ALEXANDRIA,VA–Summer is fun for humans and dogs alike, but a few commonsense suggestions could make your and your dog’s summer happier. Some dogs are sensitive to summer heat, regardless of breed or amount of fur. On really hot days, shorter walks and inside activities that provide good mental stimulation can keep your dog both safe and happy.
Here are some tips to keep in mind as the dog days of summer approach:
1. The five-second rule: Place the back of your hand on the pavement. If you cannot hold it there for five seconds, it’s too hot to walk your dog.
2. Don’t walk or exercise your dog in the middle of the day. Go early in the morning and after the sun sets. Asphalt streets and concrete sidewalks can become very hot and hurt the dog’s foot pads.
3. Mental stimulation is as important as physical exercise for your dog. Ten minutes of mental training exercises are equal to a half-hour walk. You and your dog can play many training games, including nose games, hide-and-seek recall games, and impulse control exercises, safely and effectively inside your home and still tire out your pup.
4. Never leave your dog tied outside unattended in summer. If your dog spends time in a crate, make sure it is in an air-conditioned environment or is cooled by a fan.
5. Take your dog swimming rather than running.
6. Buy a kiddie pool for the yard, fill it with water, and put your dog’s favorite toys in it. Teach your dog to play in the sprinkler or hose.
7. Try not to take your dog directly from cool AC into intense heat. He could collapse from such an abrupt temperature change.
8. Less hair does not make a dog cooler, so don’t shave your dog down to the skin unless you would do that normally with that breed (like a cocker or a poodle). Nature has designed it so that dogs with a lot of fur (Goldens, Huskies, Akitas) channel air through hair to the skin to help cool them.
9. Keep your dog’s coat in good condition by brushing him regularly to remove dead hair trapped in his coat. If it is not removed, it will prevent air from reaching, and cooling, his skin.
10. Inside the house, make sure your pet always has access to fresh, clean water and when going outside, bring a bottle of H2O for him just like you do for yourself. Our dogs get much thirstier than we do when they get hot, and both cats and dogs can quickly become dehydrated without sufficient water. Signs of dehydration include dry gums and excessive drooling. In general, if you and your dog are outside in the heat, provide ample water and seek cooling shade during the outing.
11. Know the signs that your pet is overheating: excessive panting or difficult breathing, increased heart and respiratory rate, drooling, mild weakness, stupor, or even collapse. An body temperature above 104 degrees can cause seizures, bloody diarrhea, and vomit.
Bonus Tip: Keep your pets away from fireworks. Summer is the perfect time for barbecues, picnics, and outdoor celebrations such as the 4th of July. While we all enjoy a big, bright bada boom, fireworks scare our pets, frequently causing them to run away or become disoriented. During the fireworks display, keep them away from exterior doors in an escape-free room, use white noise or soft music to mask the noise of fireworks, and try a ThunderShirt, a vest-like device that applies gentle, constant pressure similar to swaddling an infant and successfully calms many dogs. Finally, speak with your veterinarian about medical options to help keep your dog calm during the celebrations.
Wholistic Hound Academy wishes all of our clients, friends and all the furry family pets a wonderful, safe, happy, and healthy summer!
Sandy Modell, CPDT-KA, is the Founder and CEO of Wholistic Hound Academy, Alexandria’s award winning, premier canine training and learning center — offering classes and private lessons in puppy training and socialization, adult dog manners, behavior modification, agility, dog sports, canine fitness and conditioning, kids and dogs, pre-pet planning and pet selection. Classes starting soon!