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Local Woof: Surviving the Dog Days of Summer

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Editor’s Note: The Local Woof is a column that’s sponsored and written by the staff of Woofs! Dog Training Center. Woofs! has full-service dog training, boarding, and daycare facilities, near Shirlington and Ballston.

Yup, it’s hot. What’s a dog owner to do? Here are some suggestions to stay safe and cool for the next few months.

Please tell me you already know not to leave your dog in a hot car? Not with the windows down, not under a tree. The outside temperature should be around 60 degrees before it is safe to leave a dog in the car so we have several months before this is an option again. Leave the dog home, or leave someone in the car with the AC running. No exceptions.

Do not shave your double coated dog. I know it seems like shaving your golden retriever is a good idea in the summer, but it’s not. Double coated dogs use their coat as protection and insulation from the sun as well as the cold. If you shave your dog for the convenience of avoiding shedding be aware that your dog is now more susceptible to over heating.

Watch for signs of over heating such as excessive panting, bright red or purple tongue, confusion, and wobbling when walking. If you notice these signs get your dog indoors immediately and contact your vet. Never bathe an overheated dog in cold water. Cool wet rags on the stomach or inside of the thighs will help to cool them down. If your dog has fallen or seems confused an emergency vet visit is in order.

Play early, late or indoors. Walking your dog in the heat of the day is a really bad idea. Just because you can handle it does not mean your dog can. Humans sweat to cool off. Dogs do not. Dogs on leash will also tend to try and keep up with their owners no matter what, even if their bodies are telling them they should stop. Don’t put your dog in that position.

Trade the midday walk for an indoor game of fetch, tug or a tricks training session (your overheated dog walker will love you for it too). Training a roll over can be as exhausting as a good walk anyhow. Be super careful with brachycephalic dogs like pugs and bulldogs. They cannot handle the heat at all.

Swim. Swimming is some of the best exercise a dog can get and it keeps them cool at the same time. Arlington has two dog parks along Four Mile Run, Shirlington and Glen Carlyn. Both have small beach areas near deeper swimming holes where dogs can wade or swim to keep cool. There are also some private pools that can be rented by the hour for the serious canine athlete. A backyard kiddie pool is also a great idea and a lot of fun.

Have fun, stay cool. Fall will be here soon enough.

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of

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