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Chapter 6: Protection From The Elements

Not all dogs are suited to all types of weather conditions, and some will be more sensitive to certain elements than others. The following are some tips to help you exercise your dog safely in all weathers.

Sun Protection For Your Dog

During hot weather, avoid being out with your dog from around eleven in the morning to four o’clock in the afternoon. This not only helps protect your dog from the sun, but prevents his or her paws from burning on the hot ground. In circumstances where you must be out with your dog during such weather and at that time of day, stay in shady areas as much as possible.

Doggie Sunscreen?

Generally dogs don’t need any kind of sunscreen, although if your dog has hairless and non-pigmented areas on his or her body (which usually occur on the tips of the ears, the skin around the lips, and tip of the nose) they can burn easily. You’d be wise to put sunscreen on those parts of your dog if you’re going to be out for long periods during the day.

Human sunscreen with zinc should NOT be used on dogs as they can get zinc poisoning from licking it off. Stick to zinc-free sensitive skin human sunscreen, or get your vet to recommend a doggie sunscreen that would suit your dog.

Sun Protection For You

Protect yourself from the sun by wearing:

  • Sunblock.

  • Sunglasses.

  • A brimmed hat
    (unless your exercise
    method requires a helmet).

Heat Protection For Your Dog

Avoid intense exercise in hot weather - especially if it’s humid - as high humidity doesn’t allow a dog to efficiently get rid of heat through panting. On days like that, stick to:

  • Treadmilling.

  • Swimming.

  • Going for short, moderate-paced, on-lead walks in shady areas when the sun is low in the sky.

For the hottest times of the day, keep your dog indoors. If you must take him or her out, stay in the shade as much as possible, and keep an eye on your dog for signs of overheating (like laboured panting) or tiredness (wanting to stop all the time). They are signs that it’s way too hot for your dog to be out, head straight home.

Keep Out Of The Sun

The following types of dogs should be kept
indoors during hot weather, as they find it
difficult to regulate their body temperature:

  • Elderly dogs.

  • Very young pups.

  • Unwell dogs.

  • Overweight dogs.

  • Short-nosed dogs (eg. Bulldogs).

Dogs With Cold-Weather Coats

Some dogs whose coats are meant for very cold climates - for example Huskies and Bearded Collies - happen to live in warm climates. If you have a dog with a cold-weather coat, clip him or her during the warmer months. (In fact, even if your dog doesn’t have a cold-weather coat, you can still clip him or her during the summer months: I clip my dogs because it's logical to assume that in hot weather any dog would be more comfortable with shorter fur.)

Note that clipping lessens the sun protection that fur provides, so just because the dog is cooler, it doesn’t mean he or she can now spend hours and hours in the sun. Sunburn is a reality for dogs too.

Cool That Doggie Down

When it’s hot weather I take my dogs out walking very early or very late in the day. However, here in Sydney during the summer months it’s often very hot and humid even at those times, so I like to keep the outdoor walks quite brief, and top up their daily exercise with swims and short stints on the treadmill.

Cold Protection For You

The best way to deal with cold weather is by wearing lots of thin layers. I live in Sydney, Australia and I’ve heard many Sydney-siders whinging about the cold (despite the relatively mild winters here) saying that they can’t take their dogs out in such weather.

But since there are people who live in very cold climates who go out in the snow every day with their dogs, cool weather isn’t an excuse to stop taking your dog out.

Just because the cliché exists about winter being a lazy, indoors, weight-gaining time of the year, it needn’t be the case. The point is: stop whining, wear lots of thin layers, and get out there with your dog during the cooler months.

Cold Protection For Your Dog

The following types of dogs suffer the cold more than others:

  • Little dogs.

  • Older dogs.

  • Pups.

  • Unwell dogs.

  • Hairless dogs.

Clothes for dogs are widely available, so if your dog needs help keeping warm during the cooler months, invest in some comfortable dog clothes. And be practical - don’t just go for the cuteness factor, think about warmth and range of motion. I have always found Ruff Wear gear to be practical, well-made, dog-friendly, and of excellent quality. I highly recommend it.

Out In The Rain

Buy raincoats for both you and your dog so that you can still go out when the weather is wet.

>>>On to Chapter 7: The Right Equipment

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protection from the sun
Ready to hit the streets in my sunnies and cap. Although you can't see it, I've got sunblock on too. Protect your skin, people, so that it can continue to protect you!

swimming dogs
Jake (left) and Jasmin (right) cooling off in their nanny and poppy's pool on a sunny summer's day. They're each wearing a Ruff Wear Portage Float Coat.

Ruff Wear
Throughout this site that I mention Ruff Wear gear a lot. This is because Ruff Wear not only specialise in adventure and exercise gear for dogs (and therefore highly relevant to this site) but their products are of superb quality that even withstand the rough and tumble Jack Russell Terriers put them through!

dog jackets
Jake (right) and Jasmin (left) in their Ruff Wear Cloud Chaser jackets. These provide both warmth and excellent protection against the wind.

dog raincoats
The furry babies (Jake right, Jasmin left) in their Ruff Wear Sun Shower raincoats. No more soggy doggie with these cool raincoats - and they come complete with super-cute removable hoods!

dog clothing
Jake on the right and Jasmin on the left in the very warm Ruff Wear Climate Changer jackets. (Jake has decided that he's had quite enough of the modelling game and is about to have a little lie down.)



Adopt a homeless animal instead - they all deserve a second chance

It's estimated that 130,000 dogs and 60,000 cats are killed every year in Australia because there are not enough homes for them all. And the global numbers amount to millions upon millions every single year.

Puppy mills are a major contributor to the terrible problem of overpopulation. Puppy mills are essentially 'dog factories' where dogs are forced to churn out litter after litter, with no thought for the welfare of the dogs and all thought for profit. The dogs live in appallingly dirty, cramped conditions all their lives, and when they no longer serve their purpose they're killed, dumped or sold to vivisection laboratories.

Petshops fit into the picture because puppy mills are generally where petshops get their animals from. Furthermore, having animals in shop windows encourages impulse purchases, and adding an animal to your family should be a conscious, careful decision - NOT one to be made while shoe shopping.

Breeders contribute enormously to the tragic statistics above too. And it doesn't matter whether they're professional breeders or backyard breeders, and whether they breed for profit or not, because while there are homeless animals sitting on death row in shelters, any and all animal breeding is utterly irresponsible.

Now, here's where you come in. You can either be part of the problem or part of the solution. You can either buy animals from puppy mills, petshops or breeders and be part of the problem. Or you can adopt from a shelter or rescue organisation and be part of the solution.

If I haven't convinced you, visit your local shelter to see the homeless animals. Let their innocent faces convince you that adopting is the only responsible choice to make.

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