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4 Tips for the “Dog Days of Summer”
Guest Writer: Rachel Tohill
This summer seems hotter than any I can remember in the recent past. The heat index has been hitting the danger zone by 10:00 AM here in North Carolina, and we are not feeling much relief until the sun goes down. With that in mind, I wanted to give you some tips about keeping your dog healthy and happy in this heat.
Paw pads on pavement… ouch!
When the first dog I ever owned was a puppy, I made a horrible “mom mistake”! We went for a walk in our neighborhood one hot summer day, and when we got home she rushed to her water bowl and stepped right in to it to cool off her burning feet! Here’s what I learned after that searing lesson:
- Asphalt temperatures can be almost double the air temperature. So, if it is 80 degrees outside, it’s possible for the sidewalks to reach a sizzling 140 degrees. At 131 degrees, an egg can fry in 5 minutes.
- A dog’s paw pads are essentially as tough as the soles of our feet. Try walking barefoot on the sidewalk before taking your dog out. If it’s too hot for you, it’s too hot for your pup.
- If you can press your hand to the asphalt for 7 seconds or more without being uncomfortable, the sidewalk should be safe for your dog’s paws. However, it will get much hotter throughout the day so early morning or late evening walks are best.
- Try to walk in a location that has grass or dirt along the sidewalk so that your dog can step onto the cooler surfaces if necessary.
Puppy Pool and Popsicles
There is nothing more fun than a kiddy pool and a homemade freezer pop on a hot summer day! Most dogs love to splash in the pool and have a chance to cool off while enjoying the outdoors. You can find very affordable pools even at the pet supply store. Just fill the pool about half way and invite your dog in for a romp. After play time, make sure to drain the water.
My dogs love popsicles and ice cubes. In fact, a Frosty Paw (found in the popsicle section in the grocery store) is the one treat they get that calls for the “grab and go.” They grab it and skulk away to a private little corner of treat heaven. You can find lots of recipes online for homemade doggy freezer pops; just make sure not to include grapes, onions (including onion powder found in some baby food), chocolate, or other food ingredients that are toxic to dogs. One of our favorite recipes is listed below:
Peanut Butter Popsicles
1 cup peanut butter
1 banana, mashed
Water as needed
Mix ingredients together and spread into a Kong, cookie cutters or popsicle molds, or simply spoon “blobs” on to a cookie sheet. Put cookie sheet or toys/molds in to the freezer overnight. Serve the next day after your pool party!
The Dangers of Humidity
No one likes high temperatures coupled with high humidity. For our furry friends, humidity is even more dangerous than it is for us. Because dogs “sweat” through their paws and cool themselves by panting to release moisture from their lungs, high moisture levels in the air can prevent dogs from cooling down. If a dog can’t cool off in the “outdoor sauna” created by high humidity levels, his temperature can skyrocket and he can suffer from heatstroke. And, trying to “dry out” the air with a fan may work for humans but it not as effective for dogs because they expel most of their body heat through their paws.
If you think your dog is overheated and can’t cool down, get him to an air conditioned room, wrap him in a damp cool towel and make sure his body temperature stays below 104. Although heatstroke is fairly uncommon for dogs, some pooches with health conditions or limited air passageways can be more susceptible to heat stroke. If your dog appears lethargic, dizzy, or has a lack of appetite, contact your veterinarian.
Leave Your Dog at Home
If the outdoor temperature is above 65 degrees, it is too hot for your dog to be left in a car. Just don’t do it. Enough said.
Basically, be safe out there this summer. Manage the care of your dog as you would yourself or your kids: hydration, skin protection, and cool shelter are keys to your dog’s health and safety. Enjoy the dog days of summer and look forward to the crisp autumn September air!
Guest Writer: Rachel Tohill
This weekend, my family is puppy sitting a sweet rescue pup who is doing all the right things to make us fall in love with her. She is snuggly, playful, gentle, responsive, and a ball of total love. She also happens to be sleeping through the night and hasn’t had one potty accident in the house. We are joking that she is campaigning very hard to suck us in and convince us that our home is the perfect place for her. Deep down, we know that if we adopt her we will probably face all the puppy things – chewing, potty training, leash pulling, quirky adolescent dog behaviors, vet bills, and the list goes on – but none of it seems to matter because she has such a seamless campaign strategy. It made me wonder: what if puppies had formal job interviews?
The Puppy Interview
Interviewer: Hello, Pup E. Dog. It’s nice to meet you today. Can I get you a refreshment before we get started?
Pup: No one has ever asked me that before! Heck yeah! I’ll take a peanut butter-filled Kong if you have it.
Interviewer: Very well. Now let’s get started… What brings you in for this opportunity?
Pup: (licking peanut butter, licking peanut butter, licking peanut butter…)
Interviewer: I noticed as you walked through the waiting area, you passed a smattering of toys, bones, balls, and sticks, but you opted to trot in to my office with one of my $200 running shoes. Can you explain that choice?
Pup (investigating the depths of the Kong before responding…): Can I sit on your lap and let you rub my velvety soft ears? If ears aren’t your thing, can I interest you in a warm, pink belly?
Interviewer (trying not to be distracted by all the softness…): Are you familiar with crate training?
Pup: Oh, yes sir.
Interviewer: Can you tell me more about your knowledge of and experience with crate training?
Pup: (resting his head on Interviewer’s shoulder and nuzzling his muzzle against Interviewer’s neck…) I have seen crates and heard that some dogs sleep in them. I may or may not bark like a maniac for hours on end when someone puts me in one…I can’t remember…Now, while we chat, let’s gaze in to each other’s eyes. Have you noticed that my eyes are like deep pools of warm chocolate love?
Interviewer: Ok, Pup E. Dog, I’m going to need you to step off my lap and “Sit!”.
Pup: Did you say scamper around the room and then jump at your knees?
Interviewer: No. Sit!
Pup: Did you say pull on your pant leg with my teeth and wag my tail so hard my butt wiggles?
Interviewer: No. Sit!
Pup: Got a treat?
Interviewer: I’m not seeing any evidence on your resume of continuing education courses or certifications… Would you be willing to enroll in an obedience class if the company paid for it?
Pup: I am willing to follow you to the ends of the Earth. If that’s where this thing you refer to as “obedience” takes place, let’s go as long as we’re together.
Interviewer: I have one last question for you, Pup E. Dog: if you were to join our team, describe for me your perfect workday.
Pup: Yes sir. If you don’t mind, let me pause to squat and pee pee on your rug…
Now, to answer your question, my perfect workday would include a set eating schedule, and I would never feel hungry again. It would include time with you and all the members of your company, as much as you can give me. It would include a warm bed. It would include a walk through the woods, children to meet, and a tennis ball or a stick if you have those…but don’t go out of your way for me. Most of all, my perfect workday would include the security to know that we are always going to be together and your company has no interest in replacing me or eliminating my position. As I grow into adulthood, I may occasionally go through some things, like I might get nervous around new people sometimes or I might need to release some pent up energy if you have a busy week and can’t take me for as many walks as we would like. So, my perfect day would also include compassion, forgiveness, and patience, which are three things I will be able to give your company in abundance. My perfect workday would be filled with the right balance of work, fun, naps, and love. Thank you for considering me for this position. If you think your workplace will not be my forever home, I will continue to submit my resume at other places of employment. Now, if we don’t get me in my leash and head outside, you’re going to have a pile of poo on your floor within seconds.
Interviewer (scrambling for the leash): Thanks for coming by, Pup. I would like to offer you the position and my commitment that you will have a Lifetime Contract with our company.
I would like to welcome you to the big ‘ol rock. It may look like a misplaced chunk of stone, in our yard, to the bystander. What do you do with a massive rock…sit back and watch. What happens on the rock is a blissful tranformation of energy. If you want therapy, attention, love, affection, inner peace, joy, comfort, laughter, and more you will be drawn to the rock too.
This rock has provided me with great pleasure being able to see others enjoy the relationships they form on the ROCK. My dear friend, Meredith, would come over not to see me, but to spend time on the rock. She knew the benefits of the ROCK! I am pretty certain many children will remember the ROCK as a special place too. Here are some snapshots of my family on the ROCK. I am not a blogger, so I will let the photos tell the story.
When I began planning for my eldest daughter’s birthday I started the way I always have: by asking her what she would like to do for her special day. She’s not hard to figure out – she loves animals and she always has so it came as no surprise that she wanted to have a party that involved animals in some way. Here’s the thing though, I’m not an outsourced party kind of gal. I mean that in the least offensive/judgmental way possible. I think outsourced parties are grand and seem to be WAY less stressful than the elaborate in-home parties that some people throw. Our parties have always been at home and they’ve always been pretty simple but I had no idea how on earth I would be able to give her an animal (specifically dog and cat) birthday party. She mentioned the possibility of incorporating the animal shelter somehow but a few calls to the local shelters later confirmed that a shelter party was not a plausible option. It was at that point in the party brain-storming process that I remembered seeing a woman and her dog do an obedience demonstration at my daughters school. More specifically, I remember her mentioning that she did summer camps at which she would teach children how to approach dogs, behave around dogs and furthermore train dogs. One quick call to the awesome Union Academy receptionist later I had a name and number. That name was Amy and the business name was K9’s Unleashed. I called Amy to be sure we could work something out and then I pitched the idea to Kennedy and the rest is history!
Working with Amy to determine what types of things Kennedy and her party guests might enjoy was fun and she was very flexible in the planning which was nice because I, of course, wanted Kennedy to be thrilled with the end result. Luckily, each party guest had a dog of their own so they were all very excited about learning more about dogs and as an added bonus were all comfortable being around dogs. I loved that even though Amy new all these girls had dogs – she still went through the basics with each of them in a fun and interactive way. Questions like “how do you approach a dog for the first time?” and “how should you talk to a dog” were great openers to get acquainted with the girls and to determine if their inclinations were correct or not. Once everyone knew how to “meet and greet” new dogs, she let her dogs out and into the gated party area. Giggles and wagging tails abounded and we were off to a great start!
The girls were able to learn about canine agility drills and were even able to partake in running the dogs through some of the drills which they all LOVED. They learned how to appropriately use the leash to lead the dogs and were able to learn how to coax a dog through open tunnels and tunnels that appear to be closed at one end – emphasizing how important them communicating with the dog is and how important it is that the dog trust them as his leader.
The girls loved the agility part of the party but a close favorite was when Amy talked with them about enriching the lives of their dogs at home just as she does with her dogs there. She showed them several enrichment toys and how they work. She taught them a really neat trick with a muffin pan, tennis balls and treats (something each of them could go home and try with their own dog). Each girl got to take a turn picking the dog and toy they wanted to work with and they got to really see these dogs work while playing and it was really fun and interesting.
After the party we made homemade dog treats and everyone went home with the recipe and some dog treats for their beloved pooch. The recipe we used was compliments of Amy. She really will try to work in what seems best fitting for your child. I knew Kennedy would love the agility and she loves to cook so making dog treats was perfect for her. Maybe your child would prefer a craft and Amy can do that too – just ask and she will do her best to make your party a success!
If you’ve got a dog lover at home – K9’s Unleashed would be a pawsitively perfect place for a party!
The new K9s Unleashed site is up! We still have a few tweaks to work through but we’re getting there. Check back here shortly for updates!