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The Five Second Rule


     Supporting agility dogs with specialist lifetime cover

When it's too hot to walk...

photo cred: Jenny GermaineWe all know the dangers of leaving your dog in a car in the summer heat, but did you realise that everyday activities outdoors in the sun can sometimes be equally dangerous? Unlike people, dogs can't sweat so they can succumb to heat stroke much quicker than we would. Something as innocuous as walking the dog when it is too hot can be dangerous. Fortunately The Mirror newspaper has publicised a tip which is well worth remembering.

Dog's paws are just as sensitive as human's feet and are, therefore, susceptible to getting painfully burned even on days when we wouldn't consider hot. Probably because we wear shoes, we are not always aware of how hot tar can become underfoot, but dogs will feel the heat on the pads of their paws. Pavements, cobbles and other areas can be uncomfortably warm for your dog to tread on during summer, and may even burn their feet.

Even if the outside temperature is 25/77, there a little wind and the humidity is low, pavements and tarmac can reach a scorching 52/125, asphalt, packed earth, sand and pebbles can also be risky. And artificial turf can get up to 15 degrees hotter than regular grass.

The Moon Valley Canine Training Centre in Northern California suggests a simple way to check if it it too hot to walk. Simply place the back of your hand on the ground. If you cannot hold it for five seconds, it's too hot to walk your dog. As a general rule, if it's too hot for your hand, it's too hot for their paws.

 The Journal of The American Medical Association calculates temperatures as below.

Air Temperature
Celsius / Fahrenheit
Asphalt Temperature
Celsius / Fahrenheit
25/77 52/125
30/86 57/135
31/87 61/143
*These calculations are approximate.

To avoid any problems, change the time of day you walk your dog. Don't take them out at midday when the sun is highest in the sky as this is the hottest period. Instead, walk them early in the morning or later in the evening when the ground is cooler. In extreme hot weather, the Blue Cross advises that dogs should only be walked first thing in the morning and last thing at night. You could also buy some boots for your dog that would protect their feet.

You should shorten your walk time in those types of conditions. Most healthy medium or large dogs can walk for 30-minutes if the temperature is above 20/68. Smaller dogs should limit the walk to 15 or 20 minutes if temperatures are between 68/20to 32/90. On the other hand, If it's below 0 degrees, no dog should be out for a walk.

Dogs cool down naturally by panting to remove moisture from their lungs which pushes the heat out of their bodies. However, if the humidity is too high, this process is hindered and they can no longer cool themselves, causing their temperature to skyrocket. If your dog is panting heavily within a few minutes into the walk, your dog is giving you a big warning sign it is too warm and it's time to go home.

Danger increases depending on your dog's breed as well as those with smooshed faces like Bulldogs, Pugs and Mastiffs which may already have breathing difficulties. If a dog's temperature gets over 40/104, the results can be fatal.

No need to tell agility people that if it's too hot for the usual walk or training, keep your dog mentally stimulated by doing some brain games instead.

Source: Mirror Newspaper

Photo credit: Jenny Germaine

First published 28th June 2019

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