Well the spring shows have been under way now for the last couple of months. Some Futurities are already finished and the owners of the top winning dogs are dreaming of the National Specialty show to enter the futurity finals. Some dogs have finished their championships already and others are on the same quest. Congratulations to the owners of these fabulous animals!
As the days get warmer, traveling to dog shows with food in the car becomes more of a challenge. For extended trips, I always carry a food cooler in my car. If I am staying over night at a hotel, I need to bring my dog’s food with me in something that will keep it cold and prevent it from going bad. Because I always add meat to my dog’s food, I must have a place to store it in my car until I get to the hotel. This is also a place for me to carry my drinks, sandwiches or snacks that I might want to eat on the road.
I like a cooler that is large enough to put small containers of my dog’s meat in. Sometimes you can use large freezer zip lock bags to keep the food fresh and this can save you room in the cooler so you can pack other things in there as well. Unless it’s a very large cooler, you might not be able to keep your dog’s water in it. Sometimes you may have to carry two coolers just for this purpose. You can also carry ice packs in the cooler in case your dog or you over heats.
My dogs as I’ve said before are excellent eaters. So I like to keep some treats for them that I can keep in the refrigerator for a cool snack. I keep hard boiled eggs on the shelves for both the dogs as myself as well. They’re nice and cold and loaded with protein so it’s a cooling and healthful snack for them to enjoy. I also give them cold veggies like baby carrots to satisfy their need for something crunchy and refreshing at the same time.
Speaking of over heating, the up coming hotter weather is the most dangerous time of the year to travel with dogs. It’s common sense, but it still needs to be said, don’t leave your dog in the car with the windows rolled up or even with a little crack in the top of the window while you run in the store to do a quick errand. The temperatures can climb so quickly and soon the car becomes a furnace with your dog burning up inside. Some people like to take their dogs with them everywhere. The hot weather is one of those times that you should just leave your dog at home.
If you are traveling to shows with your dog, pay close attention to your dog. Grooming him and preparing him for the show ring and then showing him can over heat your dog very quickly and can lead to heat stroke. Add to that the excitement the dog feels at a show and it can be a set up for a disaster if one is not careful and watchful of his dog. Keep your dog well hydrated. Many times the show grounds have a hook up for water hoses. One must be very careful, however when hosing a dog down. If you put him back in the hot car in his crate, he can heat up very quickly and the inside of the car can become like a sauna for the dog. This also can be true if you lay a wet towel in his crate. Initially it may be cool for the dog, but within a few minutes it will heat up and instead of cooling him down, it will have the reverse effect on him.
At any dog show, most people will look for the shadiest spot to park their car or van. Unfortunately those are the spots people fight to get and unless you get to the show grounds VERY early, those few spots will have been taken by the time you do get there. Providing adequate shade for your dogs is a must! Some people put their dog’s crate outside of the car under an awning that they have brought with them for this purpose. The main goal is to keep your dog as comfortable as you possibly can in hot temperatures. It’s not unheard of that some dogs have lost their lives in this type of weather. Make sure that your dog gets plenty of water to keep him hydrated.
For those that are lucky enough to own a motor home, keeping the show dog in this air-conditioned “home away from home” is a luxury many of us can’t afford. Don’t be too surprised if your dog doesn’t want to leave the comforts of the motor home to go out in the hot temperatures just to run around in a circle. You might find the time that he does the most pulling at the end of the leash is on his way back to the air-conditioned “giant!”
If you keep your dog outside for most of the day, again make sure he has proper shade and always plenty of clean fresh water. I’d rather leave my dog in a crate with air conditioning during the hottest times of the day than outside. If you work or have to leave the house for longer periods of time during the day, you can set the air conditioner lower just as long as it’s set at a comfortable temperature.
Investing in an inexpensive kid’s plastic pool can be a God send for the outside dog. Most dogs love to lay down in it to cool their hot tummies and feet. Just make sure you change the water and keep it clean and cool for your dogs. Mosquitoes larvae can build up in it if you don’t’ keep it clean. Spraying your dog with the hose can be cooling for him as well. Some dogs love to run through the sprinkler system on your lawn if you let them. Keeping them cool and comfortable should be your main goal.
Dark dogs feel the heat even more than other dogs do. The sun is naturally drawn to the dark dog’s coat. You might find him heating up quicker than some of your other dogs. My “Rajah” (the dark male pictured at the top of this blog) used to love lying out in the plastic pool outside on the back lawn. When I moved, I no longer had a pool for my two dogs. Both he and “Nuance” were my house dogs. When I went to work, they stayed in the house together all day. One day when I was home, I noticed that just Nuance was by my side in the house. Where was Rajah I wondered? So I quietly went around the house to see if I could find out what he was doing. When I didn’t locate him in the main part of the house, I went in to my bedroom. He wasn’t there. So I went in to my master bath, and lo and behold there he was! He didn’t have his beloved swimming pool outside any more so he made due with my bath tub! Yup he was lying in the bath tub. It didn’t have any water in it, but it must have been so cooling for his big 105 lb. body. I grabbed my camera (he wasn’t going anywhere), and I took a picture of him. I have that picture someplace in my storage. I wish I had it to show you with this article. Oh well, another time. But these dogs know what they need to keep themselves comfortable!
If you walk your dog everyday, don’t do it in the middle of the day when it’s the hottest outside. The best time of day to walk him is in the morning or evening when it’s a bit cooler. You’ll both be a lot happier.
If your dog does live outside, it is imperative that besides adequate fresh, cool water that he has shade and shelter from the elements. Provide your dog with a dog house that is insulated to help give him some relief from the extremes of the weather.
Basically all of this stuff is just good old fashioned common sense, but you’d be surprised how some people lack it when it comes to the proper care of their dogs in the hot weather. It’s as though they are suffering from oxygen starvation or heat stroke themselves. We can do for ourselves. The animals can’t. They depend on us. Take care of them first so you can all rest comfortably because believe me dealing with an animal that is under stress from the heat is not a pretty sight. Prevention is crucial to your dog’s safety. Just remember, if you don’t want to be out in the heat for any length of time, neither does your dog. He feels the heat a lot more than you do.
My rating: hot weather and your dog: (1), water readily available: (4), shade and shelter: (4)