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Crucial to be mindful of your dog’s needs

OPINION by Corbet Deary | July 29, 2022 at 4:00 a.m.

I recently wrote an article pertaining to the adverse effects that heat can have on humans and tell-tale signs that we are on the verge of heat related illness.

I think it is important to remind folks that our pets are also in danger of falling prey to excessive heat, as well. But there is one grave difference. Generally speaking, we have the ability to seek cooler conditions and fluids upon recognizing that we're overheating.

Many pets, on the other hand, are not privy to that luxury. They are sometimes contained in an area where they cannot seek shelter from the intense sun. And in the worst cases they are left without any source of water. And in turn, the outcome is often grim, to say the least.

Don't get me wrong, I am convinced that most owners would not purposely pose harm on their dog. Instead, it's the result of an unawareness that our pets, too, are far from immune to the adverse effects of excessive heat.

Of course, some pets are most susceptible to heat related illnesses. One should be mindful that geriatrics, obesity and pre-existing health issues lend to greater odds of falling prey to the summertime conditions.

However, it is equally as important to understand that some breeds are predisposed to heat related illnesses as a result of their physical characteristics. Some breeds naturally have respiratory issues, even in the best of conditions. Others, on the other hand, are extremely large while others sport extremely thick coats.

But even the most healthy of dogs are in danger, regardless of breed, stature and characteristics. That in mind, I'll share a few tips that might up their odds of going unscathed during the brunt of summer.

Let's first address those which are most predisposed to heat related illness. Those who have dogs of which fall into the aforementioned list of reasons they might be most susceptible to heat related illness should consider providing them with an environment where they are never in intense heat for more than ten minutes. In fact, I would strongly suggest allowing them to stay in the house, or in some type of a controlled environment. In fact, I would suggest only allowing them outdoors long enough to relieve themselves and returning them back inside -- especially during the daylight hours, when the heat is most intense.

Not only should they have access to fresh water while indoors, but they should also be privy to a water source while outdoors.

Okay, now let's address those dogs with a clean bill of health and are not breeds that are predisposed to heat related issues. Those falling in this category can safely remain outside during the entire day, in the event that steps have been taken to ensure they have ample shade and constant access to fresh water.

So what to do? Well, some property is naturally shaded by the canopy above. However, there are sometimes cases when shade must be provided. Of course they might have a dog house, but try to imagine how hot it gets in these structures, especially if they are not protected from the sun. That being said, one might consider pitching a canopy and leaving it out throughout the entire summer. Not only can they seek shade under the canopy, but they will also benefit from any breeze that might blow throughout the day.

There is yet another benefit to a canopy. One can see their dog, and in turn, might notice any heat-related issues in a more timely manner. And one can rest assured that time is of essence when it comes to successfully treating heat related illnesses.

Okay, now let's address hydration. Of course, it is essential to provide a constant water source at all times -- ideally, cool and fresh water protected from direct sunlight to prevent increased water temperatures during the hottest part of the day. But one might consider going one step farther and providing them with means of cooling themselves.

A small plastic swimming pool that can be purchased at the local box store will suffice. Of course, some dogs will not show any interest in playing in the water. But there are others that will naturally gravitate toward and play in the pool on a regular basis.

I am aware that protecting one's dog from heat-related illness during the brunt of summer can prove somewhat of a chore. But I am also acutely aware of the aftermath of not providing for one's pet during the brunt of summer.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not pointing fingers at anyone. I understand that there are cases when dogs fall prey to the heat, in spite of protective measures. But the odds of finding your dog in distress during the brunt of summer is lessened exponentially when they are provided with the proper environment and are privy to a constant source of water.

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