The Dog Days of Summer

By Brody Fletcher
TLA’s Canine Correspondent

Is it hot outside, or is it just me? I know, I know, it is summer in Savannah. Still, what’s a dog to do when the mercury seeks to escape out the top of the thermometer? Sure, those are the days that it is nice to curl up inside under a nice air conditioner vent for a snooze, but then again it is difficult to enjoy fully our beautiful summer days from the inside. Here are some tips for keeping your fur-coated family members cool when it’s doggone hot!

Being good Southerners (transplanted or otherwise), the traditional Mint Juleps on the veranda may sound good to those of you bipedal who are of legal age, but the fur-footed among us would be happy with water. If you are out and about away from home for any length of time, don’t forget to bring some H2O for us. I, for one, am quite happy to drink water right out of the bottle, but bowls are helpful. There are plenty of travel “thingys” designed specifically for hydrating hounds, and you can decide what works for you and yours. In a pinch, cupped hands work for lap dogs to lap up a drink.

I realize that a reminder to drink water does not rank up there with a “stop the presses” scoop. It’s more or less a no-brainer. But on hot days, sometimes people forget the needs of those of us who cannot speak for themselves. So this is me, speaking for us: “Woof”!

Lest you think I am barking mad for simply stating the obvious, allow me to direct your attention toward lesser-known ways of cooling off a hot dog. First, there are the signs to look for that show that we may have overexerted ourselves and need to cool off. Our tongue is a good barometer for measuring when we need to cool off. The further it sticks out, the hotter we are. You see, dogs, unlike humans, don’t sweat. Our tongues act like a radiator. It’s all very scientific, and I didn’t like school all that much. Suffice it to say, if our tongues are letting it all hang out, we are trying to cool ourselves off. In addition to the tongue, we take quick, shallow breaths (which has to do with airflow, evaporation, and the whole radiator thing – it’s all very physiologically scientific). Our gums get pale and dry, and while it may seem counterintuitive, we may drool more. These are signs we need shade, water, and cooling down.

As you can imagine, those of us with nose-to-tail fur do not cool down the same way as those whose epidermis shows. You leash-holders may like a cool, moist towel on the back of your necks, whereas we leash-pullers would benefit far more from a wet towel on the pads of our feet. If you have an extra cool cloth, and your canine seems extra hot, applying it under the armpits and around the ears wouldn’t hurt.

I’ll correct the misnomer that just because we wear a fur coat we get hotter faster. I, for one, sport a Golden’s double coat. It acts like a Bedouin’s robe, expanding to provide shade and ventilation in the heat and contracting to keep me warm when it’s cold. Long hair or short, unless you’re a Mexican Hairless, all dogs have hair. We can’t change into shorts and short sleeves as you can, but that is OK. We were made this way, and we’re used to it. There are, however, some breeds who were bred to function best in the cold -- and Savannah in the summer ain’t cold. Socrates may have said, “Know thyself,” but in this case, it would be best if you know your dog.

Oh, one last thing, other than the whole “hot car” deal -- while we are on the subject of hydrating, while you are putting some crushed or shaved ice in your Mint Julep glass to enjoy better whiling away a hot afternoon on the porch, would you consider adding some ice to my water bowl? That would help me better enjoy the dog days of summer!

This article was originally published by The Landings Association on their website.

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