• dog health and changing seasons for dogs

Dog Pod Episode #13

Changing Seasons for Dogs

Dog Cloud CEO Scott Groves interview Award-Winning VET, Dr. Kevin Cruickshank again, and this time they chat everything to do with changing seasons and how it affects dogs. 

Learn about…

– Bed and sleeping considerations for heat of summer and cold of winter
– Think of their [your dogs] feet
– How to deal with dogs coats as they enter summer / winter
– The #1 infection seen by Dr. Kevin in colder months
– Vaccinations and what it means for longer holiday kennel stays
– Things to do for Xmas preparations
– Which season (summer or winter) keeps VETS most busy?
And why?
– Swimming, ear infections and what you should do
– Storm season: Do I give my dog a sedative or anxiety medication? Dr. Kevin’s advice
– and more….

Learn all this and more on this special episode on Changing Seasons for Dogs on this episode of Dog Pod.

Have a Question for Dr. Kevin?Follow Dog Cloud on Facebook and leave your question. We’ll aim to answer on upcoming podcast.

Want to learn more about:

Follow Dr. Kevin Cruickshank

Gold Coast Vet Surgery
Instagram @goldcoastvet

Full Dog Pod Transcript : Episode 13

Scott: Hello and welcome to another episode of Dog Pod proudly brought to you by Dog Cloud. And again, this week we have got with us. Dr. Kevin Cruickshank, our infamous vet from Gold Coast Vets Surgery here on the Gold Coast. Welcome.

Dr. Kevin Cruickshank: Thanks, Scott. We going into December.

Scott: Yes, we sure are, another warm one here in Australia. But we thought it is kind of interesting, December 1st marks are a pretty unique sort of calendar part of the year as we become — southern hemisphere of the world becomes summer and the northern hemisphere becomes rolling into winter.
So I thought it might be a really good topic to talk about changing seasons and how this affects dogs especially because winter months — that might start with winter. And talk about our friends in the northern part, it poses some unique challenges for dogs and certain considerations for dog owners as we roll into these changing seasons.

Dr. Kevin: It certainly does and you know, there is a lot of conditions that are more associated with the different seasons in here. So yes, I feel sorry for those sometimes but also jealous, those surrounded with snow and those quintessential Christmas build-up, Christmas markets, all the rest. So I think that is a really good place to start. We would look at dog — and probably the most common thing that we see with the cooling weather is that dogs that are prone to arthritis really suffer quite a bit with that. And we know people who have got sore joints, they definitely battle when the weather is cold. And it is something that creeps up on dogs sort of fairly gradually just as the season changes fairly slowly, but all of a sudden they have gone from being quite comfortable temperatures to being very cold. And you might find a dog that has been coping and coping, you have not seen symptoms of arthritis. Suddenly almost very often had dogs where people had fun up he just collapsed, he cannot get up now and they have not noticed any gradual changes and that colder weather has suddenly really just caused them to seize up.

Scott: The winter months are probably one of those things for dog owners as dogs start to — we have talked before in previous podcasts about the five to six years of age becomes a bit of where they start becoming a little bit more senior. It is probably a good time of year to start to look for that sort of stuff just to be a bit more conscious of as a dog owner and it is because it is going to change a lot in the next month or so for a lot of dogs.

Dr. Kevin: Yes. And so it is often something that I speak to my clients about is that even either if you know your dog has had arthritis before you starting to see things are slowing up, get them well controlled, get them comfortable before it gets really cold, and then they suddenly seized up. But if they have previously had arthritis medications and maybe in the warmer summer weather they have been able to be off that because they are more mobile and comfortable. Think about getting that started again. Some of the treatments that we have, take a while takes three to four weeks to really take effect. And so you want them in the best position they can be going into those winter months.

Scott: It is good advice. Yes.

Dr. Kevin: So I think as an only stem to where you know, what they doing during the day but affect especially where they sleeping at night. So lying on cold either wooden floorboards or tiles as opposed to lying on a nice comfortable bed, it is not just the comfort of that but actually, the insulation, getting them off the coldness of the floor. Even if your dog will tolerate having a rug or blanket put over to it as well can just keep them that little bit warmer, keep their muscles warm, keep their joints comfortable. Makes a world of a difference, very simple thing to do but really helps them.

Scott: It changes so quickly in some parts of the world too. Does not it?

Dr. Kevin: Yes.

Scott: Like I was chatting with our friends in Ukraine who, you know, within a period of just a week or two, it is gone to freezing cold zero degree temperature days which is a freezing point for most of it.

Dr. Kevin: Yes. Definitely. And so our human behavior can change with that very suddenly, you are not so appealing to go out for a walk anymore but keeping —

Scott: I was going to ask you about that.

Dr. Kevin: — keeping your dogs mobile I think is even if is a much shorter walk than normal but keeping them still walking a bit. Thinking though, when they are going out, watch out for icy patches. A dog who is no longer quite so mobile can slip a lot more easily and might splay its legs, hurt its muscles there. So be careful about where you walk, not only for your own safety but your dog’s safety. And if you are literally walking in something as cold as snow, think about actual booties for the dogs. This applies not only to older arthritic dogs but any dogs so that they cannot get frostbite on their feet. We would not like to walk around barefoot on those surfaces.

Scott: Puppies as well be more sensitive too and they would not have any conditioning on —


Dr. Kevin: And this can even also hold true for those in the warmer climates in going into summer. Be very careful, not necessarily putting booties on but remember how hot is that bitumen. If you cannot keep your hand on the concrete or the bitumen for sort of five seconds or longer, it is going to be unpleasant and very uncomfortable for your dog as well. So thinking about the surfaces that they walking on is very important. If you are using booties, they need to have time with it off because otherwise if it gets too damp and confined and there is not enough fresh air in those little shoes, they can start to get dermatitis or skin infection. Similarly, often a lot of breeds tolerate a coat very well. Make sure that those coats are well-fitting and not causing a friction point for your dog, it needs to be reasonably snug but not too tight. A dog might have put on a bit of weight since you last years used that the year ago or so. So just checking on those types of things, and again giving them a chance with it off as well so that their skin still can breathe as normal.

Scott: What do you recommend for parts of the world where the snow is so bad for a period of time where exercise becomes really difficult outside? What the people in those countries do? Is it just a matter of the dogs just adapt because they kind of live there anytime?

Dr. Kevin: I think there are a lot of the dogs do very well still they enjoy the outdoors. They want you to — they needing to go out to the toilet and that sort of thing. And if we are looking at those really extreme locations, I think people keep the appropriate breeds. I mean, we got a lot of the sled dog types of breeds, Malamutes, Siberian Huskies, they just are made for snow. They love it and really enjoy that.

Scott: I want to ask you about how their coats change too from — not in just season to season but you see this and I have asked you about this just offline before, but where you see Samoyeds or Keeshonds and they are wooly fully dogs. And then —

Dr. Kevin: They definitely develop a double coat. And that undercoat is a bit more like a down fluffy type of coat as opposed to the more waterproof sort of outer coat that they have.

Scott: Right and then so grooming practices just obviously let it grow wild for winter to have the protection and then summer months.

Dr. Kevin: Yes, so letting it, they will develop a thicker coat in those winter months. And just keep on regular brushing that if it will loosen but then they will have quite a heavier mulch or shade at the end of that winter season. And so that is probably even more relevant in warm climates that they need to get rid of that thick undercoat because of getting a skin infection underneath that type of thing.

Scott: So that would be more like I guess if we come back to the southern hemisphere where we are starting and end of the summer months, those that are the fluffier animals, the regular brushing and stuff is much more important to get the dogs cool.

Dr. Kevin: Indeed. And if they are living in that sort of climate all the time, then they will not get as thickened undercoat.

Scott: Okay. it does not develop in the first place?

Dr. Kevin: That is right. It will still be there and they still but they just would not have as thick. So those dogs that are living in that colder climate all the time, their coat adapts to that and they have a thicker warmer coat. And in a very warm climate, they do not develop as much fur and sometimes you can actually in the warmer climates find that they keep on shedding more because the body is sort of saying, grow your coat, but then it is experiencing this warm weather that is why it is shedding that and then it is growing more so you do often get a lot more shedding from those types of dogs. But it is not only those quintessential snowy styles of dogs but even breeds like Labradors and that, they develop an undercoat as well.
Because they are designed they — Labrador in Canada is a very cold part of the world and they developed for actually things like duck hunting and that sort of thing. They are retrievers, they retrieve the prey. So they designed to go into really cold water and swim and retrieve those sorts of things. So they do have that sort of outer coat that is not purely waterproof but definitely, water just comes off it, and then that is the thicker undercoat for the insulation. And I think a lot of breeds are like that.

Scott: Yes. It is interesting. Yes. I know we spoke about Labradors before the Italian water dog because they are known as great swimmers. Are they the same sort of double coat type thing, do you know? Or —

Dr. Kevin: Yes, they do develop a thicker fluffy undercoat but they probably also need a fair bit more grooming in terms of actually trimming that outer coat. Their hair is a longer fur as well.

Scott: Is there any other winter considerations for people as this dietary stuff need to change, to give them warm soups, to give —

Dr. Kevin: Not necessarily warm soups but I think just making sure that their food has got enough nutrition, often similar to rust, we see a lot of dogs putting on weight in winter because they not as active. So if you are not doing as much, say you are very active in the summer months taking your dog out on hikes and trails or whatever, and then you are not doing that in the winter, it will cut back a bit on their diet. But a good quality diet also is where they going to — in very cold climates they are going to be burning up a lot of energy to keep themselves warm. So just watching their body weights, so that is the thing that is useful.

Scott: What about dogs sleeping around open fires, is there other stuff like this that dog owners should be conscious of?

Dr. Kevin: I think it is very similar to having children, common sense prevails on that sort of thing. I am not aware of too many dogs getting burnt or injured that way but thinking about leaving or having underfloor heating and that type of thing can make it a more comfortable environment for them. And if they have gone swimming or so because really a lot of dogs, I remember when I was living in the UK, we took our dog off, he came out of quarantine and it was January so middle of winter and he was off swimming in the rivers in Wales, one-degree water probably just above freezing and he loved it, but drying them off really well after that. So it is just me and you can get your dogs used to a blow dryer even but towel drying very well to make sure that they also do not get a chill. Respiratory infections are a little bit more common in colder months and sometimes in an older dog, they can be more debilitating just like an older person, bronchitis gets worse and becomes pneumonia or that sort of thing. Some of the respiratory viruses like cooler environmental conditions so they last longer outside in the fresh air. This time of year coming around the Christmas season, a lot of us go away and travel, we may not be able to travel internationally at the moment but dogs are still going to boarding kennels. So something to think about when you have got holidays coming up, do not forget about planning that your dog’s vaccinations are up-to-date because they need those and need good immunity before they go into a boarding kennel. Making sure their coats in good condition, if it is going to be an extended stay well maybe have them groomed before they go because they would not just be missing on that grooming that is coming up. Depending on where you are in the world if those boarding kennels are in a bit more of a rural area, there might be additional risk something like tick paralysis. Certainly on the East Coast of Australia, boarding kennels off and located on a bit more acreage and that sort of thing, so making sure your dog’s tick protection is up to date. Those were the things preparing before you go away.

Scott: As you say, these switch hemispheres and come back down at the southern side where the temperatures are picking up quite dramatically here in Australia, we have had the hottest month in August, November month, I think for some years and you got storm seasons. The hot bitumen I noticed, I took my puppy Luna for a walk and she is just off the leash now in terms of vaccinations and everything. We are out and about now but the ground was very hot the other day and I consciously was trying to walk around the grass despite where she wanted to take herself. But what are some of the considerations for some, obviously dehydration water is going to be a big factor?

Dr. Kevin: Yes. And I think, obviously, this can hold true for summer times in the other parts of the world when they get to summer. It certainly is the busiest season in a vet practice is summertime, so we —

Scott: Is that globally?

Dr. Kevin: I think definitely globally, certain parts of the world especially in North America they may have a heartworm problem in the summer months but they just do not have it in the winter, so their dogs might need to go in for their heartworm testing before starting on preventatives. And then it might only be on heartworm prevention for six months of the year when they are mosquito risks. For us, it is all year round so we do not necessarily have a peak of testing and treating for heartworm, we keep doing that all year round. But the things that keep vet practices very busy in the summer months, a lot of the time skin conditions, a lot of skin allergies are a lot worse in summer months. So it is similar to the arthritis of getting things under control before the warm humid weather, the plants flowering, and a lot of the things that they allergic to. Making sure their skin allergies are under control first rather than trying to chase your tail and get them controlled once they get out of control. With that, goes ear infections, dogs that like to swim a lot getting water down in their ears, we see a lot of ear infections, unfortunately at the moment. But one that immediately comes to mind when you are talking about summer is heatstroke. And so that is not only your quintessential leaving a dog locked in a hot car or something, I think that message is really got through to people that that is not acceptable to do. But simply thinking about when you exercise them and how you exercise them. Dogs are like a five-year-old kid, they will just keep on going on as endlessly and you have got to pull them up and that is too much exercise, they will chase that ball endlessly. And naturally, they will pant to cool themselves but if it is getting excessive that they really huffing and puffing, that is the time to stop. Let them have frequent water to drink. But going out in the cooler times of the day, very important with a walk. If they are lagging and you having to pull them on the lead, notice that, do not force them to exert themselves more. If it is a small enough breed, pick them up, even carried them, or just take a rest under a tree because they will try and exert themselves to keep up with you and then reach a crisis point where they have overheated or they cannot breathe properly. And this is even more relevant to our brachycephalic breed, so those short nose breathes, so your French Bulldogs, English Bulldogs, Cavaliers, all those types of breeds, boxes and a larger breed of dog, they cannot pant as much, they cannot cool themselves as much. So we have got to be sensible about when we exercise them.

Scott: Yes, great. That is excellent advice. What about — so something crosses in my mind, you see some dogs who are really sort of frantic and behaviourally with storms. We are getting a lot of thunderstorms hit now and what —

Dr. Kevin: Definitely something that —

Scott: — injure themselves and trying to get through fences.

Dr. Kevin: I had dogs jump through glass windows even, so paranoid and scared. So technology helps us actually quite a bit nowadays, you can get so many apps that can predict a storm coming because really you want to get the anti-anxiety medication into them before the storm arrives. Once they are anxious already, any of the different medication options are far less effective. So it is definitely something — have a chat with your vet if you know that your dog gets a bit anxious. There are lots of different options that can suit your individual circumstances. Most of them are something you will just give medication when you know they are going to be at high risk of stress. So that might even be a trip to the dog groomer, a trip to the vet, or a storm, New Year’s Eve fireworks. And you can give a medication a few hours before and it is not a sedative or tranquilizer because some of the oldest ways of doing it with just a sedative, the dog looks punked out and calm but it is actually just sedated. It still experiences the fear but then cannot do anything about it and runs away and it actually gets more fearful. Whilst if we actually using an anti-anxiety medication, it is not just sedating them but they are more rational in how they respond to those noises and that. So there is a lot that can be done with anxiety, definitely schedule a behavioral consultation with your vet. We are well trained in those sorts of things and can really help a lot. And as we kind of wrap up, I think just some of the other things that we see more commonly in summer months are lots of vomiting and diarrhea. And that is probably also people are out and about doing things with their dogs, their dogs might be scrounging, finding something they should not have eaten, but a lot of the dogs are more, you know, like the warm environment and hang around in the environment for a bit longer. So they can get very dehydrated, vomiting and diarrhea for a few days. So do not hesitate in taking your dog to the vet especially vomiting, you know, a bit of diarrhea may settle after a day or two but a vomiting dog can be very minor or it can be very serious. That is one thing and get those itchy skins under control early because it is so much harder once there is a lot more infections going on.

Scott: Kevin, does the sweating contribute to the itchy skin?

Dr. Kevin: They actually do not perspire or sweat anywhere else on their body but at their pores, and that is why they can only cool themselves by panting. And so probably a great tip to start to round-up is if you are going walking in the heat, wet your dog before you walk. Do not try and cool it down when you have come back, but actually, it will tolerate, you just spray it with a bit of water before you go out on your walk. That evaporating water will cool them in the same way that us perspiring cools us. And then when you get home, you have got to dry dog and hopefully not to hot dog rather than bathing them or hosing them when you get back and they have already overheated.

Scott: Yes, that is great advice. Excellent. I love that. And I thought maybe just finally one quick question, as we coming into Christmas and it is not really related to summer winter so much but the food with humans and there is an excess of food at Christmas.

Dr. Kevin: There is.

Scott: This stuff laying around —

Dr. Kevin: A lot of leftovers as well.

Scott: A lot of leftovers and stuff. Any tips, Christmas tips, and we could do another episode on this but —

Dr. Kevin: I think it is a whole topic as well but definitely avoiding giving them a lot of, say the leftover ham, it is very fatty meat and it can trigger something called pancreatitis. Raisins can be quite toxic and poisonous to dogs, so fruitcake and that sort of thing, Christmas cake that they get hold of.

Scott: We may have stumbled on another episode.

Dr. Kevin: And there is a lot of chocolate around Christmas as well. We have had dogs that have actually opened up presents under the tree and it consumed a whole box of Lindt Chocolates or something like that. So great topic, maybe next week when we look at the risks around Christmas for dogs.

Scott: Yes, fantastic. Well, Dr. Kevin, thanks very much for joining us again. Welcome everybody to summer and winter, it is a beautiful time of year, it is great. The changing seasons often gives us a bit of a break from what we had in the previous few months.

Dr. Kevin: And you know, Christmas holidays are a great time to spend time with your dog, wherever you live in the world, enjoy it and do the safety as you can and I suppose keep tuning in for some more tips around this time.

Scott: Yes, absolutely. Well, thanks again, Kevin, and we will look forward to seeing everybody in the next episode.

Dr. Kevin: Good stuff. Thanks, Scott.