Getting your 10,000 steps up with your furry personal trainer is fun, but did you know you could be hurting them if you go at the wrong time of day?
By understanding how your dog regulate their body temperature and planning ahead - you can avoid potentially fatal situations.
How dogs cool off
Dogs cool down and regulate their body temperature by panting through their nose and mouth, and sweating through their paws. As a dog breathes in, air travels through their nasal passage and is cooled before it reaches the lungs.
When temperatures become warmer and more humid, dogs have a harder time cooling down. Your dog’s heart and lungs work harder as your dog breathes in and out quicker to reduce their body temperature. Short-snouted (Brachycephalic breeds) dogs, have a harder time cooling down because of their shorter nasal passages. For example, pugs, french bulldogs and even caviliers.
Here are a few safety tips when taking your dog out in warm weather:
1. Stay off Hot Pavement and Roads (Bitumen).
One major thing that many dog owners overlook when it's sunny out is their dog's feet. Paw pads can be easily burned by hot pavement. Summer heat warms pavements just like a frying pan and if the pavement gets too hot it can burn your dog’s paws. Sand can also get very hot, so use the hand technique to check sandy surfaces too.
Press the back of your hand against the asphalt or concrete for 5 seconds to verify if it will be comfortable for your dog to walk on. If it’s too hot for your hand, it’s too hot for your dog’s paws. Avoid these surfaces during the day or consider putting protective booties or paw wax on your dog’s paws as added protection.
2. Prevent sunburn - Walk or sit in the shade when outside. Provide shade when home.
Tops of the ears, bridge of the nose, around the eyes and abdomen are all sensitive areas on a dog's skin. These areas have thinner skin and are more exposed. So, if you plan to be out in hot sun for a while, consider purchasing a sun protector or high factor waterproof sunscreen specifically made for dogs. Provide them shade when at the beach and at home. Also if you have a thin haired dog and/or white dog you may need to take extra precautions as they tend to get sunburned more easily.
3. Comb and blow out shedding dogs and clip long-haired dogs.
Most dogs shed their coats at the beginning of summer, so daily grooming will help to remove the unwanted hair and will make your dog more comfortable. For double coated dogs - never shave them. Groomers will usually use a detangler shampoo to help remove shed hair, and will use a hair dryer to blow out shed hair, and will use a pin or slicker brush and use an undercoat comb and will part your dog's fur in sections as they groom.
For long-haired dogs, clipping their coat may also help with keeping them cooler in the summer months. Regularly grooming your dogs fur will also give you extra time to check for ticks and fleas and to check their skin and paws are in good shape.
4. Stay Hydrated - Bring a water bottle and a travel bowl
Pack a filled waterbottle for your dog on any outing and make sure your dog's travel water bowl is always filled on stops and is close by. These Dog water bottles with drinker attached are excellent in that instead of wasting any undrunk water, the water can drain back into the bottle without wasting it, which is great for use at beaches or markets or Expos or road trips where water taps might be hard to find.
5. Avoid water with blue-green algae and rivermouths where bull sharks like to be
Unfortunately, a growing number of ponds, lakes and rivers have blooms of blue-green algae during warmer months. It's important to always check waterways for unusual algae blooms and be alert to local advisories and warning signs around waterways. Wet them down with a hose or fill up a clam shell pool or foldable or inflatable kids pool.
6. Don't leave them in the car.
Dogs in Hot Cars Each year, the RSPCA receives hundreds of distress calls about animals (usually dogs) being left in cars in the heat. Never leave your dog unattended in a car. If you see an animal in distress contact the RSPCA's 24/7 Animal Emergency Hotline 1300 ANIMAL (1300 264 625).
7. Never exercise pets during the heat of the day.
Dogs can be affected by heat stroke very quickly in warm and humid weather because the only way dogs releases heat is by panting and sweating through the foot pads and nose. Prevention is key. Sunrise and sunset are the best times to take your dog for a walk in summer.
If you notice any of these signs in your dog or someone else's, they may be suffering heat stroke:
- Vigorous panting
- Dark red gums
- Dry gums
- Bloody vomiting or diarrhea
- Lying down and unwilling or can’t get up
- Staggering gait
- Collapse and/or loss of consciousness
- Thick saliva
If a dog is suffering heat stroke:
1. Move the dog out of the heat
2. Cool them off with a shower or tap water or place cool wet rags on their footpads and head. Do NOT use ice cold water - this can actually harm the dog further.
3. Offer the dog water but don’t force him/her to drink.
4. Call or visit the vet right away.
Note: Certain types of dogs are more sensitive to heat especially elderly dogs, overweight dogs and brachycephalic (short-nosed) breeds, like Pugs, Bulldogs, French bulldogs, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Cavoodles, Boxers and even Staffies. Take extreme precautions with these breeds during summer.
By taking a few simple precautions, you will help protect your dog and you will both have a lot more fun in the summer!
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