Dog’s Eye View: I’m melting, I’m melting!
June 22, 2017
In the 1939 classic "The Wizard of Oz," the wicked witch of the west couldn't fly on rainy days She would melt. Dorothy "fixed her wagon" by throwing water on her when she tried to steal the red slippers and kill her little dog, Toto.
In the summer heat, we run the potential for serious injury to our dogs if they do not get enough water. I picked up these tips from a blog written by Dr. Nancy Kay, DVM.
- Exercise your dog in the early morning or evening hours to avoid the most intense heat of the day.
- Be sure to take along water and a water bowl (one that is familiar to your dog) wherever you go. Don't rely on natural water sources being available.
- Allow for plenty of rest and water breaks during play activity and exercise. Your dog may not know his or her limits and will continue to enthusiastically chase the Frisbee long after it's time to slow down.
- Provide water access frequently. When out in the heat, be sure to provide a water stop (for you and your dog) at least once every 15 to 20 minutes.
- If your dog is preoccupied with something else (other dogs, a tennis ball, etc.) or too excited to drink, it is best to cut your outing short for the sake of preventing dehydration.
- As much as you love for your dog to go where you go, remember that, when temperatures are soaring, your dog's wellbeing may best be served by being left at home.
People who have brachycephalic dogs (boxers, French bulldogs and other flat-faced breeds) need to know that these dogs do not cool down the way our longer-nosed breeds do. Their air intake is restricted by the shape of their face and how closed the nostrils are compared to other breeds. We all know dogs cool themselves by panting. f they heat up too much, it takes longer to cool down.
There are a variety of K9 cooling vests on the market today that can help keep your dog cool, but don't count on that when the temperatures are high and the humidity is low. Dehydration can still occur.
This article does not address dogs being left in cars, but very special care must be taken in such situations. I have seen dogs left in cars that are trying their best to breathe in outside air through the two-inch opening their owner thought would be enough. It's not. Keep a thermometer in your car. You can buy one for less than $5, and it will prove to you how fast and how hot your car can get in the heat of the day.
I have wire and mesh crates, chill mats, a portable fan and alumi-net shade cloth I use when I am at all day nose work trials. I must manage my dog in the car in between our searches. I have a remote thermometer attached to the top of my dog's crate, and I keep the digital sensor in my pocket, so I can check temperature often. A dog that is panting to cool off can't focus on a good scent detection. I spend the day in that same car with my dog, and I keep my hydration in check, as well as my dog's. We have a great time.
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The only thing that might be melting is the chocolate bar in my pocket. I'm still thinking about that pair of red shoes.
Laura Tyler is a certified professional dog trainer with more than 25 years of experience. She has earned associate certification through the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, as well as Certified Nose Work Instructor through the National Association of Canine Scent Work. She owns Total Teamwork Training LLC here in Northwest Colorado.