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  • Robert Berkelhammer, M.Ed.

Bottoms Up! Hosing Summertime Dogs from Paws and Legs First, Up to Back and Head Last


Heat radiating off sidewalks, asphalt roads, and driveways may range from 90- 120 degrees in summertime. I often hose down a dog before the walk to cool them down and protect them from overheating and burning paw pads. Wet paws and dripping legs may provide some comfort for dog paws when you have intermittent grass and shaded areas combined with sun heated areas. A soaked dog with water soaked paws, legs, hips, belly, back, chest, and head will be more relaxed and joyous in high heat. Their internal physiology will be aided in a cooling off soak on a walk.

Dogs can be leashed up for quicker hosing down. Stepping on the leash will free up your hands and keep your dog nearby for the hosing if they choose to stray.

I prefer hosing off a dog from the paws up, not starting with the head or back. Dogs seem to appear startled if you hose down the back or head first, perhaps due the concentration of nervous system physiology in their heads and spine. Starting with the paws, legs, and hips will prepare your pooch for the belly and chest areas, followed by the back and head.

Outdoor hoses may contain very hot water in them when exposed to summer sun. Remember to drain out the hot water by spraying it away from your dog. You will feel cooler comfortable water after the hot water drains. The transitional draining time of hot water to safe temperature can be 30 seconds to 2 minutes.

Hoses and nozzles have different settings for use. Dogs are safest with a gentle thick spray, which may be labeled on some apparatus as RINSE or SPRAY. Conversely, the JET setting is unsafe for your dog's ears, eyes, snout, and psychology.

Young children should have adult oversight when hosing a dog. Water powered out of a narrow nozzle or jet setting can scare or damage a dog if sprayed in the ears, eyes, or snout. Make sure children keep the hose water on the correct adjustment. Teenagers distracted by cell phones while hosing down a dog can be problematical if the spray hits the dogs’ eyes, ears, or snout.

Dog owners can introduce the outdoor water faucet and hose to pet professionals during the registration meeting. Leaving a bowl next to the hose supports the dog in hot weather, and may reduce their impulses to drink dirty water out of gutters, street puddles, and open containers on the walk. Offer the dog fresh water before the summertime walk. Bon-voyage!

Robert Berkelhammer is the Author of Pet Care Givers & Families: Getting the Most From Dog Playgroups, Pet Sitters, and Walkers. Also, see our MULTI-USE FAMILY PET CARE CONTRACT, a must-have organizing tool for you, your family, pet care professionals, and most importantly your pets! www.robertberkelhammer.com

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