It doesn’t take much for dogs to become over heated. They don’t sweat through their skin like us. Their body heat is released through their tongues by panting, through their nose and through the pads of their feet. If dogs cannot successfully expel their internal body heat the rising temperature will cause hyperthermia. Heatstroke or heat exhaustion may cause irreversible damage to internal organs and in severe cases death.
One of my biggest pet peeves is watching people running or biking with their dogs in the summer heat. If you want to sweat it in the midday suns go ahead but your dog cannot sweat it out. Last year I stopped my car along Reynolds Road to offer some water for a suffering dog with its tongue hanging to the ground while running beside its owner. The owner refused the water saying her dog had water before they left and kept on running. Dogs are tenacious and they will keep on running to keep up with you but dogs can quickly succumb to hyperthermia. They will run until they drop from heatstroke or heat exhaustion; they will run with you until they have a heart attack and they will run with you even though their paws have blisters and are bleeding from burns caused by running on the hot tarmac.
I am sure most people by now have heard of the tragic events last month in the lower mainland that led tragically to 6 dogs dying of heatstroke in the back of a vehicle. The windows were open ajar and they had access to water. These attempts to keep the vehicle cool and hydration of the dogs were not enough in May. It’s hotter now in June and will get even hotter over the next 2 months. The windows magnify the sun’s rays. There is no need what so ever to leave your dogs in a vehicle…leave your dog at home; and if tempted - remember those 6 dogs that couldn’t cool themselves.
There are measures you can take to help avoid hyperthermia this summer while still having fun with your dogs.
1: Know the signs of a hot dog; the long panting tongue, a dog seeking shade to lay their belly on or digging in the dirt to create a cooling bed or lying on the tiles instead of the carpet.
2: Provide shade. Out on your sundeck or in the back yard make sure your dog, which loves you and wants to be with you, has a shady spot to lie down in.
3: Get a kiddie pool for the back yard. Toss your dog’s favorite toys into the pool for them to retrieve. If they are new to playing in the water make it a fun game for them so it is more about the play then getting wet.
4: Remember to place extra water bowls outside on the deck, backyard or anywhere else you spend summer time so your dogs have quick and easy access to hydrate themselves.
5: Put their treats in their water bowl – while seeking treats they will be hydrating by drinking water.
6: Freeze treats in ice trays or freeze their favorite toys in water to help with hydration.
7: When watering your dog down remember it’s more important to wet their belly then their backs or head. Water your dogs from the feet up so if dogs who don’t like to get totally wet can be cooled from wet feet and a wet belly.
8: There are multiple cooling jackets on the market these days. I could not run Elfie in summer agility trials without one. I use Chilly Buddies, they don’t need to be wet down and reflect the sun’s rays. There are also cooling gels to place in dogs’ beds – great for an aging dog who is seeking those hard tiles to lie on.
9: Take your dog swimming. I love Beddis Beach as it is a great place to toss sticks and balls into the cooling water for my dogs to retrieve; it also has lots of shade.
10: Exercise your dogs in the early morning and late evening leaving the midday sun as rest time.
Most of all have a wonderful and safe summer.