It’s that time of year again to do some spring cleaning and adjust our daily routines now that the days are getting longer, the sun is brighter, and the weather is heating up.

I think it’s safe to say that the snow is officially gone from most regions of the country. (Please tell me I didn’t just jinx us Utah folks!) Although the TV weather person can tell us one thing, we all know that Mother Nature can surprise us with plans of her own. In these cases we just have to go with the flow.

Thankfully, the sun is now more reliable day in and day out. What this means is the dogs can be outside more often, but we now have to keep a close eye out that the temperature doesn’t get too harsh too quickly.

For those of us with kennels – and, let’s just say, many dogs to care for – it’s always a tricky task to get into the groove of things as the seasons change. Just when a routine has been established, the temperature shifts. One day it’s snowing, and the next day the sun is out, followed by a rainy couple of days. It can be challenging to turn around and manage the dogs under these always changing conditions!

So how do we go about transitioning our kennel schedule on a day-to-day and season-to-season basis, and what are some of the things we can focus on now that the weather is heating up?

For those of us who live in a winter wonderland, this time of year gives us a few reasons to say, “Whew, thank goodness we don’t need to do that anymore!” Fewer blankets and cozy beds mean less laundry and lower electric bills! Another thing that we can forget about is using those space heaters, because those things can be a pain in the butt! I feel like I’m always tripping over them.

Of course, our number one focus is always our dogs’ well-being, no matter the temperature. During hot weather, care should be taken to avoid serious situations from happening, so fresh water and a shaded, cool place to rest should always be available. It’s a good idea to start thinking about scheduling meals and potty times around the heat of the day too.

As far as meals go, something I learned while assisting professional handlers is that the warmer the weather, the later the dogs should be fed. Some of you might ask, “Why would that particularly matter?” Well, one BIG reason is to avoid the potential dangers some breeds encounter when they’re fed in hot weather.

When it’s hot outside, our dogs will be hot, and when dogs are hot they drink more water. Water is great for our dogs, but as many of you probably know, it’s not always so good to mix drinking extra water with the dogs’ feeding time. Some dogs are prone to bloat, or gastric dilatation volvulus (GDV). Drinking too much water too fast, or drinking too much water before or after eating, is believed to contribute to bloat. Because of this, it’s always a good idea to wait until the temperature cools down before feeding these doggies their dinner.

Another thing to keep in mind – something my mom and I like to do at our kennel – is to let the dogs out in increments. Some go out for a little while, then back inside to cool down while another group goes outside for its turn. This way, the whole pack doesn’t get overheated!

Transitioning from winter to summer – and back again – isn’t always the most entertaining task for a kennel manager. However, spring-cleaning the dogs’ areas can leave us with a renewed feeling of accomplishment. With just a little effort, reorganizing can let in some of that spring sunshine and create much-needed space for the warm weather equipment – like that kiddie pool the dogs love so much!

Let me know what you do differently now that the weather is changing by leaving a comment below.

Dogs Freakin’ Rule!