Summer, Your Dog and the Heat

Dog care in preparation for summer

The summer grows near and the heat is already here. So, now it’s time for people to get outside and work in their gardens, carry on with outdoor projects, and even fit in a regular workout. But with the increasing heat, we’re left wondering how to stay cool while enjoying the summer air.

For our dogs, the summer heat can be a little more extreme. We can take off an extra layer of clothes when it gets too hot, but our dogs are usually stuck with the same coat all year around. On top of that, the body heat for a dog is naturally higher and they can’t sweat to cool down like we do! As your dog’s owner and protector, it’s up to you to ensure their health this summer.

For starters, don’t’ take your dog out on hot pavement, which can be an astounding twenty degrees hotter than the air. The heat from asphalt can blister paws very quickly. Even a single trip outside just to potty can leave your dog with singed paws. A grass litter box on the patio or even inside can prevent mid-day treks across hot pavement.

Exercising outdoors

Staying fit is fun for the both of you, but also keep in mind that your dog’s body isn’t the same as yours. Before starting your workout, it can take some careful planning so that you can safely stay cool. First of all, choose a place that will provide shade from the heat. Parks with thick tree lines will be best for insulating the ground from excess heat. Staying hydrated is important for the both of you. Remember that because dogs can’t sweat like people do, they will instead salivate and pant in order to cool their bodies. This naturally demands water to help carry out the process. Carry cool, not frozen, water with you. A bottle will work, but there are collapsible bowls that are easy enough to stash while you’re working out. Also, keep in mind that a healthy diet provides energy, allowing the body to perform daily tasks properly. Feeding your dog a healthy diet will make a difference on how susceptible their body is to the heat.

Shave, not just a haircut

What about the controversial technique of simply shaving your dog? Many owners firmly believe it works, while others have their doubts. In this scenario, it often depends on circumstance, environment, and breed to come to the best decision. It can be good and it can be bad. Consider some of the results that fellow dog owners have encountered.

Perhaps one of the biggest concerns is that the dog’s fur becomes very thin, revealing their sensitive skin. This means they can easily get sunburned. Unlike people whose skins normally develop melanin to help guard against the sun’s effects, dogs rely on their fur to protect their skin.

A positive side is that shaving eliminates an extra layer of fur that can keep heat in, rather than out, since it can accumulate dirt and debris. The extra fur and dirt in it can act as a barrier, keeping natural body heat in.

To counter this effect, double-coated dogs like corgis naturally have a short, thin fur designed to help keep them cool during the summer heat. This is one of the reasons that double-coated breeds seem to shed at extraordinary levels, especially during the summer months. It is recommended that you not shave these certain breeds of dog because the multi-coats work to protect their skin and keep heat out, rather than in.

Protect your dog’s sensitive spots

What about sunscreen for dogs? Dogs are just as susceptible to sunburns as people, especially if you’ve recently had them shaved. But, sunscreen for a human isn’t the same for a dog. You should never use any ointments or creams designed for a person on your dog, especially lotions and sunscreen. The chemical content can not only irritate skin, but can be toxic if your dog consumes it (licking their nose or belly).

Applications should be made to sun-sensitive areas such as tips of ears, nose, belly, and groin areas where fur is naturally thinner and skin is more sensitive. The belly is important, especially if you notice that your dog tends to enjoy sunbathing belly-up by the window.

This summer, keep the heat away from your dog and your dog out of the heat. It’s still good to get out and enjoy the summer activities, but you need to be ready to keep your dog cool so they can enjoy a happy and healthy summer with you.

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ROCKY ADVENTURE – A Dog Show, Go Izzy!

Porch Potty: Rocky Adventure

We packed up early this morning, the old man and I. He packs a lunch for the both of us, so I know we are spending the day abroad. That usually means we’re not just going to the dog park, we’re out for a real adventure.

Just like I predicted, we weren’t headed for the park. Instead, we took a completely different route through houses and fences far beyond those which I’ve ever laid eyes or nose to. I peek up from my seat in the back, seeing all the new and unfamiliar yards and their trees that desperately need some attention. I even detect the smell of letters that need addressing and a few cats that might need chasing.

But, we don’t stop for any of these things. Instead, the old man is determined on one destination, which turns out to be far more entertaining than anything I’ve ever seen before (though, there was that strawberry cake that Debbie left last week which had my strictest attention). We stopped in a busy lot that was buzzing with other automobiles and people. While these items littered the area, it was the dogs that had my attention. They were everywhere! Some were furry, some fluffy, some big, and others small. Some even looked a little familiar…

Then I noticed that I wasn’t the only dog I knew here- Izzy had decided to come as well. Debbie was following quickly behind my old friend, who looked a little different today.

“Looks like you got a fur-cut!” I remarked while we inspected one another as is always proper procedure.

“Yep, just getting prepared for the show.” Izzy remarks in an oddly proper manner. “My old lady says I shine like a star and that this is a great opportunity to show my stuff.”

“Cool! Is it a race? Are you going to chase the ball? See who can run the fastest?” I asked, thinking maybe I could compete as well.

“I don’t know, but we’ve been practicing an obstacle course lately.” Izzy shook his head, “It’s mostly just jumping over stuff and even learning how to translate their barks into words, like when they want us to sit and stay. They always sound so funny when they make those silly noises.”

With that, we were headed for the building. And so was everyone else. There had to have been at least…well I don’t know how many, but there were a lot of people. We don’t have fingers to count on, but I know there were more of them than I had bones in the back yard.

Inside, Debbie and Izzy were separated from the crowd, but I had little time to think about that. There were so many different smells and dogs here to meet and greet. I offered a few greetings, and even saw a few tails I might like to chase. But, we were set for a particular destination- a view above the arena. Below the crowd, there were dogs and their companions waiting to play on a grassy field of obstacles.

We sat together, I on the old man’s lap so I could see the field clearly. Because I have such little patience, I was lucky it didn’t take long for them to start the fun and games. I wanted to play, but the old man held me firmly, scratching just behind and below my ears, where it is hypnotically therapeutic to my karma (I’d fall asleep if there wasn’t so much going on around me).

A few unknown dogs race through the obstacles and perform a few tricks with their companions. I recognized a couple of them from earlier, but didn’t know their names. But, I gave a bark out to them anyway. Then, when Izzy appeared for his turn, I had to let him know I was here for him. I barked and howled my support, and even gave an effort to get away so I could get down there and help him out, but the old man wouldn’t let me go. Izzy did well though, racing through the course faster as I barked my support.

I know that races sometimes depend on the length of your legs and the years you’ve been around. Often, catching the ball might depend on who can jump the highest. There are even times when the smartest figure out how to get the treat first. But, all I know is that if the rules are to be a good dog, then all of us win that one.

Author:

Jason Duron is a short story writer and author of several fiction stories.  Curious and lovable as dogs can be, the Adventures of Rocky give you a chance to see daily life from a “dog’s eye view” and share in their thoughts.  Please enjoy, and we hope that you’ll feel free to comment and give us insight into your dog’s very own “rocky” adventures.

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Seat Belts for Dogs?

Every time you get into your car, the first thing you do is buckle up. It’s not only the law; it’s also for your safety. And while seatbelts are specially designed to help keep us comfortable and safe, they don’t seem to readily configure to your dog’s body. And so, dogs don’t usually buckle up. Instead, they might just sit in the back seat, or hang out the window and let the wind blow in their faces, and in some cases, they might even sit on your lap.

The problem with this is that a loose dog can move around in the vehicle and do whatever they want. They might see something exciting and rush to the window, possibly blocking your view. They might get down on the floorboards or interfere with your steering, and they can even become a projectile if you get hit, turn, or stop too fast. A loose dog isn’t safe for either of you.

Distractions

Having a dog distract you while you’re driving is perhaps one of the most dangerous scenarios and can even cause accidents. While your dog is loose in the vehicle, it can be irresistible to take a second to pet them, give them a treat, or divert your eyes just to check on what they’re doing at the moment (hopefully not chewing on the seat). Though you may not notice it, turning your attention away, especially your eyes often makes your brain tell your body, and thus your will, to move in that direction, resulting in merging into another lane or onto the road’s shoulder.

Not a place for a lap dog

For many dog lovers, having your dog enjoy the comfort and closeness of sitting on your lap seems like the caring thing to do. But sitting on your lap is one of the biggest concerns for road safety. Smaller dogs may seem cute and comfortable relaxing there, but it can become physically distracting, and even dangerous if you’re in an accident. Though smaller dogs don’t seem like they’d interfere with steering or even the operation of the vehicle, there’s no way to be absolutely sure that they won’t do something radically different, like jumping on the steering wheel or climbing down towards the throttle or brake pedal.

In an accident, a dog on your lap could be seriously injured and hurt you as well. Many new vehicles utilize airbags, which are sensitive to impact. Even if you’re in a small accident, the airbag could deploy and seriously injure both of you.

A moving dog

Perhaps the most dangerous aspect of an unbuckled dog is that they can become a danger to others in an accident. Just like a person, a dog would continue to move at the same speed of the vehicle in an accident scenario. In a sudden stop from as little as 35 mph, anything unsecured could be thrown from a vehicle, causing injury to anyone in the path. Because there’s no telling when or where an accident might happen, it’s best to never take a chance with you or anyone else’s safety.

Harnesses come in little variety, but have their innovative ideas that make buckling up easier and more comfortable for your dog.

• Kurgo’s Trufit Smart Harness: This harness has padded straps for added comfort and latches into the vehicle’s standard seatbelt system.
• Kurgo’s other product, the Auto Zipline, can be turned into a seatbelt by attaching the zipline to any two stationary points in the vehicle.
• American Tourister also has their own safety harness, using padded mesh to keep your dog comfortable and safe.
• Top Paw’s harness features an auxiliary tether, for added safety and stability.
• Pet Buckle is another maker that appeals with a fully padded cross harness.

Some manufactures use harnesses that aren’t padded, and might do their job, but won’t be as comfortable for your dog, which means they may not like being in it. But the great thing about a seatbelt harness is that they can double as a leash harness, so when you get to the park, you can just unbuckle and start having fun.

So the next time you get ready to go down to the park or over to a friend’s house for a doggy date, make sure that everyone buckles up. With a comfortable harness that fits properly, your pup can buckle up just like the rest of the family and stay just as safe. And remember, the best way to stay safe is to prevent any accidents from happening by buckling your pup up!

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