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An ongoing series of informational entries

How to Keep Your Dog Cool in the Summer

August 13, 2018

Summer can mean lots of fun outside with your dog. But when the temps soar, take steps to protect your pet. Whether you take him for a walk down the street, a ride in the car, or just out in the yard to play, the heat can be hard on him. Here's how to keep your furry best friend safe.

Never leave your dog in the car. No, not even if you think you’ll only be a few minutes. Even when it isn’t that hot outside, the temp can soar inside a closed car. On an 85-degree day, it can reach 102 F within 10 minutes. And that's with a window cracked. After 30 minutes, it could be up to 120. Leave your dog at home, or go places where he can come with you.

Keep your house cool. If Fido’s home alone, make sure he can truly chill. Leave the air conditioner on, and close the drapes. If you don't have AC, open the windows and turn on a fan. You may want to see if a cooling vest or mat can help.

Watch when you exercise. Limit when and how much you do when it's hot and humid. Take walks in the cooler part of the day -- the early morning and evening. And carry enough water for both of you.

Check the pavement. Before you head out for a walk, touch the pavement. If it's too hot for your hand, it's too hot for your dog's paw pads. Walk on the grass and stay off the asphalt. You also might want to try booties for your dog so his paws don’t burn.

Offer plenty of water and shade. Don't leave your pooch alone outside for long. And when he is there, make sure he has shade and lots of fresh, cool water. Add ice cubes when you can. Trees are better than doghouses for shade. They let air flow through. Doghouses can trap the heat and make it worse. Think about a kiddie pool or a sprinkler to help your pal cool off in the yard.

Make cool treats. Help your canine chill from the inside out. For puppy ice pops, make ice cubes with tasty treats inside. Or fill and freeze a chew toy to make a chilly snack.

Keep an eye on the humidity, too. When the air is full of moisture, your dog may not be able to pant enough to cool himself off. That can raise his temperature, which can lead to heatstroke. Stay inside, and limit exercise, too.

Take care of at-risk dogs. Be watchful if you have a snub-nosed pet like a pug or bulldog. Their smaller airways make it harder for them to release heat when they pant. It's also easy for old and overweight dogs, or those with heart and breathing problems, to get heatstroke.

Groom your pet. If your dog has long hair, get rid of any mats and tangles. It will help keep him cool. Don't shave or clip his coat before you talk to your vet or groomer. The extra fur that keeps him warm in winter may also keep him cool in summer.

Visit your vet. Keep his shots up to date, especially in summer. The parvovirus spreads in hot weather. And your dog probably spends more time outside, which means it’s more likely he could come in contact with a critter that has rabies. Summer is high season for fleas, which spread many diseases, and mosquitoes, which carry heartworm. Get him on regular meds to prevent these pests.

Watch for signs of overheating. Your dog can't tell you when he doesn't feel well, so keep an eye out for heatstroke, which can have these symptoms:

*Heavy panting

*Heavy drooling

*Trouble breathing

*Rapid heartbeat

*Dark or red gums and tongue

*Dizziness

*Weakness

Agitation

If you see any signs, get him to the vet right away.


Separation Anxiety and Your Dog

-What to Do If Your Dog Has Separation Anxiety

August 24, 2018

Does your dog freak out when you leave him home alone? Have you gotten complaints from neighbors about him barking, whining, or howling when you're gone? Do you return home to find that he has caused major damage to your home? Does your dog seem to forget all housetraining when you're away? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then it's possible your dog is suffering from separation anxiety.

Separation anxiety is a disorder that causes dogs to panic at the idea of being left home alone. The panic is so overwhelming that when you leave, dogs tend to become destructive, bark like crazy, and have housebreaking accidents. When you return home, their greetings are often frantic. This condition is stressful for both dogs and owners, especially because regular obedience training does little to ease it.

The good news is that you can help your dog. There are ways reduce your dog's anxiety. One of the most effective methods is called systematic desensitization. It involves gradually allowing your dog to get used to being left home alone. Here's what you need to know about separation anxiety in dogs and overcoming it.

Boredom Vs. Separation Anxiety

First things first: is your dog just bored? People often mistake boredom for separation anxiety. Both are accompanied by problem behaviors, such as destructive chewing and excessive barking. The difference is that boredom can be overcome by adding more exercise and mental stimulation to your dog's day; those things have little or no impact on separation anxiety. Try adding an extra walk, games of fetch or tug-of-war, an obedience class and a variety of toys. If boredom is the reason for the barking and chewing, you should see a big change in your dog's behavior. If none of these things help, then you should continue to follow the steps to treat separation anxiety.

Change Your Behavior

Most of us have a routine we follow before we leave the house: shower, dress, put on a coat, grab keys, walk out the door. Once he has recognized your routine, your dog's anxiety may start building from the first step. This means his anxiety is not just beginning when you walk out the door. Instead, it starts when your alarm clock goes off or you turn on the shower, and by the time you leave the house he is in a full blown panic.

To prevent this building anxiety, make some changes to your own behavior. Pay attention to the things you do before you leave the house, and begin doing them randomly throughout the day. For example, you can grab your keys and sit down to watch television, or put on your coat and feed your dog. Within a few weeks, your dog should no longer see these things as signs that you are about to walk out the door, and some of his anxiety should be eased.

Keep Coming and Going Low-Key

Most of us hate leaving our dogs almost as much as they hate seeing us go. This often leads to us lavishing our dogs with affection and attention right before we leave home and immediately when we walk in the door. Unfortunately, this can add to your dog's anxiety. To prevent this, the best thing you can do is ignore your dog before you leave and for several minutes after your return. In this way, you are telling your dog that your coming and going is really no big deal.

For mild to moderate cases of separation anxiety, these steps may be enough to ease your dog's anxiety. For more severe cases, however, you will need to do some more work.

Work Your Way Up to Long Periods Away

This step can be time-consuming, and requires a real commitment on the part of the dog owner. Once this process is started, it is important your dog is never left alone for extended periods until his anxiety is completely gone. It can take up to several weeks to get to this point, so you may need to take some vacation time, hire a pet sitter, or find a doggie daycare until you have finished this step.

Once you have a plan in place to make sure your dog is never alone, it is time to start getting him used to your being away. Plan on spending at least 30 minutes on each training session. To start, step out the door for a short amount of time, and step right back inside. You cannot step out long enough for your dog's anxiety to begin building, so in cases of severe separation anxiety, you may only be able to step outside for a second. When you step back inside, keep things quiet, and give your dog a few minutes to relax. Once he is relaxed, step back outside again, and repeat this step until your dog is showing no signs of anxiety: no panting, pacing, drooling, etc.

Next, it is time to slowly increase the amount of time you are gone. Again, this might mean only moving up to two seconds, then three, and so on for severe cases. Once you start adding time, you can mix up the lengths of time you step out during a training session. For example, if you are able to step outside for five minutes, step out for five minutes and then three minutes. Change it up, but do not go beyond the five minutes until your dog is showing no signs of anxiety.

Once you have worked up to leaving your dog alone for about 45 minutes, you should be able to begin adding time more quickly. In this way you can work your way up to leaving your dog alone for an hour, then two, and then for an entire work day.

If you are able to devote an hour or more each day to training, your dog's anxiety should be greatly improved within a few weeks. If you have followed all the steps, and your dog is still showing signs of anxiety, you may need to seek more help.