We may love the heat, but it’s hard on our canine companions. Whether you live in Arizona or Alaska, rising temperatures affect your dog during the summer. And with global warming driving average temperatures up, the situation won’t get any easier for our four-legged friends.
Dogs have defective cooling systems. They lose heat only through respiration and their paws, and they don’t perspire like we do. Like any heat producing engine, they radiate heat to the environment. This is a great system for an animal that evolved for life in the taiga and the Ice Age, or cold deserts at night. It’s not so great for a sled dog living in Florida.
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Your dog should always have plenty of fresh cool water available. If you’re taking your dog for a walk, there are some very neat new devices for carrying water for your dog.
Use a good quality cooling jacket. If you’re going to work a dog in warm weather, take a good cue from the best agility and search and rescue handlers: be prepared with lots and lots of water, a good cooling jacket that works properly, and perhaps a cool pond in which to quickly dissipate heat.
My dog Buddy’s unwillingness to come out of the shade for a walk was what gave me a clue to develop my own cooling jacket. Shade represents reduced heat influx (though not entirely) and reduces strain on the dog’s system.
A breezy, shady spot on a warm day helps a dog even though he doesn’t perspire. Dogs can lose heat through radiation, helping offload some work from his primary cooling systems.
Water on the body allows for evaporative cooling. But that cooling mechanism works well only if airflow is plentiful and the heat being absorbed by evaporation comes from the dog, not the environment. One of the problems with older style towel wraps and chamois is that they turn into a sauna underneath because they emphasize water at the exclusion of air. Evaporative cooling is about 80% airflow, 20% water.
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Keep in mind, though, that a dog may already be suffering from heat stress before these symptoms of distress appear.
• Wide eyes
• Intense, rapid panting
• Excessive salivation
• Staggering and weakness
Try to find a product that addresses solar influx, provides enough airflow and/or emphasizes water over airflow. Remember this is not about what’s convenient or inexpensive for you.
Protecting dogs from hyperthermia is mostly about prevention and common sense. Take the right precautions, and you and your companion can relax and enjoy the summer in comfort.
SeniorPetProducts.com features dog food supplements, dog vitmins, dog beds and various other products that help the pets stay healthy as they grow older. The company has also provided an online platform for pet owners and experts to discuss issues concerning the senior pets.
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