Our basset hounds get attention where ever we go. There is something about their stout little crooked knees, deep chest and long ears, with the long back and white tipped tail that elicits smiles of complete strangers.
“Are those Sausage Dogs?” We are often asked.
I personally think “Sausage Dog” is the nickname of the Dachshund, and “Hush Puppy” is the correct misnomer for a Basset Hound, but to each their own. Regardless of what you call them, the Basset Hound during summer time, is not so much a “Sausage Dog” as it is a “hot dog”.
As a breed, Bassets tend to be more sensitive to overheating than other breeds. On hot days you can find them laid out on the floor in the direct path of the fans cooling relief. They drink, and drink, and drink.
We save our walks until late at night during hot weather, though taking them very early in the morning is also an option. Sonny can’t cope with heat at all, and our normal walk in hot weather leads to uncomfortable fast respiration, excessive panting and pacing as he tries to find a cool place to lay down.
Cooling Sonny is complicated, and dangerous business. Sonny bites, and he can almost be guaranteed to bite when he is already agitated and uncomfortable. Giving him ice cubes, wet towels, etc, must be done with ninja stealth and speed. Our uncomplicated pair of siblings, Samson and Delilah, meanwhile lay in the fan’s path and barely raise their heads for a spray down or cool treat.
Here are the tactics we use for beating the heat for the Hounds:
1. We place a wet sheet over the door. This cools the air slightly in the room as it pulls through. A fan also helps circulate the cooler air.
2. Keep blinds and curtains drawn. It is dark, but can cut the temp down a few degrees during the day.
3. Don’t go for walks in during the day, or any time where it is much hotter than your dog is used to. Remember your dog is close to the ground that has been absorbing heat all day, and it takes greater exertion to move their characteristic frames.
4. Make ice cube treats and frozen snacks. Frozen hot dogs, sausages, ice cubes of beef broth or ice cubes with a surprise treat are always welcome distractions.
5. After exertion, especially when we notice Sonny is overheated, we encourage them to lay on the cool ceramic tiling of our kitchen floor. If we go sit on the floor, the gang naturally follows. In no time, they are heading toward feeling normal again.
6. Mist them with a spray bottle of plain water. They always look a bit annoyed when we do it, but right away settle back down and enjoy the cooling effects. We spray over their heads and along their bellies.
7. Keep a hot water bottle in the freezer. or a freeze pack to ‘pet’ the hounds with. They enjoy it without protest.
8. Lay a damp towel on the floor to help with cooling.
We are still learning how to behave in the heat. In the UK, it does not get hot often, but when it does it is thick with humidity. We don’t have air conditioning and rely on fans and shade. At first we just walked the dogs like normal. They have a nice stream to play in on their walk, so we know they can stay cool, but it isn’t enough for Sonny. He has seizures and heat is a trigger for them, so our decisions of when and if to walk him on hot days can have devastating consequences.
As much as they love their daily walks, we are doubting if it is the right thing to do on hotter days. It feels wrong to forego the walk, but watching a dog struggle with heat is very distressing for us, and for him.
We would love to hear what other people do about the heat and their ‘hot dogs’. Please leave your suggestions, advice, and opinions in the comments section.