Summer’s here and we all love to get out and enjoy the sunshine, including our doggy friends too. BUT remember that dogs can die from heatstroke. Veterinarian, Shea Cox. a member of the ER staff at PETS Referral Center in Berkeley, California says “Sunny and 70 can mean sunny and deadly. Dogs depend on rapid breathing (panting) to keep cool, exchanging their warm body air for cooler environmental air but if the air temperature is close to body temperature, this process is no longer efficient and dogs can succumb to heatstroke in a relatively short time”. Heatstroke can occur if dogs are left in cars, even “with the window cracked”, if left outside without shade, if over-exercised in hot or humid weather. Other factors include obesity and certain breeds such as Pekingese, Pug, Lhasa Apso, Boston Terrier or Bulldog with short faces interfering with their ability to pant.
A dog’s normal body temperature is 101.5 degree +/- 1 degree Fahrenheit. A temperature higher than 105 is a life-threatening emergency. If your dog appears distressed and restless, pants excessively, drools from the nose and/or mouth and becomes unsteady on his feet with gums turning blue or bright red he must be seen by your veterinarian immediately. Meanwhile, move him to a cooler place and direct a fan on him, start to cool the body with cool wet towels on the back of the neck, and the armpit and groin regions. Plus wet the earflaps and paws with cool water. Don’t use cold water or ice, don’t attempt to force water into your pet’s mouth.
We want everybody to enjoy the summer so here’s some ideas on how to make sure your Backyard is the perfect place for all the family to enjoy.
Whether you have just one or a whole pack of dogs it’s great to see them happily romping in the backyard and if you take some time to make sure your yard is pet-friendly too then you can all make the best of the summer. Before you do anything else, check that the yard is secure to keep your dog happy and safe whether you’re enclosing the whole yard or you’ve just got a dog run. Check too that there are no dangerous plants or landscaping. Did you know that azaleas, lilies and mums can be dangerous if your dog eats them. Check with your veterinarian or the ASPCA for list of plants that could irritate or even kill your pet. You might not even think about chemicals but many of us might not realise that cocoa mulch, though it looks great can cause the same bad reactions as chocolate so think about your landscaping materials. Lawns are popular but your dog may destroy it if he’s a “digger”. If you go for artificial turf, watch it doesn’t get too hot for tender paws! Concrete, brick, flagstone, and smooth rocks or pebbles are all good choices.
What else does your dog need?
Number one is … water. In hot weather we all need a cool, refreshing drink and that goes for our dogs too. How about adding a water feature that your dog can use too – a splash fountain maybe or even a small pond or pool if you have a water-loving dog. But make sure it’s safe with shallow steps or sloping sides so that dogs can easily get out if they fall in by accident.
Number two is … shade and shelter. Did you know that just like us, dogs can get sunburned and even suffer from heatstroke so they need to be able to get out of the sun too. If you’re lucky you may have a large tree providing a shady area over your yard. If not, how about a Shade Sail or overhead tarp covering part of the yard. Even better, add a doghouse too. They’ve come a long way from those plastic boxes and now there’s a huge range available at your local pet store or online.
Number three … the sky’s the limit! A tired dog is a good dog but a bored or unexercised dog will surely look for trouble. Provide as large a space as possible for your dog to run and chase. Paths are great as dogs love to prowl and explore. You could even create his own fun play area – get ideas from dog play courses and use plants and hardscaping to create obstacles and weave around. Add some balance beams to walk on or tunnels to roam through which could be your pet’s snoozing spot – even dogs need to get away from it all sometimes