Dogs are relatively tolerant to cold weather but not to extreme heat. This is because they rarely sweat and cannot regulate their body temperature as humans can. It is no wonder that summer is a difficult season for Akita dogs, whose large bodies are covered with thick-fluffy fur. Here are some measures that Akita dog breeders and owners take to help their dogs survive the heat.
Noshiro Kojuso is a kennel for Akita dogs in Noshiro City, Akita. Around this hot time of the year, three large fans are in full operation 24 hours a day in the kennel, where more than ten dogs live together.
Motose Junichi, a breeder of this kennel, said, “I always make sure to block out the sun and keep the fresh air blowing in here.”
At Noshiro Kojuso, there are two types of shading sheets, and reed screens installed to keep out the intense late afternoon sun. On the day of the interview, the temperature in Noshiro rose to 29.9 degrees Celsius, and the windows on the walls were fully open. If the temperature rises any higher, the window sashes are removed to allow for more air circulation. Mr. Motose also mentioned that he would sprinkle water around the kennel or water the roof to cool it down.
Inside the kennel, wooden boards lay on the concrete floor in the shape of a duckboard. They are placed to create a space between the floor and let the wind blow in under the dogs’ feet.
When Mr. Motose came into the kennel, the puppies less than one-year-old came to play with him. On the other hand, most of the older dogs were lying down and stayed quietly in their cages.
“It is hot today, but we can bear the heat. Last September was terrible. The highest temperature rose to 37.7 degrees Celsius. We bought seven 20-kg bags of ice and scattered them on the floor, but they melted in about an hour,” said Mr. Motose with a witty smile.
While bringing in fresh air is important, it is also essential to take measures against mosquitoes. They carry a parasite called filaria, which can threaten the dogs’ lives. At the entrance and inside the kennel, mosquito coils are lit to keep away mosquitoes and harmful parasites.
Ample and sufficient amounts of food is another concern this time of year. Mr. Motose shared his thoughts, saying, “Dogs lose their physical strength very quickly if they eat less than usual. When they have diarrhea, I give them probiotics immediately and make sure they eat enough food so that they will not suffer from summer fatigue.”
Similar protections are taken at Akita Inu Fureaidokoro in Senshu Park in Akita City. Staff positioned three fans around the fence, which surrounds the Akita dogs. There are also reed screens on the west side of the fence to protect the dogs from the sunshine.
At the Akita Inu Fureaidokoro, dogs who have been raised by members of the Akita Dog Preservation Society appear, taking turns one by one. Thanks to the shade provided by the trees, it feels remarkably cooler in the park than in the city. But if the heat is expected to be too intense, the dog exhibition is canceled.
Enoki Seisuke, who brought his beloved four-year-old female dog Harukahime to exhibit, said, “During the hot season, I take my dog for a walk around five in the morning, and when it gets cooler in the evening. I closely watch her breathing to know if she gets tired and give her oral rehydration solution when necessary.”
Akita Inu no Sato, a museum complex and tourist destination, introduced a unique idea. They lay stone mats made of stone from lake Towada in a section of the exhibition room. Now, dogs can lie down on the stone mats to cool off.
It has become a favorite place for the dogs at Akita Inu no Sato during the summer months. Museum Director Sato Kazuhiro said, “Some owners say, ‘If the dogs like the mats so much, I want to put it at my house, too.’”
Pet stores are also selling goods to help prevent the heat. In Goshono, Akita City, a shop is selling ice pillows and gel mats to provide relief from the hot summer days.
According to the store clerk, aluminum sheets to block the heat or cool-to-the-touch mats are extremely popular.