Dear Old Trainer: My wife thinks Molly, our wire fox
terrier, needs a fan on her
most of the time. I tell her dogs don't perspire like humans so the fan isn't doing her much good. However, I stopped to chat with a friend while out on our walk and when Molly moved from one spot to another I saw little wet spots where she was standing, so it appears her feet sweat. Can you shed a little light on this matter?
-- Ernie, Los Banos
A: You are correct, Ernie. Dogs don't sweat the way humans do. Molly has sweat glands on her feet, but the only way she has to cool down is to pant with her mouth open.
The moisture on her tongue and the lining of her lungs evaporates, producing the same cooling effect that evaporation of sweat produces in humans.
Your wife is correct, too. The fan speeds up the evaporation process and increases the cooling effect. An old myth holds that fur acts as insulation and protects a dog from the heat. The truth is that once a dog becomes overheated the fur traps the heat, making it hard for her to cool down. A fan helps Molly dissipate heat through her fur.
All dogs have a hard time cooling off once they are hot, so summer is a danger zone.
Watch your dog at all times. If you notice excess panting, check her gums and tongue. If they appear bright red, she is in danger. Take the following steps at once:
Wet her coat with cool -- not cold -- water and place her in front of a fan.
Provide cool water for her to drink.
Get her into an air conditioned environment, preferably on a tile floor or other cool surface.
Give her an ice cube or frozen treat.
The best solution for any dog owner is to use common sense and prepare in advance.
Don't take her on car trips in the summer unless you will be in the car at all times.
Dogs will die in a car in the hot sun, even with all four windows down. You can leave the air conditioner on, but if the engine dies your dog dies.
Limit exercise. The perfect amount of exercise in the winter may be deadly in the summer.
Keep plenty of cool water
available. Spread ice on the ground the way the Georgia Bulldogs do
for their mascot, Uga, at Georgia
Keep her out of the sun as much as you can, and remember that dogs with dark fur absorb more heat.
Give her a summer haircut. It is easy to do it yourself and your dog will prefer you to a groomer. Do not shave her. Start at the base of the tail with a good pair of scissors, take your time, and cut off everything that doesn't look like a shorthaired dog.
And turn the fan on her if she appears to be feeling the heat, just like Ernie's wife does for Molly.
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