By Sandy Modell
Alexandria, VA – Summer is fun for humans and dogs alike, but a few common-sense suggestions may make a happier one for you and your pup. Some dogs are susceptible to the heat, regardless of breed or amount of fur. On really hot days, shorter walks and inside activities that provide good mental stimulation for your dog can keep your dog both safe and happy.
Here are a few good tips to keep in mind as the dog days of summer approach:
- 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.
- 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.
- Mental stimulation is as essential as physical exercise for your dog. Ten minutes of mental training exercises are equal to a 1/2-hour walk. There are many training games, including nose 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.
- Never leave your dog tied outside unattended in summer. If your dog spends time in a crate, ensure it is in an air-conditioned environment or cooled with a fan.
- Take your dog swimming rather than running.
- Buy a kiddie pool for your yard, fill it with water, and put your dog’s favorite toys in it. Teach your dog to play in the sprinkler or hose.
- Avoid taking your dog directly from cool AC into intense heat—he could collapse from such an abrupt temperature change.
- Don’t shave your dog down to the skin unless you normally do that 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 the hair to the skin to help cool them.
- Keep your dog’s coat in good condition by brushing him regularly and removing trapped dead hair that, if not removed, will prevent air from reaching his skin.
- Inside the house, be sure your pet always has access to fresh, clean water. Bring a bottle of water 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. If you and your dog are outside in the heat, provide ample water and seek cooling shade during the outing.
- Know the symptoms of pet overheating, including excessive panting or difficulty breathing, increased heart and respiratory rate, drooling, mild weakness, stupor, or even collapse. An elevated body temperature over 104 degrees can cause seizures, bloody diarrhea, and vomiting.
Bonus Tip: Keep your pets away from fireworks. Summer is the perfect time for barbecues, picnics, and outdoor celebrations, like 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 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, your veterinarian can provide medication options to help keep your dog calm during the celebrations.
Wholistic Hound Academy wishes all our clients, friends, and furry family pets a wonderful, safe, happy, and healthy summer!
Sandy Modell, CPDT-KA, is the Founder, Owner, and Head Trainer of Wholistic Hound Academy, Alexandria’s award-winning, premier canine training and learning center — offering classes and private lessons in puppy training, adolescent and adult foundation and life skills, behavior modification, agility, dog sports, and canine fitness and conditioning, kids and dogs, pre-pet planning and pet selection. Classes are 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.