Las Vegas residents enjoy beautiful weather with a mild winters, beautiful spring and fall and hot summers. Most desert foliage is safe for your dog but there are a few things Las Vegas residents should know about owning dogs.
Las Vegas is hot!
The summer heat is number one on this list because it presents the most danger to your dog. Never under any circumstances leave your dog in a parked car. Interior temperatures can quickly rise to to dangerous levels and it is illegal. Leaving the car running is also dangerous, it is possible for your pup to hit the gear shift into neutral and send your car into dangerous traffic. The good news is that many stores are pet friendly. When you take Fido out to run errands, try taking him inside stores that welcome dogs.
If possible, carry your dog from your car into the store. That pavement is very hot and can burn your dog’s paws in a matter of seconds. Not sure? Press the back side of your hand on the surface of the ground and test it out. If you experience a burning sensation in your hand, park close to the store or place your pup in a shopping cart until you get into the store. If your workplace is pup friendly, consider taking your dog to work for at least part of the day.
Dogs with short noses have a harder time cooling the air they breathe. These dogs are called Bachycephalic breeds (Greek for short-headed) and they consist of Pugs, Boston Terriers, Bulldogs, Pugs, Pekingese, Lhasa Apso, Shih Tzus, Chihuahuas and others. These pups are susceptible to BOAS or Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome. This condition means that they must work much harder to breathe and experience reduced airflow to their lungs.
Watch for heat stroke symptoms such as breathing difficulties, noisy breathing, high pitched wheezing, choking, extended periods of open mouth breathing, vomiting, glazed eyes and seizures. These can all be signs that your pup is running too hot and needs to immediately be moved inside.
Time to exercise!
During times of extreme heat, exercise such as walks, hikes and dog park visits should be limited to early morning and late evening. If it is warmer than 89.6 degrees, you should consider not walking your dog outside. The maximum temperature for Brachycephalic breeds should be even cooler than that and should be based on your specific pup’s characteristics. Dogs are not good at adapting to heat like humans can. Just because your pup has lived in the desert all her life, she won’t be any better at regulating her body temperature than a pup who is new to the desert.
So what about winter? What is the coolest temperature to take your pup for a walk? Anything below 32 degrees is going to be the coolest that you should walk smaller breed pups and those with short coats. For pups with coats and larger breeds, 20 degrees is the lowest temperature that you should consider for outdoor exercise. If your pup is shivering, anxious, slowing down or whining it is best to consider going back inside.
Regardless of temperature, it is important to bring water with you on your walk. A small collapsible bowl and water bottle is an important part of your dog-walk kit even in more moderate temperatures. If you live near an indoor facility like our partner organization Barx Parx or the numerous indoor dog play facilities around the country, you can consider playing at other times. It is still key to make sure that your dog is staying hydrated and watch for those key indicators about exhaustion. Also watch the hot pavement as you enter or exit facilities of any kind.
Use your brain!
Ok we get it. Summers are hot and winters are cold. Night-time is dark and there can be spooky predators. The good news is that while exercise is important, mental stimulation can just as exhausting. Brain games, socialization, treat dispensing toys, trick training and indoor obstacle courses can be wonderful ways to create a mentally exhausting and fun day for your pup. Interactive toys encourage them to chew, lick, explore and sniff their surroundings. Mental stimulation allows your dog to stay healthy and happy and can also prevent behaviors linked to boredom such as barking, digging or even chewing your couch.
Brain games can help dogs with emotional challenges like separation anxiety too. If you play a few brain games with your dog before leaving for work, she may be too exhausted to stress when you leave for work. One of the other benefits of brain games is confidence boost as he or she is successful and masters various games. Some breeds are smarter than others so you may have to adapt different game types. While stores sell many types of brain games, it is easy to create homemade enrichment toys that are very inexpensive.
Time for a haircut!
We all like to have a nice haircut to make us feel clean well-groomed and your pup is no exception. Your dog’s coat does a great job of keeping him or her cool in the summer by providing protection from the suns rays just as it provides warmth by retaining heat in the winter. Some pet parents want to shave their dog for summer including the undercoat but this can actually increase your pup’s risk of heat stroke and sunburn. If in doubt, speak to a professional groomer for recommendations about your dog’s specific coat type.