Summer and Autumn Dog Walks: Watch for Heatstroke and Grass Seed
How to Prevent Heatstroke and Grass Seed Complications in Dogs
Late summer and autumn is my favourite time of year for walks with my Labradoodle, Florrie. The days are long, the ground dry and the weather reliably warm. This means we can head over to the fields near our home for a walk without getting muddy. This is good news because we don’t get in trouble for getting dirty when we get home!
Keeping Cool in Summer
The downside is that dogs can get heatstroke if they spend too much time out in the sun, especially when they are active and running around. When it is particularly hot, Florrie and I usually walk along the bank of a stream where there is more shade. Florrie can get lots of drinks of fresh cool water too whenever she is thirsty!
Other dogs leap straight in the stream to cool off and play, but not Florrie! She stands on tippy-toe and leans from the safety of the bank without getting her paws wet! She can be very ladylike!
How Do Dogs Cool Themselves Off?
Dogs are not as efficient at releasing heat as us humans. We have sweat glands everywhere but dogs only have a few in their feet and around their noses. They rely on panting to cool themselves down.
Signs of heatstroke in dogs include:
- excessive panting
- dry, pale gums
- rapid or erratic pulse
If you suspect your dog is suffering from heatstroke, then get them somewhere cool and dampen their head, feet and tail with tepid or cool (but not cold) water. Heatstroke is an emergency—always see a vet.
Grass Seed Problems
In late summer and autumn, the lush, green grass growth from spring is starting to dry out and set seed. Although it is still great fun for Florrie to run through at full doodle speed, this means that when she arrives home, Florrie spends the rest of the day scattering grass seed around the house like a salt cellar! We seem to constantly follow her around with the vacuum cleaner hoovering up the mess!
How to Tell If Your Dog Has a Grass Seed or Foxtail
The other downside of grass seed is that it can get caught in your dogs’ fur and then burrow into the skin, particularly around the paws and ears. In rare cases, grass seed can travel to other parts of the body and even get lodged in your dogs’ lungs.
If you look closely, a grass seed is shaped like an arrowhead with a sharp point which can pierce the skin. So if you see your dog shaking its head, limping or licking a sore spot after a walk in long grass then a grass seed might be the problem. If that is the case then seek advice from a vet.
How to Prevent Grass Seed Issues in Your Dog
The best way to prevent the problem is to avoid long grass completely! But that would be a shame! So a good solution is to give your dog a good grooming once you get home and tease out any trapped grass seeds before they cause a problem. Enjoy the last of the summer sun!