This heat is brutal. I don’t know if it’s because I am getting older or the heat hit faster and earlier than last year, but for mid-June, I feel like the oven is cranked up too high already.

Early onset of extreme heat takes some adjusting for us and our dogs. Walks have to be planned differently, as the pavement and sidewalks are too hot at the end of the day to be comfortable for the pads of our dog’s feet. A good rule of thumb is to feel the ground. If it’s too hot to leave your hand there for the count of 10, it’s too hot for your dog to walk on.

Another adjustment is taking our dogs on car rides. My mastiffs love to go in the car with us. We’re quite the sight to see, with their large heads sticking out and slobber trailing down the side of the vehicle. Fun times!

In this heat, even after the sun goes down, your vehicle will heat up to uncomfortable temperatures within 10 to 15 minutes. Dogs do not have a built-in cooling mechanism, like humans do in sweat, so heat exhaustion, heat stroke and death can and has happened to dogs in Central Texas within an hour of being left in a car. Don’t take a chance on your dog’s life. Leave them in the car with someone while the vehicle is running with the air conditioner on or leave them home.

Leaving your dogs home and out of the heat sounds easy enough. And while most of us have the ability to keep Fido in the air conditioning, that’s not always possible for some families. If your dog has to stay outside, try to provide as much shade as possible. Pay attention to the movement of the sun, as the shade will travel as well. Keep water bowls out of the sun and add ice in the morning to keep the water cooler, longer.

When you fill the bowls from an outside water source, let it run for a few minutes before filling, as hoses tend to heat up during the day. Inspect your dog daily for changes in their skin and behavior and minimize their activities in the middle of the day when heat is at its worst.

Most importantly, ask your veterinarian or check the Internet for symptoms of heat stroke in dogs and watch your own canine companions.

With all the warnings, summer might seem like a hot headache for dog owners, but really it’s not. Turn your sprinkler on and have some fun with Fido. Get to the lake, discover the fun of early morning walks and enjoy the sun.

Kathryn Leisinger is a Herald correspondent and the “Dean of Wags” for School of Wags, a nonprofit dog training and rescue organization.


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