yokels with no luck - ooooo, K-Mart in the east village - yes - of course they will have one! I won't even bother calling. Trudge up 20 blocks in the heat - sigh, no pools at K-Mart smaller than 40 feet! Okay, let's 'think'. We are New Yorker's after all. We don't ever give up. We find a way. Ah, they have an inflatable raft - looks like my 65lb. dog could actually fit in it and lie down - hmm, a raft, umm YES, A RAFT! That'll work! $7! Oars sold separately - I think we'll pass on those. Woo-hoo! Yippie, who can beat that?! DAY ONE with doggie pool worked out marvelously! Local storeowner provides water - even insists on dragging pails of cool water back and forth for us up and down his steps, and provides the outdoor space in front of his store, even moves his clothing racks he has out there. What a guy! Even though my girl has very short nails, she loves to play in the water and 'dig'! After returning home, raft inspection reveals several holes. No problem - should have thought of this earlier but we were so excited to have our 'pool' and go out and play. Off to the hardware store, some bicycle repair kits and gaffer's tape will do. Step 1: Repair holes and reinforce with double coverage. Step 2: Several layers of gaffer's tape lining both the bottom of our 'pool' and on the underside, just in case it gets dragged along the concrete. VOILA! Worked like a charm! Subsequent pool sessions reveal zero damage to the vessel!
Now that we're super cooled off - yes I said 'WE', I got wet too, but hey it was 95 degrees out that day, it felt great - we can take an actual walk! WE HOPE THESE TIPS ARE HELPFUL TO YOU. HAVE FUN WITH YOUR DOG THIS SUMMER BUT STAY COOL AND TAKE SPECIAL PRECAUTIONS IN THE HEAT.
RECOGNIZING THE SIGNS OF HEAT EXHAUSTION AND HEAT STROKE EARLY SYMPTOMS OF HEAT EXHAUSTION: Heavy panting Hyperventilation Increased salivation Dry, tacky gums
PROGRESSION OF HEAT EXHAUSTION: Weakness Confusion Disorientation Walking in strange patterns Gasping for air Inattention Vomiting Diarrhea SYMPTOMS OF HEAT STROKE: Pale or graying gums More shallow breathing Slow or absent breathing Vomiting blood Bloody diarrhea Seizures Coma Temperature above 105 degrees Fahrenheit is dangerous HEAT STROKE IS A MEDICAL EMERGENCY AND REQUIRES IMMEDIATE VETERINARIAN INTERVENTION