Kyoto Summer. Where to begin. Summer in Japan is interesting. Lovely cloudless blue sky coupled with a warm breeze, humidity to make you loose 50% of your body weight in sweat (this maybe an exaggeration however you DO sweat a lot here!!) and if you are not Japanese, a great way to get a tan. Then there is the heat. I swear on some days you could cook a literal full on Sunday roast just from placing it outside in the heat – its that hot. Thats Japan in general. Kyoto takes all of this and says hold my beer.
So imagine being a Hokkaido mix with two layers of fur being brought to Kyoto from a mountainous region north of Osaka where there is to a degree plenty of shade and crisp clear mountain water. To then being kept inside with open windows, fans and ice cubes/chips in your water to simulate the cold crisp water and walking in the evening when its cooler and very early morning before the intense heat hits. This is what our first summer in Kyoto together looks like and it isn’t pretty nor always glamorous!
As mentioned in the previous blog, I took Sasuke to the vets because he wasn’t doing so well. This was a result of continuous observations and noting changes in behavioral patterns through out the course of May, June, July and now August. Over the course of May and June our walks have naturally petered down from 4 hours a day to about 3 as we were both starting to feel the heat in the morning and in the evening. By June and through July, here in Japan it’s the rainy season. The humidity skyrockets and the pressure is intense. Thunderstorms are common crashing over the mountains surrounding Kyoto and it does nothing to break the pressure. Sasuke feels all of this acutely because of his coat being two layers and although it acts like its own cooling system, it still doesn’t stop the excess panting and heavy breathing he does to mitigate the heat and sweat. Another point is that his food intake and more importantly his water intake decreased dramatically, even though he was also drinking on our walks from the river. That right there was a huge red flag, also because I didn’t know if this was common during summer for native breeds.
I invested, before June, in some cooling wraps which use water and the freezer to help decrease a dogs heart rate when panting and cools them down simultaneously. I bought three and thank goodness I did because they have been a lifesaver throughout the night for Sasuke. He doesn’t like them but they do work (disclaimer here, they don’t work on every dog all the time so please do research to find out whats best for your dog/breed) and he is less restless and not panting as heavily throughout the night. By July we were at the vets and (spoiler alert) given the all clear. Now I monitor him even more carefully, sometimes to the point of micro monitoring and make sure he has iced water available 24/7 – even during the middle of the night. Iced cubes are a great way to help Sasuke to keep drinking without being overloaded, its cool enough for him and he also likes the crunch of the cubes. He still has his cooling wrap on when Im at work, but no longer during the night. Since August began, the brutal humidity broke and now its simply heat and sweat – a little bit more manageable. He also has a home made cooling mat. And by homemade I mean its a towel I bought for him to dry off after playing in the river. And by cooling mat I mean I wet the towel in cold water and lay it on his bed for him to sit on. It took some time but now he enjoys it.
As for his food intake he is still greedy however I halved it in the morning and it is only dry kibble. In the evening he has a bigger dinner and its a mixture of safe human food, kibble and some wet dog food. Never a dull moment in this house I can tell you. We will both be glad when these dog days of summer break and Autumn and Winter arrive.
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