For most equestrians, horses and dogs go together. Virtually every horse farm or equestrian facility has its share of canine companions, stable watchdogs, or pasture pups. Horse people often take their own dogs to the stables and even to horse shows. Some may allow their pups to tag along on trail rides, where such animals are allowed.
Hot weather can quickly spell dehydration, heat exhaustion, overheating and sunstroke for fur-covered friends. Dogs may be especially susceptible to heat-related illness, particularly during the dog days of summer, when the mercury soars to the highest temperatures of the year. How can equestrians and others keep dogs safe and prevent them from overheating on sweltering summer days? At the horse barn or on the trail, equestrians can take several simple steps on hot days to prevent dogs from heat-related dangers.
7 tips for keeping stable dogs safe and healthy in hot weather
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1. Clip long-haired dogs during the summer months. Shaving dogs is not advised, however, as a short layer of fur does can help to protect a dog from sunburn.
2. Provide a cool, shady spot for dogs to rest on hot days. Some horse lovers let their dogs chill out in the barn’s viewing room or lounge, if this is permitted. A breezy horse stall may also fit the bill.
3. Never stash a dog in a parked car, truck or horse trailer on a hot day. Vehicles can heat up quite quickly to dangerous levels, even in the shade.
4. Always offer a ready source of fresh drinking water for dogs at the stables.
5. Plan trail rides in the early morning or late afternoon hours, or choose shady trails, if dogs are to run along.
6. Supervise barn dogs carefully, checking them often for signs of overheating. On a hot day, if a dog begins drooling excessively, panting more than usual or gasping for air, he may be experiencing heat-related illness. A canine who displays difficulty walking steadily or who seems somehow disoriented may be in danger as well. Diarrhea or nausea can be sure signs of heat trouble too. In severe cases, an overheated dog may even experience seizures.
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If dogs show any of these symptoms, they need immediate cooling, rehydration, and perhaps veterinary attention.
7. Consider leaving dogs at home, at a kennel, or in a skilled pet care facility on particularly hot days.
Horse people, by nature, tend to be animal lovers. Seeing to dogs in hot weather is a top priority, as well as caring for their equine charges.