As it heats up it’s important to pay attention to our dogs, to make sure they are staying cool. Here are some tips for surviving the heat with your dog.
I love to hike with my dogs on all of the wonderful trails there are to offer here in Colorado. On days when it’s going to be 90 and sunny be sure to either hike before the heat or drive to higher altitudes where it won’t be so hot. Be sure to take plenty of water and seek shade to rest in. My dogs are troopers and even if it’s too hot they will hike with me, which can be a bit dangerous. Dog’s are certainly susceptible to heat stroke. So watch their breathing. It’s normal for a dog to pant but make sure they aren’t panting so heavy they are having trouble catching their breath. I like to let the dogs dip into a creek or pond if possible. If their pads can get wet it can help them stay cool a lot better. If you have a northern breed dog, you are going to have to be especially careful that the dog is getting enough chances to rest and drink water. If the weather is predicting storms, be sure to bring lots of yummy treats to give your dog in case the lighting and thunder start to roll in. I remember as a kid we were hiking and a storm rolled in on us and the thunder being so loud! Even dogs who are not normally afraid of weather can become spooked by loud thunder. So do your best to support your dog so they don’t become afraid. Also check into what kind of trail you are going to hike on, there are some trails that are only made up of small sharp rocks, which for the humans is not a big deal but remember our dogs are not wearing sturdy hiking shoes. Dogs need time to build up strong pads, so if the trail isn’t good for dog’s, don’t feel bad about leaving them at home. A torn pad is tricky to heal, since most dogs don’t want to sit still and rest. So you are better off leaving your dog at home once instead of a month while their pad heals.
In general I don’t recommend taking your dogs to crowed out door events for a number of reasons. First and most obvious, the heat. Concrete and asphalt get so hot so fast and again our dogs don’t wear shoes and a dog can over heat in no time standing on hot asphalt. Second, you can’t control your surroundings and even for the most balanced dog it can be too much to be surrounded by so many strangers. Third, it can cause an overwhelmed dog to shut down. In dog training it’s called “flooding” which in my opinion can be cruel. My own dogs love people, but not crowds of strangers. So I urge you to leave your dogs at home when you are going to crowded outdoor festivals. If you are going to bring your dog, be sure to bring A TON of water, seek shade and make sure the dog has frequent chances to take a break away from the crowds.
Rachel Laurie CPDT-KA