What to Know About Your Dog Being Outside in the Summer Heat
I was in Okeechobee last week installing a Dog Guard Out of Sight Fencing® System for a new client and his French Bulldog, Buster. They moved into their house a few months ago, and even though the entire property is fenced with a “regular fence”, Buster has no problem going right through the fence posts or under low spots in the fence. They didn’t want to replace the fence because they liked the way it looked and there were nice shrubs around the fence that would be damaged or destroyed if they did anything like that. The underground fence was the perfect choice. I installed the dog fence with absolutely no damage to any of their shrubs and completely out of sight. Buster quickly learned that the fence was not a place that he wanted to visit. It was a win-win for everybody. As I was finishing up our training, my client had another question. We were finally getting into the sticky-nasty-hot-humid Florida Summer and he was wondering how Buster would be outside now that he wasn’t going to be able to escape the property.
I was really happy to hear that my client took notice of this situation and was more than happy to lend my experience of being a dog trainer for over eleven years and having trained over 3,500 dogs. Heat stroke and other forms of overheating are epidemic among dogs during Florida’s “dog days of summer”. Short snouted dogs, such as the French Bulldog are especially prone to overheating.
First, I wanted to give my client a clear example of how Buster feels outside in the heat and how we feel outside in the heat. We (humans) sweat through the pores in the skin. The moisture of the sweat (although sometimes stinky) cools our skin and helps to mitigate and block our body from heating up. Although this is not a completely failsafe method of protecting us (humans) from overheating on a hot day, it simply is a strong deterrence. We can then increase our ability to cool off by wearing hats, protective clothing, drinking electrolytes, etc.
Buster, on the other hand, is at an extreme disadvantage when he is out on a hot day. First, and most important, is his natural cooling system. Buster does not sweat through the pores in his skin as we do. Buster’s internal method of cooling off is by panting. As he opens his mouth and pants, the cooler airflow from the outside interacts with the moisture on his tong to help cool his body. This is much the same process used many years ago with devices called “swamp coolers” (pre-air-conditioning era). Buster’s problem is that his mouth is a very small portion of his body, so his ability to cool himself when the temperature begins to climb becomes nearly impossible. Think of having a single room air conditioner to cool a large home.
Since Buster is a short snouted dog, his “air conditioner” becomes even smaller. He can easily overheat at temperatures that we might still find acceptable. We might not know is is overheated until he has been lethargic for extended period of time. Unfortunately, his level of dehydration may have already reached a dangerous point where saving him may be impossible.
So, what can my client do to keep Buster safe outside during the very hot days we often experience in South Florida?
- Minimize outside time outside during the day. Remember the old saying “Mad Dogs and Englishmen come out in the noon day sun.” I suggested he allow Buster out for no more than five minutes at a time and in no more than two hour intervals between the hours of 10AM and 7PM. This is the time of day where it really begins to “bake”. He can still get in his potty breaks and “sniffy times” with this schedule.
- Make sure that Buster has plenty of water when he comes in.
- Feel his body before he goes out and when he comes back in. If he feels overly warm when he returns, make sure he has water and keep him in a cool place for about 15 minutes. If his skin temperature has not cooled off, call his Veterinarian for advice.
- When Buster is outside, make sure he is on the grass and especially in the shade. Cement exposed to the summer Florida sun has been measured to be over 120 degrees. This can burn Buster’s feet. Remember, we are normally wearing shoes or flip-flops when we walk out onto the patio.
- Have water bowls outside for Buster when he is in the back yard. Keep them in the shade and refill them with cool water every time Buster goes outside. Also, make sure that the bowls aren’t hot.
- I told my client to keep Buster engaged while they were inside. Besides the water, make sure he has his favorite bone (we love the deer antlers) or toy (we like anything by Kong®).
- Play engaging, but not crazy games with Buster. I told my client that reinforcing obedience commands is a great way to engage and entertain Buster. Have him sit and stay while you walk to the door of the room. Step out of sight and then call him to you. Walk him around the house on a leash. I mentioned that my client could have Buster’s bed in his office while he was working so that they could reinforce their passive bond and positive relationship.
Making sure your dog is well cared for and always safe is your main responsibility as s dog owner. Summer heat can easily lead to our dog’s death and is something that can easily be avoided. Robin and I encourage you to contact us if you have any questions about dog training or underground dog fence training. Please visit Dog Fence Training Help Okeechobee South Florida or call (954) 472-4724. We have additional dog training and out of sight dog fence tips at Best Out of Sight Dog Fence Trainers Okeechobee South Florida. We are thrilled that we have trained over 3,500 dogs and humans in Okeechobee and South Florida. If your dog problems focus on obedience or behavior, we are your dog trainers. Learn more about our Obedience and Behavior Dog Training Programs by visiting Home Dog Training Okeechobee South Florida.