Hot Dogs in the Summer
Qimmiq Tales - Feb 2004
A plastic clam shell sand pit in a shady spot is a great summer treat for a hot dog. Fill one half of the sand pit with sand and wet the sand in the morning. This will give poochie a cool bed to snooze on. Fill the other half with water and poochie can drink it, sit or paddle in it or play in it, just like a kid at the beach.
Groom your Mal as much as possible to get all loose undercoat out. An undercoat rake with reasonably long, fine, double-rowed teeth works best.
Another good idea is to buy one of the drip-system "mister" hoses used to water plants and set it out for the dogs on hot days.
Freeze water bottles full of water and put them where she lies to keep her cool.
Freeze a cup or two of water and place the blocks in your dogs water bowl in the morning to keep the water cool.
Also, in a margarine container, ice cream pottle or similar, make a nutritious soup by making a broth with chunks of fresh meat, some liver treats and a few veges and freeze the whole lot. When you go to work, remove the frozen treat from its container and place it into your Mals bowl. It will provide them with a stimulating and nutritious boredom blaster during the day that will also keep your hot dog cool.
Be realistic about your dogs weight, and put them on a diet if needed. Overweight dogs are more prone to overheating because their extra layers of fat act as insulation which traps heat in their bodies and restricts their breathing capabilities. His ribs should have a light covering but be easily felt. Rub your fingers over the back of your hand to get an idea of what his ribs should feel like. Ask your vet if you are unsure.
Don't leave them in the car (obviously). Even cars parked in the shade with windows down can become too hot for a dog, so check them regularly.
If you haven't already, invest in a large plastic or metal tub or trough for drinking water, rather than filling ordinary dog bowls for your Mal. It'll mean less refilling for you to do, and you can rest easy knowing they've definitely got water, and haven't tipped over the bowl or drank it all.
Mals with broken pigment causing pink patches of skin on the nose can get sunburnt just like a person. There are zinc sunblocks for animals available at pet shops if your dog is spending time in the sun.
Limit exercise if you are going to walk your dog during the hottest months, ensure that it is done during the early morning or evening. Remember too that a dog can easily burn it's pads on hot pavement and sand.
Encourage your Mal to enjoy swimming. A young dog who's nervous about the water might enjoy playing with a more confident dog in the water, or wearing a dog lifejacket for a while.
Heatstroke may not seem like something we need to worry about in NZ's temperate climate, but it has happened and can happen.
It is worthwhile knowing what signs to look for, and what to do. Even if you are careful with your own animals, a dog shut in a car on a summer day may need you to act before it's too late - many dogs have died unnecessarily in busy carparks as people walked by.
Heatstroke is a medical emergency. If you suspect an animal has heatstroke, you must act quickly and calmly. Have someone call a vet immediately. On the way to the vet, lower the animal's body temperature by applying towels soaked in cool water to the hairless areas of the body, applying rubbing alcohol to the dogs pads, or allowing the dog to lick ice chips and drink a small amount of water..
Often an animal will respond after a few minutes of this treatment, only to falter again with his temperature either soaring back up, or falling to below what is normal. Because of this, it is imperative to get the animal to a veterinarian immediately.
Even with emergency treatment, heatstroke can be fatal. The best cure is prevention.
? Heavy panting.
? Rapid breathing.
? Excessive drooling.
? Bright red gums and tongue.
? Standing square, or spreading out in an attempt to maintain balance.
? White or blue gums.
? Lethargy, unwillingness to move.
? Uncontrollable urination or defecation.
? Laboured, noisy breathing.