So, hands up, those of you who have taken your dog for a walk on pavement, gravel, or sand on a hot summer's day.
Yes, sand - the beach - a great place for a sunny afternoon, right? Wrong! While we trot around in our flipflops or sneakers, our dog's bare paws are being burned by the sun-and-heat-absorbing material on which they are forced to walk. An internet friend of mine, Nana Nishigaki, made this poster last year and has given me permission to post it here and to invite you to share it with others:
Walk the dog in the early morning and/or after sunset, or choose shady trails or grassy fields for play (being mindful that the dog doesn't first have to cross a burning-hot parking lot to reach it). Your dog will thank you.
And then there is this scenario: I'm doing a homecheck for a rescues, or just listening in on someone interested in adopting a dog from the shelter where I volunteer, when I hear the potential adopters say "Oh, he'll never be alone - I want a dog I can take EVERYWHERE with me."
While making a dog an integral part of the family is a great thing, the expectation to take the dog everywhere raises red flags and, in the homecheck situation, leads to a reality-checking teachable moment.
There are very few stores that allow dogs, and I've yet to see a doctor's office, grocery, restaurant, or hospital that allows Joe Blow to bring his dog in with him (unless Joe Blow has a service dog due to a disability).
I see what many people who take their dogs 'everywhere' do while in these establishments - they leave their dog in the car. Sadly, on a warm spring, summer or fall day, this is a dangerous practice. Even with the windows cracked and the car parked in the shade, the temperature inside the vehicle can quickly reach a point that leaves the dog in distress or - to put it bluntly - dead.
Dogs cool themselves by panting and by releasing heat through their paws - the warm temperature inside the car, combined with car seat upholstery, prevents effective cooling. The temperature inside a car increases approximately twenty degrees (F) for every ten minutes. That's 'ten minutes to disaster', as a recent SPCA poster says.
Tying them up outside the store or beside the car is no solution as it invites escape or theft. Leave Fido at home when going anywhere he or she isn't welcome - even if you just plan to 'pop into the store for a couple of things' - you never know when that 'two minutes' will become ten or twenty.
But you, my dog loving friends, probably know this.
My rule of thumb is if the temperature is in the high teens - or likely to reach that - I leave the dogs at home.
It just makes sense. Summer may be hotdog time, but it is no time for hot dogs.