Summer is a great season to be a dog. Hikes, and beach days are just some of the things that make most dogs literally jump for joy. However, there are plenty of ways our dogs can get hurt during these active months. No need to worry. With this list of tips, you and your dog will be enjoying the summer weather without a care in the world.
Beating the Heat
It should come as no surprise that heat poses a major risk for dogs in during the hottest months. Unlike us, dogs can’t shed their furry coats like we can with layers of clothing. So, while you are lounging in swim-wear, your dog might be struggling to stay cool under all that hair. In extreme cases, dogs can get heat stroke, which is signified by excessive panting and drooling, vomiting, and collapse. If you suspect your dog of suffering from heatstroke, you will want to make an immediate trip to the vet. With these tips, hopefully it will not come to that.
Walk Your Dog at Cool Times Of Day
The temperature between the hours of 11AM and 5 PM can be sweltering for a dog. Consider taking your dog out when the sun isn’t directly overhead, beating down on your dog’s fur. The outdoor temperature drops significantly before 10AM and after 7PM. Plus, getting a head start on the day by going out in the morning can make you feel good too. And if you’re not a morning person, surely you can appreciate a nice summer sunset.
Keep Off the Pavement
Walking around with bare feet on hot pavement is no pleasant experience for us humans. And while your dog’s paws may be more used to rugged terrain, walking on surfaces hot enough to cook an egg is no treat for them either. Give their paw pads a break and take them to a park or a wooded trail so they can run around on the grass or in the shade.
Don’t Leave Your Dog in a Car
Every summer, local news broadcasts across the country air multiple stories about dogs (and children) who are left inside hot cars and do not make it out alive. And yet, every year, more cases pop up. So just in case you are one of the few people who remain unaware of the dangers of leaving your pets in a hot car, this tip is for you. Don’t do it. The inside of a vehicle can rise to 120 degrees in mere minutes, quickly turning the car into a death chamber for our furry friends. Even with the windows cracked, consequences are often fatal.
Instead, get a friend to watch your dog, or use the drive through. You could also reward pet friendly stores with your business and bring your dog shopping with you. None of us want to see our pets die of heatstroke, so make sure your dog is in a safe place when you run your errands.
Give Your Dog Cooling Options
When you’re hot, what do you do? Perhaps you turn on a fan or mix up an icy cold beverage. Your dog might appreciate the same opportunities. Consider tilting a fan to ground level so the dog can enjoy the cool breeze. You could also add ice cubes to its water to turn down your dog’s core temperature. Your dog might not be able to enjoy a nice slushy piña colada, but some cool ice water on a hot day is something both humans and dogs can enjoy.
Keep an Eye on Your Dog’s Water Levels
During the hot summer months, your dog will surely be drinking more water. Your dog is using the water to survive so it is important that you keep it replenished on a frequent and consistent basis. If you are lucky, you might even live near some trails with water fountains and taps for dogs. Try to frequent these areas on your walks.
Engage in Proper Grooming
The state of your dog’s coat is very important when the temperature rises. It needs to be long enough so that it is protected from the sun, but also manicured to the extent that your dog can be comfortable in the heat. Brush your dog regularly to untangle your dog’s coat and get rid of excess hair. You may even consider giving your dog a haircut (with guidance from your vet).
Avoiding Environmental Hazards
The heat isn’t the only thing dogs and their humans need to watch out for during the summer months. During the summer, there are numerous dangers in the environment which can negatively impact your dog’s health. Here are some things to look out for.
You and your neighbors want to enjoy your yards without having to deal with pesky bugs ruining the party, but you may want to think about how the insecticides being used may impact your dog. How heavy-duty are these insecticides? Are they safe for your dog to be around? What if your dog ate something that was sprayed with these chemicals? These are questions you need to ask yourself before you allow your dog to run freely in the yard.
One major kind of pesticide to avoid is disulfoton pesticide. Ingestion of this pesticide by dogs can lead to seizures, vomiting, diarrhea and even death. Even more troubling, is the fact that disulfoton pesticide is particularly appetizing to dogs, like a toxic salad dressing. Dog owners are advised not to use this sort of pesticide in their yards.
If worrying about harmful insecticides wasn’t bad enough, we also need to be aware of all of the parasitic insects whose populations surge in the summer. Fleas, ticks, chewing lice, mites and mosquitos all want to feast on the delicious, nutritious (from a bug’s perspective) blood of your dog, which can lead to heartworms, Lyme disease and many other terrible conditions. In many cases, if these conditions are left untreated, the consequences can be fatal. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to combat these tiny blood-sucking critters and prevent heartworm and other diseases.
In order to prevent flea and tick infestations, a monthly preventative flea medication is a great option. Flea medications like Frontline Plus kill adult fleas as well as their eggs/larvae, making your dog’s coat inhospitable to fleas. Frontline Plus also kills ticks. Advantage for dogs is another option if you are just trying to target fleas. If you are worried about heartworm, speak to your vet about getting a preventative heartworm medication like Heartgard Plus or Nuheart.
Much like insecticide, fertilizer can be toxic to dogs. They can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and even death. If you come across freshly fertilized soil during your walks or on your neighbor’s lawn, don’t let your dog play in it.
You may want to go the chemical route to getting rid of the weeds in your garden and driveway, but give it a second thought. The chemicals in many herbicides can be harmful to your dog. If you have neighbors who use herbicide, keep your dog away from their lawns until such time that the treatment has been absorbed by the ground below. If you really want to play it safe, a natural alternative to chemical herbicides is corn gluten meal which is considered to be safe for dogs.
Like any one of us, most dogs love a nice dip in the ocean or pool on a hot day. However, our dogs may not be fully aware of all of the chemicals us humans have applied to them. If you are down by a beach, take care to ensure that the particular beach has not been the site of any oil spills, or waste/chemical dumping. If you are by a swimming pool, know that chlorine can be a skin irritant to dogs and can also lead to an upset stomach if ingested at high volumes. To avoid your dog ingesting pool water, ensure that your dog is getting enough fresh water outside the pool. You may even want to get a small kiddie pool just for your dog and fill it up with the hose.
Many common allergies in dogs are in full swing during the summer months. This includes pollen, mold, and fleas. If you are not aware of any particular allergies in your dog, be on the lookout. The signs of allergic reaction in dogs are much like those in humans. Itching, sneezing, coughing are all indicators that your dog’s allergies could be acting up. If you suspect your dog might be allergic to something in its environment, talk to a veterinarian. They may prescribe an atopic dermatitis medication like Atopica or they may advise you to give your dog an Anti-allergen pet shampoo.
After reading this, it may sound as though summer is fraught with danger and peril for dogs. Don’t worry. Now that you know what to look out for and the best practices of dealing with the summer environment, you and your dog are already ahead of the game.