In just a few weeks, June 21st will be upon us marking the official start of the summer of 2013! Children will be off from school, pools will be open, the convertible tops will be down and the AC running. The warm weather brings with it so many fun opportunities but along with that also comes some potential hazards for our beloved pets.
Most of us live in the luxury of air conditioning. Once the weather gets hot, the windows get closed and the AC turned on. This never gives our animals an opportunity to adjust to the warmer temperatures. In fact, you will find that frequently your beloved animal will be luxuriating right next to the AC vent. While the AC isnít harmful to your pet, keep in mind that living in an air conditioned environment doesnít give them the opportunity to adjust to the warmer weather. Be mindful that when you take your dog outside to go for a walk and play a rousing game of fetch that its body will quickly heat up.
Dogs are very intelligent, but their willingness to please their owners far exceeds their understanding about taking care of their own bodies. Even if a dog is getting over-heated, if the owner is encouraging the dog to run after the ball one more time or continue on their walk, most dogs will gladly oblige. They rely on us to make appropriate decisions regarding their health and well-being.
Heat stroke is not uncommon in dogs. Their cooling mechanism is much different than ours. They cool themselves mainly via panting. They also dissipate heat by dilating blood vessels in the face and ears. Dilating blood vessels cool the dog by allowing the blood to flow closer to the skin. While we may feel uncomfortable when we sweat the mechanism of bringing warm moisture to the surface of the skin causes cooling as the water evaporates. We have sweat glands all over our body. A dogís sweat glands are in short supply, most of them being in their footpads. They donít have the luxury of overall cooling as we do.
A dogís normal temperature is within 100.5 Ė 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit. If its temperature rises to 105, heat exhaustion may occur. If it rises to107 heat stroke can occur. Heat stroke can result in brain damage and even death. Tell tale signs of overheating include the dog appearing sluggish and perhaps confused. His gums and tongue may appear bright red and he will be panting hard. The dog may also vomit, collapse, have a seizure and may go into a coma.
Should you suspect that your dog is having a problem get him to a vet as soon as possible. An overheated dog is a real emergency. If possible, pour water from the garden hose on him to begin the cooling process. On the way to the vet, cover him with cool wet towels or spritz him with cool water, not ice cold water. It is important that the dogís temperature be lowered but gradually.
One great way to keep your dog cool is to keep a hard-sided baby pool in the yard with cool fresh water. Encourage your dog to take a break and take a dip before resuming activity. A sprinkler or a good soaking with the garden hose can be a welcome relief. Donít frighten your dog with any of these. It may take some dogs a bit of time to realize the comfort and fun that will come from a dip in the baby pool or squirt of the hose. Be patient and before long your dog will learn the joys of a good romp in the water.
Mary Lou Hanlon is a longtime resident of Warren and is the owner of PetMinders, Inc, The Kennel Alternative. PetMinders has been providing professional petsitting and dog training lessons in the privacy of clients homes for over 16 years. Mary Lou is one of the nations top agility competitors. She has competed both nationally and internationally and has received numerous awards in both dog obedience as well as agility. She can be reached at 908-755-PETS (7387), via email at email@example.com or visit the website www.petmindersinc.com