They say that one of Canadians’ favourite topics of conversation is the weather. Now I’m not suggesting that dogs “chat” about the weather when they meet in the park but they are definitely affected by the weather and know when it’s too hot, too cold, too wet, etc.
As I sit here writing this article, the rain is tipping down. However, being this time of the year in Southern Alberta, I expect within hours it will be hot with all evidence of a storm gone. So let’s take a dive into how we should act when the summer heat rolls in and things to look for as it affects our dogs.
Some of the thinner coated breeds prefer heat to cold and vice versa for the thicker coated, often larger, breeds. But one thing is for sure: all dogs need to be hydrated, so please ensure your dog has an ample supply of good, clean water at all times. If you leave the house, whether to go hiking or just out for a drive, take a good supply of water and some form of utensil for your dog to drink out of. Dogs rarely verbalize the fact that they are thirsty so keep a close eye on their body language. Panting can be a signal for a few things but, on a hot day, there is a fair chance that your dog is displaying the need to be hydrated.
A major concern I have during the summer months is when I hear of people leaving dogs in vehicles. It is scary how quickly vehicles can heat up, particularly if the windows are all closed. Too many dogs die of heat stroke in vehicles because people just don’t think or don’t care about their dog’s welfare. It is far better to leave your dog at home on a hot day than to subject them to the dangers of heat exhaustion.
During the hot weather, most people will wear some form of sandal or shoes to protect their feet. Some people walk bare footed. Dogs have no choice: paws. As such, it is vital in the hot weather to check the temperature of roadways or sidewalks before your dog steps on them. Too hot a surface can burn the pads on your dog’s paws. Not only is that painful and harmful to your dog, it will likely be a costly exercise at your veterinary clinic. A simple test to determine whether a surface is too hot for your dog to walk on or not is to put your bare foot or arm on the surface. If you can’t keep it on the surface for a minimum of 10 seconds without it burning, then the surface is too hot for your dog.
Finally, allow your dog access to a shaded area when he/she is outside in the summer. Dogs are smarter than we sometimes give them credit for and, even though they look like they are staying too long in the sun, they will find shade when their internal thermometer tells them to.
Knowing your dog, using common sense and reminding yourself that your dog is an integral part of your family and should be treated as such will hopefully get you and your dog through the hot weather unscathed.