Dear Old Trainer: I enjoyed your column on summer haircuts for dogs, but you forgot one important thing. If the sun hits a dog's skin that hasn't been exposed to the sun they get sunburned just like a human. Everyone should protect their dogs.
Robyn,South Lake Tahoe
Answer: Excellent advice, Robyn. Thanks for reminding me.
Dogs get sunburned the same as humans do, and it's not limited to dogs with new haircuts. Many breeds have spots on their body that are subject to sunburn. Border Collies have a pink spot next to the nose that burns if not protected.
If you just clipped your dog or you see bare skin, buy dog sunscreen from your vet or pet store and apply before taking your pet out into the sun. You can use human sunscreen on your dog, but check the label. Dogs may lick it off, plus it is absorbed into the skin, so check for toxic ingredients.
Dogs develop skin cancer at 35 times the rate humans do. If you protect against sunburn, and avoid toxic lawn and flea products, you cut that rate by more than 90 percent.
Here are a few more tips to keep dogs safe during the hot weather:
Dogs need plenty of cool water in the heat. Add ice cubes to ensure their dish stays cool.
Keep your dog inside during extreme heat. That includes night as well as the day. If you can't, hose him down every few hours or make him a bed of ice like the University of Georgia does on the sideline for their mascot Uga.
Walk your dog during the cool time of day and stay in the shade. Skip the walk if you can't do it in the shade.
Never leave a dog in a parked vehicle. Even if you leave the air conditioner on, the dog will die in minutes if the motor stops running.
Make sure your dog has shade when outside. If you have no trees, use a tarp or sheet to create a shelter from the sun.
Never chain a dog outside in hot weather. Dogs die every summer because the chain becomes entangled and they cannot reach shade or water.
Dear Old Trainer: How do identification chips work on dogs? Is it worth the money? Do you use it on your dogs?
A: A microchip the size of a grain of rice is inserted under the skin of the dog by your vet. It is painless and costs around $40, plus $20 to enter the information into a national database. Check with local rescue groups for special deals.
Once it is implanted, a vet or animal control officer can pass a wand over the dog's neck and determine his history and where he lives. It is a safe and effective way to ensure your dog will be returned if he strays.
I use it, and I recommend it to all owners. Even smart dogs get lost. One of mine got bored and took off to find me one day and got lost. I got her back because of the chip and now, as Neil Diamond wrote, I'm a believer.
Jack Haskins writes as The Old Trainer. A trainer for more than 30 years, he has rescued, trained, and placed more than 2,000 dogs. Send questions to email@example.com.