Summer Care - Twickenham Hot Weather Tips
Summer is upon us and the temperature and humidity is on its way to uncomfortable levels. This is a good time to review our suggestions to makes sure your fuzzy friends are healthy and comfortable.
Dogs have a far less efficient cooling system than humans. They don't perspire like we do and therefore get no evaporative cooling from most of their bodies. They lose heat from the pads of their feed and their noses by evaporation, by panting and from conduction by lying on cool surfaces. Keeping this in mind there are some things we can do to help them out.
First and most important, make sure your dog has access to a continuous supply of cool. clean water. A large bowl located in a central area filled with fresh water can be cooled with a few ice cubes or refrigerated freeze pack but it should not be frigid. Water that is too cold might induce vomiting.
Exercise can be accomplished in the morning and evening hours when it is coolest outside. "Forced exercise" like having your dog with you on a run or bicycle ride should be avoided. Your dog cannot lose heat as readily as you can but will try to keep up and may overheat. Slow is better. If you are concerned that your dog is gaining weight, it is better to reduce the groceries or substitute some veggies for some of the kibble in the hot weather than to try to work it off. They will burn fewer calories in the summer in any event so a diet is not a bad idea.
Grooming is most important in the hotter months. Even if you have your friend in a puppy cut or shaved down take special care to ensure that there is not matting particularly on the underside. A matted area of 1/2 inch thickness on the belly is far worse than a full coat well brushed out. It will inhibit the transfer of heat by conduction that is accomplished when your pal lies on a cool surface. Also remember to trim the hair between the pads so that heat can be readily lost from the feet.
Every dog has a favorite place to nap in the summertime. Usually it is in a cool shady place with a hard conductive surface. Our dogs like the basement with the slate floor in our current house but we had dogs that liked the tile floor in the bathroom or the cast iron bathtub.
Some dogs like to snuggle up to the toilet because there is a cooling effect each time it is flushed and cold water refills the bowl.
Outside is not good. There are fewer good places and the temptation to dig down to find cool earth to lie on may be succumbed to with unfortunate result both to your landscape and your dog's coat. Air conditioning is nice and Gareth finds that it is very pleasant to lie on the A/C register and have the cold air blow on his belly. Keep these prime locations available.
Trips in the car are always fun but must be avoided in the summertime unless the car will be constantly moving or the A/C operating. Even if you are only gone for a few minutes on errands the interior of a car can heat up rapidly to dangerous levels. This can occur even with windows down unless there is a fan to evacuate the superheated air. We take our guys to the park and back or have one of us remain in the car in the parking lot with the A/C running when there is an outing that includes the fuzzy ones. Mostly they stay at home and chill out in the A/C.
Be aware of the warning signs of heat stroke or heat exhaustion which are very rapid panting and physical collapse. In these cases you should see your vet immediately. They will probably provide IV fluids to rehydrate and use cold compresses on the belly and inner thighs to get the body temperature down. Best to avoid this nasty event.
Enjoy your summer.
Twickenham Old English Sheepdogs
Kay & Sanford Woodard
255 Saddle Hill Road
Stamford, CT 06903-2305