Posts Tagged ‘Dog Safety’

Hot Dog! Summertime Fun in the Sun

Tuesday, June 8th, 2010

Don’t know what you have going in your communities in summer, but by the end of this summer Raja will have been to a bike race, a strawberry festival, numerous little league and softball games, various yard sales, a 4 H fair, a harvest festival at the peach farm, and had scores of hikes.  That’s about average for a normal community. 

The good thing about outside summer events is that dogs are usually welcome, but the bad thing is the possibility for heat exhaustion where shade and cool down are not provided.  Dogs that are overweight, have heart and lung trouble, or are subject to seizures should stay out of the heat.  Excursions in the early morning or after sundown are best for them.  Brachycephalic dogs (dogs with very wide heads and short noses) should also be wary of heat.  

Raja is a brachycephalic Shih Tzu (along with the Pug, American Bull Dog, Pekingese and many others); we’re very careful about having heat reducing methods ready in advance.  Here is a list of heat reducers that help us travel in  the humidity of summer and the relentless sun of the desert.  You could say nobody needs to be warned about heat for dogs any more, but last weekend Raja and I had to tell some  mindless people that their frantic Bichon was near heat stroke, so I think we need to keep the topic rolling.  And if you readers have any more suggestions, please just post them in using the comments section.  I will moderate all on-topic comments in daily. 

  1. Never fail to carry water which can be used as a drink or a cooling splash down the neck and back.  (Raja likes the Evian water mister for his nose, but it’s just not that eco friendly, is it?)
  2. A frozen water bottle (3/4 full) can be slid into a sock and used as a pillow for a dog resting in the heat under a shady tree.  You can even hold your dog’s paws against the sides of the bottle for short periods for a quick chill-thrill.
  3. Similarly, that frozen bottle can be set on its side in a travel bag, airline transport bag or other front or side carried doggie carrier to create a personal air conditioner when out and about.  (If you use the frozen bottle to transport a pet to the airport in his in-cabin carrier, remember to remove it on the plane.  Most airplane floors are chilly and the bottle could make your pet miserable in flight.)
  4. Re-chillable, flexible cooler ice blankets (available at most camping equipment stores and sites) can be carried to a picnic in the cooler and then can be double purposed as a relaxing mat for your dog throughout the day.  (Raja’s friend Demon Flash Bandit the Siberian Husky shared this suggestion.)
  5. Similarly, these mats, if they are made of individual cells, can be trimmed to fit inside a travel bag to be set under the bottom pad as a constantly cool (but never cold) bottom for shopping dogs who are being transported about town. 
  6. Battery operated fans are great for wicking away heat for resting dogs that are relaxing in the shade.  (Thanks to teacup agility champions Chloe and Cara for this tip.)
  7. Shops that sell clothes for construction and line workers often sell inexpensive neck bandannas filled with water-absorbing polymer crystals.  Buy two.  Small dogs can wear them on hot days wrapped just behind the withers and tied behind the front legs.  You can put yours around your neck.  I like it when Raja’s and mine match.
  8. The water soakable, heat wicking vests you can buy on dog product sites work so well to keep the core cool, but remember to refresh the vests often with fresh water.  Raja loves his in Sedona in summer.  For agility dogs during trials, consult your vet about using the cooling vests.  Raja’s vet’s office (Three Rivers Holistic Veterinary Services in Madison, New Jersey) says wearing these vests on seething summer days out and about, hiking and playing is safe and beneficial.  (Be careful to get the right size.  The water increases their weight and you wouldn’t want a 4 pound Chihuahua in a 10 pound vest.  Slows them down terribly.) 

OK, everybody, pack your chill gear and get going!