Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Dog Parks and Summer Heat Waves

Taking your dog to a dog park is a great way to exercise and socialize your canine companion. Dog parks offer fresh air, open space, and freedom—a chance for your dog to be a dog.  That being said, not all dogs adore the dog park – some, like Bear, are seasonal rompers while others can usually go all day any day. 
I recently got into a discussion with a fellow pet-parent at the park who commented about how absent I had been lately.  My answer to her was rather simplistic – it’s simply too hot and humid for Bear to get any real enjoyment out of a run at the park.  She seemed a little sceptical of this, but it’s the dog-darned truth.

Dogs cannot sweat to cool down like people can. They can sweat a little through their paw pads, but the main way dogs cool down is by panting. Given cool shade and water to drink, will dogs "know" when to stop and take a rest while at the beach or dog park?
The quick answer to this question is "no" -- many dogs will not stop on their own when actively playing or fetching, until they have to. On a hot day, the time between having fun and heatstroke can be very short. The time is even shorter in high humidity.

Our local dog park does not provide a source of clean, drinkable water and while all the pet-parents in our community happily lug 2 and 4 litre jugs of water in for everyone to share, it is often not enough for the larger dogs.  You also need to take into consideration the thickness of your dog’s coat.  Bear has a double coat of hair and that fuzzy down-like insulation that keeps him warm in the winter.  In the summer, the thinner, shinier hair in his coat helps keep some of the heat off his back, but that insulating coat of fluff can be almost suffocating. 
That isn’t to say that we never go to the park in the summer.  We do. 
We just wait for the days that are a little cooler, the days with a breeze that helps carry away some of the heat and humidity. 

The import thing is that you know your dog.  Bear loves to play and romp and run like mad in the winter, but in the summer he’ll only muster up the energy to run and romp well after the sun has gone down, or if we visit the beach. 

Just remember, no matter how your pooch plays in the summer, keep a close eye on him.  Don’t let him overexert himself and make sure to keep him well hydrated. 

Keep your tails wagging

Bear’s P4ws

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