Thursday, July 13, 2017

Take The Parka Challenge

Ok, now that summer is well and truly here I would like to issue a challenge to dog owners. Those of you whose dogs have long fur or an undercoat, please put a parka on. Those of you with short-furred, single-coated dogs, a spring or fall jacket will do. And if your dog has hairy or floppy ears, pull up the hood or put on a toque. Got it? Now here's the fun part: leave it on 24 hours a day... forever. Anyone up for this?? Waiting... Waiting... Come on you guys!

To be fair, and to make this challenge realistic, you are permitted to grow a Gene Simmons tongue and to leave it hanging out constantly for cooling.

I think we sometimes forget that our ancestors evolved in the tropics. As a result we have an amazing cooling system with our ability to both dilate capillaries and sweat just about anywhere on our (mostly) hairless body. Our dogs' ancestors evolved in the subarctic, which has consequently only equipped them for cooling with a big tongue that drools and a little nose that sweats (and sweaty paw pads, but that's useless). We've created a few more heat tolerant breeds such as Chihuahuas that have much thinner shorter coats and have big erect ears for some of that capillary dilation action, and there is the occasional goofball black Lab who likes to sprawl in the sun, but the majority of our dogs dislike the heat.

How do you know that your dog is hot? Simple: panting. I get a lot of questions about panting dogs as people sometimes worry that it is a sign of something serious. Very rarely it can be an indication of a fever or of heart disease or respiratory disease, but if there aren't any other symptoms of those problems your dog is almost certainly panting for one of three reasons:
1. Hot
2. Stressed, anxious or excited
3. Painful
You should rule out stress, anxiety, excitement and pain first, but chances are your dog is simply trying to cool off. This does not necessarily mean that he is suffering, no more than a person who is sweating is suffering, but it does mean that you should be aware he is hot and might actually be too hot.

The solutions are hopefully too obvious to bother mentioning, but I'll do it anyway (in a handy numbered list again!):
1. Professional grooming.
2. Early morning and late evening walks.
3. Access to cool resting areas in the house.
4. Move to the Arctic.

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