Barking Blondes: Mad dogs and Englishmen… How do we our dogs cool?
Mad dogs and Englishmen… go out in the mid day sun. OK, so how do we keep our dogs cool?
Whilst most of us have ventured into shorts and summer garb, our four-legged friends are panting their way through the heat wave in fur coats.
Unlike us they can’t take layers off, and they can only lose heat from their mouth and their paw-pads. Hence they pant like steam trains in the sun, and find walking on hot paving unbearable.
Dogs growing up in the Mediterranean know what to expect. Their bodies have been trained to deal with heat and will follow a routine such as early morning walks and a siesta in the shade in the afternoon. Or remain indoors with the air con. They understand that an evening walk may mean less sun but the pavements have retained the full heat of the day and for paws, is akin to walking on hot coals.
However, here in Blighty, this week’s temperatures have taken us by surprise with the plight of our pets again making headlines. Dogs left in cars. Dogs dying of dehydration in parks.
Matilda our Bulldog is a brachycephalic breed. This means she is flat faced like a Pug, Boston Terrier or a Frenchie. Matilda’s breathing is restricted by a massively compressed upper jaw. It compromises her airflow and inner cooling system, making it hard for her to cool down.
Molly, our miniature bull terrier, has a well defined upper jaw but her dark colouring is a magnet for the sun, heating her up in minutes. As we have mentioned before, the increasing popularity of dogs and hence the lure of the “hound pound” means there are plenty of cooling gadgets on offer.
The simplest is the Wet T-shirt. Custom built for mutts it locks in coolness, especially around the chest and as long as is topped up with water frequently then the animal will really benefit. The simple process of evaporation means their bodies and vital organs stay cool.
Ice treats cool the dog’s tongue immediately speeding up the cooling process. Doggy ice cream is a recent addition to the hound pound market. Billy & Margot ice treats is non-dairy and packed with fruit for a low fat, healthy cooling treat. But home-made doggy ice lollies are easy using a KONG stuffed with chicken stock and frozen. Or just mash a banana and freeze in the groovy ‘beehive’ hollow toy for a banana ‘sorbet’.
We use juicy cooling summer fruits – like chopped watermelon and strawberries as treats for a quick burst of water and antioxidants. Its important to take a bottle of water everywhere with you and monitor a dogs drinking – even add water to their dinner to make sure they’re taking in enough fluids.
There is also a new app alarm on the market that will alert you when the specific room or car, where your dog is, hits a certain temperature. Dogs die in hot cars hits and cases hit the news every year, when will we learn that the intense ‘greenhouse’ effect kills? Dogs can become seriously dehydrated in only six minutes left in a vehicle in the sun. And dogs journeying on the back seat or boot won’t get the full effect of the air conditioning at the front causing overheating as the sun beams down on the car’s roof and windows.
A new human grade cool mat is a great idea for travelling in the car. It cools the dogs from the underside up. You can even, as one caller to our radio show suggested, shave the fur on the underside of a long coated dog, so they enjoy the benefit of a marble floor! That’s if you are luck enough to have one.
‘Barking Blondes’ by Anna Webb & Jo Good, published by Hamlyn, £12.99
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