By Sandy Modell
Alexandria, VA – Summer is here! And this is the season that can be fun for dogs and humans alike!
Dogs are particularly sensitive to heat, regardless of breed or amount of fur. On really hot days, shorter walks and inside activities that provide good mental stimulation can also keep your dog safe and happy.
Here are some common-sense 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 sunset. Asphalt streets and concrete sidewalks can become very hot and hurt the dog’s footpads.
3. Mental stimulation is as important as physical exercise for your dog. A ten-minute training session is equal to a half-hour walk. There are many fun games, including scent games, hide-and-seek recall games, and impulse control exercises that you and your dog can do very 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 with a fan.
5. Take your dog swimming rather than running.
6. Buy a kiddie pool for your yard, fill it with water, and put your dog’s favorite ball or floating toy in it. Or, cool your dog off in the sprinkler.
7. Try not to take your dog directly from cool AC into intense heat—abrupt temperature changes can cause a dog to collapse.
8. Don’t shave your dog down to the skin unless you would do that normally with the breed (like a cocker or a poodle). Less hair does not make the dog cooler. Nature has designed it so that dogs with a lot of fur (Goldens, Huskys, 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 and removing trapped dead hair (which, if not removed, will prevent air from reaching his skin).
10. Inside the house, make sure your pet always has access to fresh, clean water and bring a bottle of H2O for him when going outside, just like you do for yourself. Our dogs get much thirstier than we do when they get hot. 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 symptoms of pet overheating, including excessive panting or difficulty breathing, increased heart and respiratory rate, drooling, mild weakness, stupor, or even collapse. A body temperature over 104 degrees can cause seizures, bloody diarrhea, and vomit.
12. And, of course, never leave your dog in your car during the summer. Cars can reach 120 degrees in a matter of minutes on a hot day. Not enough cool air can circulate in the car from leaving the windows cracked, and that will put your pup at serious risk for heatstroke.
Bonus Tip: Keep your pets home during firework displays. Summer is the perfect time for barbecues, picnics, and outdoor celebrations like the 4th of July. While we all enjoy a big bada boom, fireworks scare our pets, frequently causing them to runaway or become disoriented. During the display, keep them away from exterior doors and in an escape-free room, use white noise or soft music to mask the fireworks, and try a thundershirt. Finally, speak with your veterinarian who can provide medication options to help keep your dog calm during the celebrations.
Wholistic Hound Academy wishes all of our clients, friends, and all furry family pets a wonderful, safe, happy and healthy summer!
Sandy Modell, CPDT-KA, is the Founder, Owner, and Head of Training 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! Visit www.wholistichound.com to enroll in our programs, like us on Facebook.com/wholistichound and follow us on Instagram at Instagram.com/wholistichound.