Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Keeping Your Dog Safe In The Heat Of Summer

Tacoma dog trainer, Kate Johansson of Fast Pup Dog Training, worries about Pacific Northwest dogs and the heat.

Dogs have a more difficult time regulating their temperature than humans, because they do not sweat. Virtually the only cooling mechanism they have is panting. And they become so excited about play or training exercises that they often won't quit and take a break until it is too late.

While dogs need exercise every day, on hot days it is important to be extra careful about not letting your dog get over heated during play or training. Here in the Pacific Northwest, the days of super heat (above 90 degrees) are few but our dogs are not used to even a 75 or 80 degree day--especially after many months of fall, winter and spring. It is important to remember that a sudden hot day can be a shock to the dog's body when playing or training hard. Johansson advises a number of precautions to take with your dog.

Watch your dogs' panting carefully. Dogs have a more difficult time than humans with regulating their body temperature. There is normal panting and there is desperate gasping or panting with the tongue extended and out to one side of the mouth. If your dogs' panting is more frantic than usual, it is time to get your dog to water and/or shade and start cooling them off.

If your dog seems "loopy," dizzy, or is having trouble standing or walking, your dog is in great danger. You need to get the dog cooled off quickly. If you think your dog has had the possibility of a heat stroke, you need to get him to the vet as soon as possible after cooling him down.

Never leave your dog in a car in the summer. Clouds burn off, shade moves position and the day can heat up quickly. Even with the windows partially down, the heat in a car or a truck cab can get to dangerous levels. If you can't take your dog inside with you on an errand, leave him home where he will be safe.

Try to train or play near a body of water. If a pond or stream is not available, use a 5 gallon container to haul water and pour into a small plastic pool or feed trough, such as what is pictured above. Most dogs who are starting to get overheated will instinctively get into a little pool to cool off.

Collars that can be filled with ice are great for helping regulate the temperature. As the ice melts, it drips down the dog's chest, creating artificial sweat that evaporates. Check out this link:

Get the dog to shade and put water on the dog's chest and belly. Rubbing alcohol can also be used.

If your dog gets seriously overheated it is important to cool him down quickly--but not too much. Normal body temperature for a dog is between 101 -- 103 degrees. If your dog's temperature gets to 106 degrees, he is in serious trouble. But you don't want to over cool him either. Having a thermometer is a great thing to have with you in the event of an overheating situation.

With a little planning, your dog should be able to get all the exercise and training he deserves and still stay safe over the summer.

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