Summer is such a wonderful time for us and our dogs to spend time together outdoors. Our dogs love summer (well, most of them do!) just as much as we do. It is a great time to be out and about, to enjoy exercising, to play fun games or to take them along with us to summer events. Oh, the fun is endless! But to enjoy all this fun, some preparation is required. Here are some of the most important summer safety tips you can, and should, practice to keep this summer a safe one for your furry friends.
Never leave your dog in a hot car: no doubt many of you know of this, and yet many dogs die every summer due to heat stroke. It takes only a few minutes for a dog to develop heat stroke and suffocate in a car, so don’t take the chance! Leave your fur buddy at home or take them with you when you leave the car. Not convinced yet? Keep this in mind: a car parked under a shade can reach up to 90 degrees on a over 70 degrees kind of day, a car parked directly under the sun can reach a temperature up to 160 degrees!
Keep the paws cool: when temperatures are high, surfaces like asphalt or metal get very hot and can burn their paws. Not only that, it can also increase body temperature and lead to overheating. Be sure to protect their feet from getting scorched. Best advice? Be aware of hot surfaces and walk your dog on the grass, if possible. Summer booties are also a great option, if your dog don’t mind wearing them.
Fresh water ad libitum: make sure your furry buddy has plenty of clean, fresh water. Dogs get much thirstier than we do when they get hot, panting and drinking are really the only ways they use to cool themselves down. And remember, dehydration occurs quickly so make sure the bowls and/or water containers are set up so they don’t tip over.
Provide shade: keep your dog in the shade as often as possible. While dogs like to sunbathe, direct sunlight can overheat them (and cause heat stroke). They can also get sunburn, especially shot-haired dogs and the ones with pink skin and white hair. Limit your dog’s exposure when the sun heat is at its peak and apply sunblock to their ears and nose before going outside (check out my blog: ‘Should you apply sunscreen on your dog?’ for more information about sunscreening your dog).
Water Activities: contrary to what many believe, not all dogs like water or are good swimmers. If you plan on spend some time by a pool side or swim on a lake, river or ocean, try to stay close to your dog.
Is your dog entering the water for the first time? Perhaps they are not a big fan of water? Don’t force them! Let them take their time. They might enjoy starting up with a kiddy pool.
Is your dog ready for an outdoor adventure and get all wet? It is important they walk to the water on their own, never throw them in the water. Start in shallow water. Watch their limbs doggy-paddle and don’t force them into swimming for long periods of time, swimming can be exhausting, make sure you are in reach of your dog when he/she is swimming.
If you bring your dog on a boat or canoe, a life jacket is just as important for your dog as it is for you. Also, prevent your dog from drinking the water. Salt water can cause dehydration, vomiting, and diarrhea. Water in lakes, ponds and rivers may contain parasites and bacterias that can infect your dog. Providing plenty of fresh, clean water for drinking is the best way to go.
Keep the leash on: summertime means all sorts of exciting sights, scents, critters running around and new places to explore. You don’t want to lose your dog because he/she became distracted, and remember, not every dog is meant to be off-leash. Make sure your dog has proper identification at all times, a collar with an ID tag along with a tattoo or a microchip are the best practice to follow.
These are just a few summer safety tips and DEFINITELY not all there is! You should still have your dog’s vaccination up to date and make sure he/she is protected from parasites like fleas, ticks and mosquitoes. Keep an eye on what your dog is chewing on, its BBQ season and certain meat bones can be dangerous if ingested. And if in doubt, consult with your veterinarian.
Perhaps the most important tip is to pay attention to you dog - you will know when he/she seems uncomfortable. Summer is a GREAT time to spend with your dog!