Lauren DeHorta's dogs — Sacha, a Rottweiler, and mini dachshund Sammy.

Tips to protect your pets from elements

Scottsdale natives know that we live in the sunniest part of the nation, enjoying 300 days of sunshine throughout the year. While we have the ability to shed our coats in hot weather, unfortunately our furry friends do not.  So Tony and I constantly have to come up with creative ways to keep our dogs cool and comfortable. I thought I would share some of Sacha and Sammy’s favorite ways to beat the heat.

SAFETY FIRST

First Rule of Paw: Never, ever leave your dog unattended in a car, even with the windows down.  Reason being, temperatures in a car can rise quickly, putting your dog’s life at risk.  Even a mild day can be dangerous – For example, on a regular 73ºF day, the temperature inside a car can reach 120ºF in 30 minutes.  Keep it safe, keep it simple – don’t take them in the car if you plan on leaving them.

I also always keep an eye out for signs of heatstroke and remain ready at all times to transport animals immediately to the vet or emergency animal clinic if they are showing any signs of the condition.   Symptoms can develop quickly, so be on the lookout for unusual heavy breathing (rapid and loud), weakness or fatigue, increased heart rate, disorientation, extreme thirst among others. If you suspect overheating and/or heatstroke do not use ice water or ice, as this can potentially worsen their condition.  Instead, get your dog to a cool place right away and if possible, submerge your dog in a bathtub or tank of cool (not cold) water.  If that isn’t not possible, fan your dog lifting up their fur if they have a heavy coat to allow the air to circulate and cool them down more quickly.  Remember to remain calm while working with your vet to treat your best friend – they will be more relaxed if you are.

Safety is everything and every dog is different, so consult your veterinarian before using any of these tips below.

TREATS, TRUNKS AND TRENDY

Now onto the Fun Stuff:  At home, we have a pool set under some trees so when we are outdoors barbecuing, the dogs enjoy a refreshing swim before dinner.

Another favorite is their frozen treats, where I place peanut butter in their special toy like a Kong and freeze it overnight. I give it to them during the heat of the day and not only do they enjoy their “popsicle”, but it keeps them entertained for hours.

Speaking of Frozen: I put regular ice-cubes in their fresh water, which I replace often. This trick also adds a cool playful experience as well. My dogs may be shorthaired, but I also try and brush them often for the sake of their coat which can be like wearing a sweater outside.  But I think they mostly enjoy our evening walks when it’s cooler and we can all enjoy the refreshing night air.

Believe It or Not: Dogs can get sunburned just like humans, especially if they have a lot of exposed skin or thin coats. So before going outside, I use a sunscreen for dogs that you can get at local pet store.

I also regulate their level of play in the sun, not only by temperature but also based on the type of turf they are playing on.  For instance, Sacha and Sammy tire more quickly when they play on sand than a harder grassy surface.  They may not like it when I call a time out, but I know it’s for their own good.

Speaking of Turf: We avoid walks on hot pavement or synthetic grass when the mercury rises.  The synthetic grass can get as hot as the pavement and can actually burn your dog’s paws.  I figure if I can’t stand to walk barefoot on it, neither can they.  During the summer, we find real grassy places or visit the many dog parks Scottsdale has to offer and avoid scorching sidewalks, synthetic grass or streets.

I am always on the lookout for “coat’ture” (sorry I couldn’t resist…) for Sacha and Sammy and have found a lot of fun and functional ways to help them beat the heat.  Several companies now offer an array of “cool” clothing from collars and vests to booties and specialty mats.  I find them online and at the pet store.

If I know we are going to be outside long, visiting friends or the park, I have a portable shelter I bring along if I’m not quite sure there will be trees or a shady area.  I bring their favorite blankets and put them in their ‘pup’ tent that is open on both sides to allow for air circulation.  They love it and feel calm, cool and collected with their own surroundings.

 

Lauren DeHorta is a Scottsdale resident and devoted animal lover. She lives with her husband Tony and dogs Sacha, a Rottweiler and her Mini Dachshund Sammy. As owner of D Pet Hotels Scottsdale’s first 5-Star Luxury Dog Hotel; Lauren has learned many “tips” and “tricks” along the way to creating a happy, healthy and safe environment for dogs and shares some of those with you in her new monthly column.

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Eric Shepperd

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