This will surely be one of the most important posts I write all summer.
Other than our children, there are few living creatures we love as much as our dogs...we buy them, treats, special food, plush beds and even wardrobes!
But, there is an area that is rife with misinformation, and that is; how to keep your dog happy and healthy during the hot weather months.
I am lucky enough to have adopted an amazing pit bull pup last summer — who has grown into the beautiful dog pictured above. Having not raised a pup in decades, I immediately enlisted the help of top-notch Arizona trainers, vets and behaviorists. Not only are they professionals in their field, but very keen on hot-weater precautions and prevention. I promptly discovered that much of the training and care information I carried was dated.
One of the trickiest things about our canine companions is that they have innate love and devotion built it without a very good gauge for their limitations. Most of them will do ANYTHING to please us. They’ll hike with us til their heart bursts, chase a ball till their legs buckle, and will generally push the bounds of what is healthy for them, if it’s something we want to do....and they can look happy even when they are suffering.
We don’t know, what we don’t know…so please check out your knowledge and give your faithful canine friend the best summer evah!
1. MYTH: Dog’s feet are tough and don’t burn on hot pavement.
FACT: Dog’s feet BURN. Hold your bare hand or foot on all walking surfaces (pavement, sand, dirt as well as asphalt) for 5 seconds. If it’s too hot to hold your skin there, you will hurt your beloved pet if you force them to stand or walk on it. Their pads could burn and even blister.
TIP: Start checking surfaces around an 80 degree air temperature, as the ground gets surprisingly hot even when the air is comfortable.
2. MYTH: Booties are a great solution when walking on hot surfaces.
FACT: Dogs cool themselves through the in between of their pads and their tongue. If you put booties on them, you shut down more than half of their ability to cool themselves. Don’t do it! Either carry your pooch from point A to B, or leave them home where it is cool.
TIP: Be sure to keep their paws conditioned. Even when walking on surfaces that are not over-hot their paws can dry and crack. I use and love Musher’s Secret Pet Paw Protector Wax. This product does not keep their paws from burning on hot surface, but is amazing for keeping them conditioned. I swear by it! Can be used to soothe scrapes, abrasions and too soften noses that have become dry and irritated.
3. MYTH: Dogs can cool themselves through their mouths no matter what the temperature.
FACT: A dogs internal temperature ranges from 99 degrees to 101.5 degrees. If the external temperature is greater than their internal temperature, panting no longer serves as a cooling device. If, for example, you leave your dog outside in the shade (which in Arizona where I live gets HOT) or even take them for a run on the grass when it’s 99 degrees outside, depending on your canine’s temperature, they will not only suffer, but could develop serious problems, and in some cases even death.
4. MYTH: Cutting my pooches hair short will keep them cool.
FACT: This varies from pet to pet depending on coat length. But, it is important to know that dog’s fur serves as an insulation from the sun and heat….as well as the cold. So, to give a sheepdog a cute puppy cut, may actually cause them to burn and overheat, if it’s cut too short.
TIP: Applying a good sunblock — is always a good idea, especially on their nose and ears and doubly so if they are a short-haired breed. I like to cover my dog’s face when spraying on his body, and then spraying in my hand, to apply to his nose, ears and face.
5. MYTH: Spraying my dog with water will keep them cool.
FACT: A dog’s skin is like a wetsuit. They do not have pores or experience evaporative cooling like we do. If the water you spray on them is cold, they will feel the coolness initially. But, since they don’t feel evaporative coolness, in a few moments or minutes it will feel like a wet blanket to them.
TIP: While extended daytime exposure should be avoided, summer swims are a super summer exercise alternative...and, fun for all!
6. MYTH: It’s okay to leave my dog in the car if I provide water, park in the shade and/or leave the window open.
FACT: The temperature of a car interior can easily hit 15–30 degrees hotter than the outdoor summer temperature in a matter of minutes. YES…even with the windows open! Don’t risk it!
TIP: Leave your furry friend home where it’s cool unless you can take them inside with you WITHOUT walking across a hot parking lot.
I really hope this has helped bust a few myths, and contributes to the happiness and comfort of dogs all over:)
We’re all learning together. Now…it’s up to you to be their advocate and make sure that they are happy, healthy and cared for!
I hope you’ll comment and share your experiences or any clever ideas below for all to learn from. And, above all, share this article with any and all dog owners and animal lovers you know.
Let’s get the word out! My easy share links are below.
Wishing you an amazing summer, and as always, I’m in your corner…
(content reformatted 6.27.12)
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