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BRIAN JOHNSON — Keep your dogs cool this summer

July and August, in The Lone Star State, are definitely known for their sweltering temperatures that can push the mercury into triple digits. These days have often been referred to as the “dog days of summer.” As a professional dog trainer for over 25 years, let me assure you that dogs don’t like this hot weather any more than I do! In fact, hot weather can be deadly to dogs.
With a little bit of common sense and some preventative measures, you can help your dog make it safely through the heat. Here are a few tips that will help.

1. Train your dog in the coolest part of the day. At DuckDogTrainer, we do all of our training in the first few hours of daylight. The air and water temperatures are cooler, and the dogs are ready to train after a good night of rest. We are careful to watch the weather this time of year and are not reluctant to train when it is raining outside as well. The rain cools things off and training in the rain helps dogs prepare for waterfowl hunting when the weather isn’t perfect. If you are going to train in the evening, try to wait until right before dark when things have cooled off a bit.

2. Avoid hot surfaces. Concrete sidewalks, asphalt driveways, and gravel pathways heat up quickly and will burn the pads on the bottom of your dog’s feet. Avoid making your walk on these hot surfaces at all costs. As a general rule — if it is too hot for your bare feet, it is too hot.

3. Make sure your dog has a cool shaded area if he stays outside. A nice covered kennel with a reflective tin roof is great to help reduce the heat. The higher the roof is, the cooler the area will be. Don’t simply put a doghouse outside and call it good. A doghouse in the sun will likely heat up to dangerous temperatures. The best option would be a tin covered dog kennel situated under shady trees with an adequate breeze.

4. Cool, clean water is a must! When I am out in the sun for an extended period of time, there is nothing like a cool drink of water to rehydrate and refresh. I am pretty sure that dogs feel the same way. Be sure to change your dog’s water frequently and to clean his water bowl daily. Keeping fresh water available will encourage him to drink more and keeping it clean will reduce the risk of parasites and disease.

5. Know when to quit. Here is where the common sense comes into play. Pay attention to your dog when the temperatures are high. If you see extremely heavy breathing, excessive panting, notice that your dog has lost control of his tongue, or your dog gets hot and seems wobbly, do whatever you can to cool him down. If the problem persists, seek veterinarian attention.

Playing at the beach and lake can be great summertime fun when accompanied by your canine companion. Just remember that sometimes your dog is counting on you to help keep him safe. Here is something to think about — what if God watches over me like I watch over my pets?

Brian Johnson, originally of Port Neches, is pastor of First Baptist Church of Winnie, owner of DuckDogTrainer.com and outdoors writer for The News.