Monday, July 2, 2012

Dog Days of Summer

Summertime can be a fun time for you and your dog.  You may be off from work and have more time to spend with your dog. Or, you may be planning a vacation with your pet  Here are some summertime tips:

Hot Weather

Here in California, it tends to get hot in August and September.  Keeping our pets cool is a high priority.  Since I have double-coated breeds, they have a lot of fur and can easily get overheated.  Some of the symptoms of overheating include:  excessive panting, drooling, difficulty breathing, increased heart and respiratory rate, weakness or collapse.  More severe symptoms can include diarrhea, vomiting and seizures.  To avoid overheating your dog, here are some tips:

1)  Walk your dog early in the morning or early evening - besides the external temperature, the pavement can get hot in the middle of the day and can burn your dog's feet.  Asphalt is even worse as the dark color absorbs more heat from the sun.  I often get questions about why their dog stops in the middle of the walk and lies down on the grass.  One of my first questions is "what time of day are you walking your dog?"

2)  Do not leave your dog in the car - I know this seems obvious but every summer there are reports of dogs dying in locked cars.  Cars, even with the windows cracked, can heat up very quickly on a hot day turning the inside of a car into an oven.  It only takes minutes for the temperature to go up 20 degrees. 

3)  Bring plenty of water on hikes - make sure you have enough hydration for both you and your dog and give your dog frequent rest stops in the shade when he/she looks tired.   Dogs have a lot of fur and only can cool themselves by panting and some limited sweating from the pads of their feet.

4) Wet your dog - if I am on a hike on a warm day,  I will often drench the back of my dogs' neck and upper back  with water to create evaporative cooling. 

5)  Keep your dogs indoors - if the inside of your house is cooler than outside, bring your dogs indoors to avoid heat stroke.  If the heat outdoors is intolerable for you then your dog is likely to feel the same way (if not more so). 

6)  Avoid intense exercise during heat waves - when we have 90+ weather, avoid intense exercise.  If your dog is elderly, overweight, has a medical condition (especially respiratory or cardiac) or very young, they are more vulnerable to the heat.

Remember, your dog has a heavy fur coat and can easily get overheated.  Imagine how hot this guy feels on a hot summer day.

Going on the Road with your pet

Traveling with your pet can be a great experience and you don't have to worry about finding the boarding facility or pet sitter.  Here are a few tips:

1) Identification and Microchipping - Make sure your dog has a secure collar with I.D. Dogs can panic in unfamiliar locations and bolt. Microchipping is also critical if you frequently travel with your pet. Lost dogs can lose their collars and most shelters and veterinarians have scanning equipment.

2) Water bowls – dogs can get dehydrated during the car ride so stop every few hours to check on their water bowls. Better yet, teach your dog to drink from a water bottle (like the type rabbits drink out of) that hooks on to the crate. I taught my older dogs to drink out of a water bottle by putting peanut butter on the nozzle. My puppy did not need any prompting.

3) Vet information – Take the number of your veterinarian as well as the phone numbers of vets in the area where you will be staying.

4) Copies of shot records – sometimes you run into a situation where you cannot find pet friendly accommodations or hotels where you cannot leave your pet unattended. In such cases you may need to put your dog in daycare if you are going to a function or will need to leave your pet for an extended period of time. Day cares require shot records so it is helpful to have them handy in case you need to board your dog. Make sure your dog is current on vaccinations especially rabies if you are going to wilderness areas.

5) Crate and Crate Cover – often I will bring extra blankets to cover the crates. Covering the crates can help quiet the dogs when they cannot settle down in a strange location. My dogs know that the blanket means they need to go to sleep.

6) Extra towels and brushes – in case your dog gets wet or dirty.

7) Flea, Tick and Heartworm Treatments– make sure your dogs are current with flea, tick and heartworm applications. Many mountainous areas and regions of the U.S. have ticks or mosquitoes that transmit heartworm. Do your research and protect your pet accordingly. Ask your veterinarian about the appropriate treatments to apply.

8) Finding Pet Friendly Accommodations – here are some of my favorite websites for finding pet-friendly accommodations:– nice search engine and photos of properties– this one has been around for a long time and has a good list of accommodations for hotels and restaurants.– provides list of vacation rentals if you would like to rent a home. Several dog friendly properties are available. 

The Creepy Crawlies

Fleat, Tick and HeartwormTreatments:  Summertime is also flea and tick season.  Make sure that you are on top of treating your dog against these external parasites.  Many areas also have mosquito-borne heartworm so check with your veterinarian about whether your area is at risk and, if so, the appropriate preventative to use. 

Removing Ticks:  Inspect your dog after hiking in tick-infested areas.  Ticks like to perch on the end of grassblades and other plants waiting to hitch a ride on the next warm-blooded creature that brushes by them.  If you have been hiking on narrow trails with a lot of brush, it is especially important to do a tick check.  Here is a link to instructions and here is a pictorial version on how to remove ticks but if you are not comfortable doing this take your dog to your veterinarian.  If your dog developes a rash after begin bitten by a tick, take your dog to the veterinarian as ticks can carry Lyme Disease.  Often keeping the removed tick inside a sealed container or jar of alcohol is a good idea in case you need to take it to the veterinarianfor testing to rule out Lyme Disease.

Mosquitos - as mentioned before, mosquitos are vectors for many diseases.  Make sure you don't have any standing water in your yard (even in the saucers underneath your potted plants) and if your area is particularly infested with mosquitos, bring your dog inside when they are active.

Hiking with Your Dog

We have many beautiful trails here in Southern California.  If you take the appropriate precautions above, you can have a great time hanging out with your dog.  Here are some good books on finding dog-friendly trails:

Los Angeles Dog Trainer:

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