Thursday, June 26, 2008

Hot Times, Comfy Puppies

Summer is a wonderful season, but the heat can sometimes make things hard for those with fur. While I'm very pro-sunshine, there are some definite dog dangers associated with an overexposure to the sun, most especially heat stroke. The dogs at greatest risk for heat stroke include:

Overweight dogs
Dogs on medication
Puppies up to 6 months of age
Large breeds over 7 years old
Small breeds over 14 years old
Dogs with dark-colored fur
Breeds with thick coats
Breeds with short muzzles
Dogs with short, wide heads (breeds like Pugs & Bulldogs)
Dogs with lung, heart/circulatory problems

Dogs mostly rely on panting to cool them down, but there are some things we can do to help them out. Here are some easy tips for helping to ensure canine comfort & health when the temperature goes up:

*Make sure plenty of water is available at all times throughout the day.

*When you go on walks, be SURE to bring a bottle of water and travel bowl.

*While roaming about town, remember that ground surfaces, especially blacktop and asphalt can get VERY hot, and even burn paws. Be mindful and considerate about the route you lead your dog on.

*If your pup is let outside to play, be sure there is ample shade for cooling off in. Dog bodies cool off from bottom to top, so a damp towel for resting on is often a great idea, too.

*Ice cubes can be a fun treat (just talk to your vet for approval first.)

*Try freezing tasty concoctions in treat-stuffable toys (such as Kongs, etc.)

*Get out the hose and splash around together.

*Turn on the sprinklers.

*Purchase a small kiddie pool, and fill it with shallow water. Toss in toys that float.

*When inside, keep your dog in an air conditioned, or cooler part of the home.

*Have freezable teething comfort toys on hand (Petstages makes great, colorful, soft ones.)

*As always, NEVER leave your dog in a parked car (and if you see someone else doing so, please discreetly call 911 or notify your local SPCA for help.)

*Keep in mind that dogs can get sunburned, too (especially light-skinned breeds like Pit Bulls & Dalmatians; it might sound silly, but breeds without nose pigment like Collies and Shetlands are actually prone to noseburns!) Talk to your vet about whether or not your dog might need sunblock. Dogs typically need the most protection along the outside tips of ears, bridge of the nose, inside legs, & tummy. Many Vets recommend Epi-Pet, an FDA-approved sunscreen designed specifically for dogs and horses.

Stay cool! (...and, while we're referencing cheesy 80s yearbook sayings: "have a nice summer," "K.I.T," and "S.U.N.Y," too...)

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