Dog Days of SummerSaturday, 10 July 2010 20:00
Humans can easily accommodate to the rising temperatures outdoors. Like MOM probably told you repeatedly: stay hydrated, bring H2O (in a stainless steel or BPA-free bottle), slather on the sunblock, bring a hat, and wear light clothes. If the sun gets too bright, find shelter under a tree or make plans to go out during the morning or evening while the heat is bearable. Easy, right? Now what about your canine companion who's covered in hair and cools off by panting? If you're worried about his/her health, you have every right to be. Heatstroke should be taken seriously, especially with elderly and short-nosed dogs. But all that can be avoided with the proper preparations and precautions.
Just like people carry bottled water on bright and sunny days, they should bring portable travel pet bowls (or collapsible bowls) when hanging out with animal companions. Pack up on water before you head out and make sure you freeze the bottles or store them in a cooler- dogs and cats are very picky and dislike warm, stale water. You and Buster will be glad you prepped up when you gulp down that heavenly cool H20. Setting the bowl under the nice shade of a tree isn't a bad idea.
Now that we've discussed hydration, let's move to the next topic: cars. Most dogs love the ride- not only do they get to stick their heads out the window and watch tongues flap against the wind, but they also get attention from smiling drivers and see the wonderful world pass by in a flash. As long as you make sure your dog is safe (don't open those windows too much and get a dog car harness or booster seat! Car accidents also affect animals!), a ride in the family vehicle is A-OK. However, NEVER leave your barking friend inside, especially when temperatures get high. If you thought the heat outside was bad, inside the car it's ten times worse. That goes for everyone else as well. If you drive by a parked car with a hot pooch inside, look for the owner or talk to a store manager, guard, or call the authorities. Most people are misinformed or in a hurry- forgetting that a few minutes in a car can feel like an eternity.
Going for a walk is great for you and your companion. Taking a stroll cures cabin fever and allows you to exercise stiff muscles. Dogs also need their daily workouts! While many people believe paws are resilient to ANYTHING, the skin in that area is very sensitive. That's not an excuse to stay indoors, though: there's always grass or dirt. Tar and pavement can cause burns- so check Fido's paw-paws frequently. Having multiple shade spots is a must! Everyone needs a breather from ultraviolet rays! Even when you're back home, it's extremely important animals have a shaded corner to cool off.
Can't head out to the park? If you have a backyard (or any type of yard), bring out the water hose. You're not bathing the dog! By splashing some water on the panting pooch, you're helping the poor, hairy friend cool off. Just don't attempt this with a cat! A dampened towel will work just fine. When felines and canines figure out they're not in line for a scrub-a-dub, they'll be extra thankful. Want something more creative? Get a sprinkler or a kiddie pool. Just make sure there's no danger of drowning (pups and children should ALWAYS be supervised).
Last but not least, keep your companion animals healthy and well-groomed. The groomer doesn't need to shave off pounds of hair- a trim works just fine. A brush or two a day helps Fido feel more comfortable and saves you from having to vacuum hair from every surface in the house 7 days a week.
Still feeling weary about taking Buster outdoors? Provided he is small or you're strong, you can buy a doggie stroller or backpack. Go ahead, we know you like to spoil him!