Diamond and I have a lot of fun together in the summer months. We love to hike, swim, and attend outdoor concerts along with a plethora of other activities. Here are a few considerations I keep in mind when deciding whether Diamond should go on an excursion or stay home with her canine buds in the air-conditioned house.
To bring or not to bring!
As we’ve discussed in previous posts, service dogs in the United States can go virtually anywhere with their disabled handler, but as one friend of mine is known to say, “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.” Believe it or not, he’s got a point. Certain places, like big amusement parks, zoos, or outdoor sporting events aren’t often built with service dogs in mind. Hot cement, especially blacktop, can be very hard on our dogs’ paws. These places often don’t have adequate shade and locating a suitable park area for our dogs can be rather difficult. Every single time I take a dog to an amusement park or stadium during the hottest part of the day, I live to regret the experience.
What if I must bring my dog?
If the unavoidable happens, and you must bring a service dog under less than optimal conditions, here are a few tips that might help your dog have a more positive experience.
Bring lots of water and a portable travel bowl
If you’re sure you and your dog are going to have a hot time of it, be sure to bring a lot of water with you. Don’t count on event staff to provide this. If your dog seems thirsty or is panting excessively, stop and give her a drink. A travel bowl can be anything from a Tupperware container to a fancy foldable dog bowl. If you’re in search of a portable dog bowl,
Take a break
When the occasional water break isn’t quite enough, find a bench, or better yet an indoor area, and take a break for a few minutes. Your dog will love relaxing under a fan or in the A/C, and so will you! If your dog isn’t feeling too overheated, perhaps this would be a good time for him to munch on a few treats and receive some extra love from you.
Do your homework
Many of the more popular theme parks, like anything Disney or Six Flags, often have a kennel area for service animals to keep them cool and allow you to ride the awesome roller coasters without worrying about your dog’s welfare. This may be a thing to check out, especially if you plan to be gone all day long. Also call ahead if you plan to visit a zoo or a wildlife preserve. Dogs who enter zoos or wild animal parks, through no fault of their own, can cause distress to the animals on exhibit. Also, some of the wildlife, especially big cats, can make a lot of dogs very anxious. As a result, wild animal parks, zoos, or sanctuaries can prohibit service animals from entering some areas of their facilities, and yes, this is perfectly legal. So anywhere involving wildlife is somewhere to plan ahead for in order to avoid some very awkward moments when you arrive.
Ways to help your dog deal with the heat.
If you decide to brave the heat with your service dog, here are a few ways to prepare before you walk out the door.
Most service dogs, like Diamond, have thick double coats. That means they have a harsher outer coat and a soft, dense undercoat. This is great for winter, but not so fantastic for summer. I brush Diamond for around 20 minutes every other day to help get rid of all the extra hair. On a side note, this is definitely an outside chore. Frequent grooming helps Diamond look her best while hopefully keeping her a little bit cooler. I also use some healthy skin and coat supplements like Vetality Skin & Coat Chews for dogs.
With my dog, it took a couple weeks to see results, but it was totally worth the wait, and even though I do blog for Vetality, I do not ever recommend products I wouldn’t use on my own pets.
Pick your moment
Try to take your service dog for outdoor work either early in the morning or later in the evening if you can. This way, the sidewalks are not as hot on their paws. Use dog boots of you can’t avoid working your dog during the hottest parts of the day or see what kinds of transportation options are available in your area. My general criteria with Diamond are that we try to work inside if the weather is 90° or greater, but of course everyone’s mileage may vary in this instance. Also remember to protect your dogs from fleas, ticks and mosquitoes while enjoying your summertime outdoor activities. Nothing worse than brining unwanted pests’ home with you. I personally recommend Avantect II for Dogs because it repels and kills fleas, ticks and mosquitoes as well as kills flea eggs and larvae.
We at Vetality and Tevra Pet wish all working dogs and their partners the happiest summer filled with wonderful memories you and your working partner will always remember. Please let us know if we can answer any further questions about dogs and heat, or feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section! Happy Tails!!