Golden Retrievers Speak: Extreme Heat!

Jeter:   Last week was not a fun week for Alanis & myself.    The air in our home wasn’t working, leading to a very uncomfortable environment for us doggies!  It became so warm inside the house that we barely even wanted to play with each other!

Alanis:  Yes, you know the house is uncomfortable when we have no interest in playing.  We tried, and had our moments, but for the most part, we rested a lot.

Jeter:  It was a situation where it was nicer outside than it was inside!   Daddy skipped one day of walking us, but took us for a quick walk during the second day of the mini heat wave.  It actually felt good to get outside of this sauna.

Alanis:   Daddy said they are in the process of replacing the air conditioning system!  That will be nice!

Jeter:  Correct – the lazy man finally was able to find someone to come out to look at the unit.   I will not have peace of mind until everything new is in place, though.    We are almost in June, so another heat wave can come at any time!

Alanis:  Thankfully, we have our long coats……

Jeter:   Isn’t that funny?  People sometimes feel bad for us because of our long coats.  Our coats actually protect us from the heat.    Our coats actually work as insulators, just like inside of a house.   If you don’t have heat in the house on a cold day, the insulation will prevent the house from becoming too unbearable.  The same is true for our coats!   If we are outside on a 5-degree day, certainly we can get cold – however, our coats keep us comfortable.  It is the way nature works – we weren’t originally built with heaters and air conditioners in mind.   We were originally built to stay comfortable regardless of the weather.

Alanis:  Correct!  We should never be shaved during the summer.   That could lead to sunburn and actually make us less comfortable.    Just make sure we have water, and our bodies will take care of the rest.   We also know where the coolest and warmest areas of the house are.  We’ll seek them out and we will find them.  That is just a part of who we are.

Jeter:  This definitely does not mean our bodies can withstand any extreme condition you throw at us.  We can, and WILL, overheat.   If we are left in a hot car, we will overheat, for example.    We pant to stay cool – if the rate of our panting can’t keep up with the temperatures our bodies are feeling, we will overheat.

Alanis:   Is there anything a human can do to help us?  Would throwing us in a pool of ice water help?

Jeter:   We should throw Daddy in a pool of ice water just for the comedy of it all.  It isn’t necessary for us, however.   We sweat through our paws, believe it or not.  If you notice we are overheating, find a way to cool off our paws.  That will help us regulate our body temperature again.

Alanis:   Can we still go for walks on hot days?

Jeter:  Yes!  But we have to rely on our humans to make the correct decision on hot days.  Try not to take us in the middle of a hot day, because – duh – that is when it is hottest.  If you don’t like walking at night, you can take us before the sun goes down.    It isn’t just about the heat hitting our bodies, it is also about walking on hot asphalt if you must walk on some road surfaces.    For the humans:  Put your hand on the asphalt.  If you can’t keep your hand there for long because it is too hot, it is also likely too hot for our paws.

Alanis:   We will still be enthusiastic, because we are dogs!  That is why Daddy has to make the call that is in our best interests!

Jeter:    We all love a good, long walk – but health should always come first.

Alanis:  Correct!  If Daddy passes out, who cares?  We have great noses and will find our way back home.  If we pass out, however, that can be a disaster.  Be careful with us is all we ask.

Jeter:   That was mean, but oh so true – we would find our way back to Mommy.

Alanis:   Thankfully, the temperatures have gone down again and we are once again comfortable and playful.

Jeter:   Daddy went out to buy a couple of fans, and you are afraid of the one in the bedroom!

Alanis:  Yeah, yeah – like you are Mr. Brave all of a sudden!  Pulllleeeeeaaaaasssseeee!

Me:  The dogs summed it all up perfectly.  There isn’t a need to shave a long-haired dog in the summer.  Their hair helps keep them comfortable.    If you run into a situation like the one we had, make sure they have plenty of water.   They may search out comfortable places to lay down.   After we got the fans, Jeter found a perfect spot that was both underneath our ceiling fans AND within range of one of the tower fans we purchased.  As I said, they figure it out.   If you don’t have carpeting, they will also likely lay down more on the colder surfaces of your floor rather than jump on a couch or bed (if you allow for that!)

If you see signs of overheating, cool off their paws immediately.     Call the vet and take them in.   Overheating is just as dangerous for them as it is for us – do not take it for granted that they have “recovered” after you cool them down.   Better be safe than sorry.

The summer months can be a lot of fun for you and your dog – nicer days to play outside, etc.  If you monitor their activity and watch for lethargy, you will be able to enjoy the months ahead without much of a worry.

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