Pete The Vet has the answers of what you should do if you have a dog thats out and about in warm weather.
So it’s the summer time the living is easy, well sir sam cooke song said isn’t living easy for pets? It can be, summer time can be a great time for dogs. They can really enjoy life, the long break days so you can walk your dog at 6 in the morning or 9 o’clock at night. The outdoors are bright and pleasant temperatures and it’s just a lovely time to be out and about. So yes, summer time can be great but there are some tips that you should remember to make sure that it’s safe and enjoyable. And I think the first thing is the sun, what about the sun, how can that have an impact on dogs? Well most dogs are not bothered by it at all but what I do see from time to time is that white dogs like to sun bathe and that’s where I see an issue.
In particular a lot of white dogs for some reason, they like to roll over in the sun and go like this and enjoy the raise on their tummy, now that doesn’t matter for much of the body but their actual belly where there isn’t much fur, that can get sun burned. So if you’ve got a white dog that likes rolling back in the sun, then you have to use sun block on them. That just means literally smearing waterproof total sun block on the hairless bits of their skin underneath and that will stop them from getting sun burned. In cats it’s a different issue, they are prone to cancer on their ear tip and nose and they have to sunblock put there but for most dogs that’s not an issue. A few dogs get particular skin diseases affecting their nose and ears and they might need sun block but that’s quite rare and your vet will guide you through that, so that’s the direct effect of the sun. One about the heat, heats a really big issue for dogs in the summer because as you probably know dogs can’t sweat.
We sweat armpits, all over our body, our arms, we sweat and when we sweat, the moisture evaporates from our skin carrying heat with it and that keeps us cool. But dog’s can’t do that, the only way they can lose heat is by water evaporating from their tongue, that’s why they pant. When they pant they are pushing air across their tongue backwards and forwards very quickly and the water on their tongue evaporates and as the water evaporates it takes heat with it. I don’t think you know if you put your hand in front of a dog panting and you felt the warmth of their breathe, it’s really hot, they lose a lot of heat by panting. That has several implications, the first thing is it means they need lots and lots of water in the summer because they are losing water from their tongue and they have to drink to replace that and what it also means is that they are prone to overheating more than other animals. What that means is that you can’t leave a dog in a place where it’s likely to become overheating because they will get dangerously overheated.
And the one that everyone knows about is not leaving your dog in the car because the air space that comes into the car is restricted, sunlight comes from the windows, heats up and the dog in the car is producing heat from it’s body and losing heat from his tongue and so the air around him gets hotter and hotter and hotter and hotter and then dogs die of heat stroke and everybody knows that yet still every year you hear stories of dogs dying in cars so for that reason you need to just doubly remember it. but another common cause of heat stroke that a lot of folk don’t realize is when dogs exercise, their muscles produce loads of heat. So if you take your dog out in the middle of a sunny day and you let them run for ages as well as their body heat being produced, they are also getting heat onto their body from the sun and they can lose only so much heat by panting and so again the temperature goes up and up and up. I recently had a phone call from a friend who was walking his black Labrador in the middle of a sunny day and he said my dog just collapsed.
He seems bright but he just collapsed and he seems to be panting all the time. What could be going on? and I said to them your dog is suffering from heat stroke, you need to get him cooled down as rapidly as possible. And I told them to pick up their dog and carry it to a near by stream and put your dog in a stream and put lots of water on him to cool it down otherwise heat stroke can become a vicious circle and the dog gets hotter and hotter and hotter lying there in the sun and they end up getting damaged internal organs because of the increased body temperature. It’s far far better to prevent by not exercising your dog in a full heated day. If you want to take your dog out during the summer time, do it in the early hours before 9 in the morning or after 5 in the evening when it’s a bit cooler and your dog shall not suffer from any heat stroke in the same way. So that’s the sun and the heat those are two really important issues to deal with.
And there are other summer issues that you need to think about, well one of them is what are the sort of exercises you should do with your dog because you’ve got all this extra time coz of the long days you get to walk your dog, you should think about how you interact with your dog and the thing you must know not to do is to throw sticks and I’ve talked about that before as well but sticks can injure dogs, I’ve seen digs die on the spot after chasing a stick. What happens is very simply the stick is thrown, it lands in the ground like this, like a javelin, with the sharp end of the stick sticking up, the dog runs after the stick, goes to grab it and as it goes to grab it the stick stays where it is and the dog moves forward and look the dog gets stabbed at the back of his throat.
I’ll never forget one dog, I rushed to the scenes, I got an emergency call from the owner and the lady was standing there over the body of her dog, the dog had bled out from the wound on the back of his throat and the dog just lying there dead and the poor distraught woman was there beside her dog just hugging it and she had done a simple innocent thing by throwing a stick for her dog, not realizing the risk. So just don’t take that risk, If you’re going to throw something for your dog and it’s great to do that, throw something safe. My favorite thing to use a ball in a stick chuck it thing you know those ball launches and your dog can chase a ball happily for hours, you don’t need sticks at all. Yes you will have much more time to play with your dog during the summer months but make sure you do it safely.