If you live in the Northern hemisphere, chances are you’re experiencing some pretty hot weather around now, which could well be lasting another couple of months or so. (And if you live in the Southern hemisphere, please accept my apologies for something which might not be relevant to you right now. But your turn will come)
Please, please spare a thought for your dog in the heat. Unlike humans, dogs can’t sweat. The only way they can cool down is by panting. The more they pant, the hotter they are.
The comments I’m about to make ought to be common sense really, but judging by the number of people who “don’t” do what I’m about to recommend, I guess it can’t be as obvious to them as it is to me.
And if you already do everything on this list, then good for you. Please accept my apologies for trying to teach Grandma to suck eggs!
Top Ten Hot Weather Do’s And Don’ts For Dogs
Don’t exercise your dog during the heat of the day. Do it early in the morning and late in the evening when the temperature’s cooler.
The same goes for training – don’t expect the dog to have to concentrate on you while the sun’s blazing down on it.
If you _have_ to take the dog out in the heat of the day, don’t make the dog do anything more than is essential. And try and keep to grass rather than tarmac or sand, both of which can become incredibly hot. If you’re at all unsure, take your shoes and socks off and stand still for fifteen seconds. If the ground’s unbearably hot on the soles of your feet, you can be pretty sure it will be for your dog also.
If at all possible, never leave your dog in the car in hot weather. Even with the windows left open, the temperature inside can soar incredibly quickly when the car’s in full sun. Every summer, I read of dogs that have died in hot cars. And this year’s been no different. The most recent one I heard of was a police dog in Philadelphia.
Even if you think your dog will be OK in the car cos’ you parked it in the shade, be “extremely” vigilant. The sun moves around, and what was a nice patch of shade underneath a tree can be in full sun just half an hour later. If you “have” to leave the dog, make sure it’s got access to cool drinking water while you’re gone.
If you can’t avoid taking the dog in the car, try and plan your route carefully. If you’re able to keep up a good speed with the windows rolled down, there’ll be enough cool air movement for the dog to remain relatively comfortable. But if you slow right down and crawl along in rush hour traffic, even with the windows down, the temperature inside will quickly rise.
Worse still, you might get stuck in a traffic jam and be unable to move at all. Years ago, I was driving on the M25 London orbital motorway with my three dogs in the back. We were zipping along at a great speed, and although it was very hot outside because I had the windows down, there was plenty of air movement, and the dogs were all fine. Then suddenly, we ground to a halt in a huge tailback that lasted for miles. There was no way of getting off the road – all I could do was keep inching forward and hope for the best. That was the worst car journey of my life. The inside of the car became like a furnace, and all three dogs were gasping for air. One, in particular, was dreadfully distressed, and I very nearly lost her. I never want to experience that again.
Moral of the story? Try and ensure your route doesn’t lead you into a possible ‘no way out’ trap as mine did.
If you are making a long trip and you pull over for a break, be very careful about where you leave the car. If there’s “no” shade, you can leave it in, take the dogs out and find a little patch of shade to leave them in while you see to your needs. Be sure to leave them a drink of cool water and offer them some more before you carry on your way.
When traveling with dogs in the heat, always make sure you’ve got cool drinking water for them plus some sort of bowl to put it in. It’s a good idea to also have at least one plastic bottle of water that you’ve frozen beforehand. The heat of the car will gradually thaw it out.
Carry some old towels or blankets with you in case of an emergency. If you’re worried the dog’s too hot, put a towel into a bowl and pour cold water over it. Make sure it’s wet all over, then gently wring it out so that it’s damp but not dripping. Now spread the towel over the dog. Use as many towels as you need to cover all except the dog’s head. Keep changing the towels to ensure they stay cold. Then get your dog to the nearest vet as fast as possible.
If you can afford it, get a car with air conditioning! I’ve never yet had one, but I’ve promised myself that’s top of my wish list next time I change my car.
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