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Preparing for the hot season

Monsoon season is over, which means that ticks and fleas are getting lesser, now we can start walking our furkids for a longer period of time without worrying about rain and wet grounds!

With this in mind, you might want to know that what's coming next will also be months of dry and very hot weather, ranging from 33-35 degrees celsius daily as reported in the news. In this article we'd like to share a few tips to help keep your dog safe and healthy during this period of time. Few things that most owners might think of when fighting the hot weather - ice, air conditioning, cold treats etc., well these although helps to make one feel comfortable, are actually not the best ways to keep your dog cool, a lot of inexperienced owners always think of their dogs like human, thus applying human treatment on their pets, this is not right and you need to start changing for their sake.

Do note that this article is based on locally approved breeds and may not benefit dogs that are born to tolerate extreme climates:

Plain water

Nothing beats fresh plain water, you can add some ice to the water bowl after coming back from a long walk but it will not benefit your dog if you provide ice water every single day, doing so might even cause other side effects. Dogs can starve for a week, but they cannot survive without water for a day. Water not only helps to keep your dog hydrated, but will also help to cool it's body down, which means that the chances of getting heat stroke can be reduced with just water. Provide plenty of water and top up whenever it's empty, unless your dog has kidney or other health related problems, it is advisable to give unlimited supply of plain tap/filtered water during the day.

For owners who have long working hours, prepare 2 water bowls side by side to ensure that your dog will have plenty of water to stay hydrated, being at home does not mean that it won't be affected by the heat.

Amber hiding in the shade, telling us that the ground is too hot.

Test the ground temperature before and during walks

We wear shoes outdoors to protect our feet, but most dogs don't, and many times we forget that our dogs can easily get injured if precautions are not practiced. A simple test if you walk your dog outdoors during daytime - remove your shoes/slippers, place your feet flat on the ground for 5 seconds, and imagine this temperature going on for hours, is it too hot to walk on? If it is uncomfortable for your feet then this is definitely not the right time to walk your dog, if you are already outside, find a sheltered area or wait till the ground is cooler before continuing the walk, otherwise you will risk getting your dog's paw torn and also developing painful boils that can become infected if not treated. Most dogs cannot feel their paws especially during fast paced walks and runs, sometimes their signal might be too faint for owners to pick up too, hence injuries might only be noticed after the event. In the picture above, Amber is telling us that the ground is too hot for walks, she is trained to communicate with us using strong signals, but most dogs don't.

A general guideline is to test the ground every 30 minutes to ensure that it is safe for walks. Don't be hesitant to stop the walk or even go back home for your dog's safety, when injuries happen you not only have to spend time and money to solve the problem, your dog will also have to be confined at home for days to heal up.

Turn on air conditioning (short intervals)

No more than 8 hours a day, many think that having air conditioning system turned on the whole day is beneficial to their dogs, it's not! Air conditioning is considered a temporary relief to hot and uncomfortable weathers, it is not a cure and will not make your dog any healthier. Instead, having it turned on for long hours can cause severe skin dryness in the long run, together with chances that your dog might get cold symptoms, over dependent on cool environments, bacteria can also spread easily inside an enclosed air conditioning space, which might transmit certain bacteria and diseases to another dog staying in the same space (if one happens to fall sick).

Personally, we turn on the air conditioning system daily but not the whole day, 4 hours interval at most twice a day, we will also switch off the system in the middle of the night if it starts raining. Fans instead are advised to be turned on 24/7.

Simple and light travel bowls like this can be very useful, just find a tap water source, or simply bring the whole water bottle!

Bring a water bowl/bottle
It is very important to bring a water bowl/bottle along if you are going for long trips (more than 1 hour), not only during hot weather but also any time of the day. Every dog is different in terms of water intake and tolerance to hot climate, general guideline is to provide your dog some water every hour, lesser amount if you are going to continue exercising after drinking. Never force water into your dog's mouth, never ask your dog to drink water, when it needs water it should be drinking it willingly, force feeding may result in the dog having negative feelings towards water.

This may be cute and fun to watch, but is not suitable for outdoor activities

Keep your dog free of unnecessary accessories
Shirts, pants, necklace etc. these are unnecessary objects especially during hot weathers, dog clothing and fashion are designed mainly for human pleasure, it will be good to keep them minimal during hot weathers. If needed, singlet especially those with holes are great for runs, will not advice pants, backpacks, and neck accessories at this time of the year, it will limit the movements of the dog and cause extreme discomfort, shoes are debatable, if needed get one from good manufacturers like Ruffwear, breathable boots are great too, refrain from getting China made shoes. Do understand that dogs only sweat through their paws, they can also cool down by panting, so this does not mean that your dog can't wear shoes, just make sure it is breathable! Muzzles if needed should be of netting series, definitely a no to strap on muzzles for walks.

Avoid hours where the sun is at its strongest
12-3pm is the worst time to exercise your dog during the day, at this point of time the sun is at its strongest and harmful rays can increase the chance of skin cancer, heat stroke and sunburn.  If there's a need, walk under sheltered areas.

Best time to walk:

6am - 11am

5pm - 10pm

This is already too short (the groomer shaved without informing)

Keep your dog's coat length minimal
Many people think that the best way to keep a dog cool is to shave them down, this is not true. Dogs do not sweat through their body, their coat helps to provide natural sunscreen to protect them from getting their skin damaged, shaving down your dog's coat too short can also cause their skin to expose to diets and germs that can irritate them. A general guide is not to go under 1 inch.

Snooza bed is a good example

Cooling bed, or thin blankets
Ever seen your dog throwing away all bedding and relaxing on the floor happily? Dogs are very sensitive to heat, their body temperatures are much higher than humans on average, most of the time the cooling floor is much more comfortable that your hundred dollars branded bed. However knowing that the hard flooring is not healthy to your dog's body and joint long term wise, you might want to invest in beds that are thin and cooling, if not blankets will be a good idea too.


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