Last year (perhaps annually) I wrote about heat stroke in dogs. The messages and diagnostic information bears repeating. First and most importantly, your puppies and senior citizens have much less ability to regulate temperature. Any dog can succumb to heat exhaustion. Let’s review the parameters. A dog who tires easily, seems exhausted or is panting excessively could be in overheat danger.
Dogs suffering from the heat can be nauseous, exhibit inappetence, can vomit or collapse, quite frankly like you or myself if either of us becomes overheated. Collapse or incoordination is always a medical emergency. Remember that your veterinarian and his/her knowledgeable advice is only a phone call away.
Dogs that don’t have the advantage of air conditioning can be made more comfortable with the use of fans, ice beds, being hosed down or swimming. Care must be taken to make sure that your dogs’ coats are dried after these refreshing “July baths.” Moist, damp haircoats can lead to hot spots (moist dermatitis), the bane of many a long, hot summer.
There’s nothing wrong with making your dog’s meals more palatable if they go off feed. Unless a food allergy or digestive issue excludes it, additions of cooked chicken breast, turkey breast, lean drained hamburger, spoons of a canned product, tuna fish, cooked eggs and/or broth can help a struggling Sampson. Some dogs refuse their regular meals, but will eagerly consume their dog biscuits. This hot weather may necessitate us “giving in” to taste preferences. You may need to adjust feeding times to earlier on in the day, or later in the evening. It goes without saying that fresh water must always be available.
Many of my pool-owning friends and clients relish their cooling dips with their canine companions. The American Kennel Club puts out a simple outline for acclimating a dog to their soon-to-be-desirable backyard pond.
• Start slowly: Even retrievers and water dogs can be apprehensive or reluctant to tackle their first swimming lesson. Positive reinforcement rules the process, and as always, less is more. Some dogs wade for weeks before they build up the courage to doggie paddle.
• Don’t let your dogs overexert, even though you think it’s safe because they’re in the water.
• You can support the body of a swimming newbie, while they learn how their own dog-paddle will keep them afloat.
• Dogs must be taught to use the steps or an appropriate ladder to exit the pool. These exit lessons need to be repeated (remember, 1,123 times), so that you and they can have some element of security with the process.
• Chlorine does a job on haircoats. Rinse, rinse, rinse — same with pond, lake or ocean water.
• I can’t imagine not blow-drying my dogs after their swim. A damp coat can harbor a number of skin related sins, as well as a potential for ear infections — though I must say that my first German Shepherd Dog Val-Don’s Urram CD spent year after year of her summers diving off a 12-foot bridge into an old mill pool. I probably wasn’t as meticulous then as I am now, but she never had any skin or ear issues — better safe than sorry.
Let’s hope for a moderation in weather.
Feel free to call us with any questions at 518-828-6044, or visit our website at www.cghs.org. Stop down and see us at 125 Humane Society Road, off Route 66 (about a mile south of the intersection with Route 9H) in Hudson. Our hours are Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., closed on Wednesday and Sunday. The food bank is open to any from the public in need of pet food or for those wishing to donate food anytime during business hours. All of our cats and kittens are “Furrever Free” with all expenses paid. Spay/neuter clinics for cats are $65 male or female, including a rabies vaccination and a 5-in-1 feline distemper combination vaccination. Nail clipping services are available every Saturday from 10 to 11 a.m. at the shelter, no appointment necessary, for a donation of $5 for cats and $10 for dogs.
Charlene Marchand is the Chairperson of the Columbia-Greene Humane Society/SPCA Board of Directors. She may be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.