Summer is here- but remember that however you choose to spend a hot sunny day, be it a lazy afternoon sitting outside the local pub, or taking part in agility displays and competitions... it is not so great for our furry friends who can't stripe down to a T-shirt and slap on loads of sun block like us.
It is important to remember that your dog does not have the ability to cool off by sweating in the same way as humans (which, despite our best efforts with a can of antiperspirant in the underarm area, is a very effective way for us to cool down as we are pretty much covered in sweat glands and compativly hairless). Your dog only has a few sweat glands in the pads of his paws and is covered in fur.
Your dogs main method of cooling his body temperature really
is through panting (evaporation of saliva from his mouth as opposed to evaporation
of perspiration from our bodies).
So firstly he has the problem that he has a much smaller area for the evaporation process to occur, plus he is wearing a large fur coat. Although the layer of air trapped in a clean, tangle free coat with no dead undercoat may offer some insulation against heat gain, I think it's worth remembering that dogs with these types of heavy coat were breed with that coat to prevent heat loss, as they were either going to be pulling sleds or herding sheep on windy hills - and if left to his own devices a dog with a heavy coat is likely to head for the nearest patch of shade where he'd dig a nice cool scrape to lie in.
Secondly he has the problem that panting is an action, and that doing something that is a physical muscular action actually produces heat. (For example think how, when you are cold, rubbing your hands together warms them up).
Thirdly effective cooling through panting needs a lot of saliva, which means you dog needs to drink. This may sound obvious but if you think about your dog you will realise that often when he's really panting alot and you offer him water he won't drink (interestingly, this is apparently because breathing is number one priority - just a bit higher that quenching your thirst). But reasons aside - hopefully you can see the potential for you dog to overheat long before you.
Here are some things to remember and ideas that hopefully will help keep your dog cool.
Your dog is likely to be affected by heat quicker if he
Another great way to help your dog cool down and rehydrate is to make Pupsickles.
Pupsickles are frozen stuffed Kongs.
Firstly you need to block the hole at the bottom of the Kong, so the liquid will stay in.
To block the hole push a small amount of peanut butter into the small hole. Using your finger or the end og#f a spoon smooth off and place int he freezer to harden.
(If you dog is allergic to nuts use something like liverpaste)
Make some chicken stock.
Take the bones from your roast chicken, place in a large pan and cover with water. Gently boil for an hour. All the goodness from the leftovers is absorbed into the water, which looks cloudy and soup-like.
Sieve the stock to remove any bones and allow to cool.
(Or you could cheat and use a stock cube)
Fill the prepared Kong with the cooled stock. Leave a gap at the top (avoids spills).
Place the filled Kongs in the freezer - standing upright. Allow them to set overnight. Next day you have lovely cold treats for your dog.
Do not give these to your dog on carpeted or delicate surfaces, as they may leak as they warm up whilst being eaten.
Ideally hose your dog off and give him the pupsickle to eat in a shady part of the garden, whilst you enjoy the fact that you don't have to mow the lawn as the sun has scorched it to a crisp!
Instead of chicken stock you could experiment with other fillings your dogs likes - let us know any successful recipes.
More K9 cookery can be found on the Mr MuddyPaws link.
We hope your dog enjoys the pupsickles, however please consider any allergies or health problems your dog may have when making recipies for your dog.
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