Summertime means sun, fun, and outdoor activities, many of which you can share with your dog. However, longer daytime hours and warmer temperatures bring hazards along with them. Be aware of those summer hazards so that you can enjoy a carefree and safe summer with your best friend!
1. Be Cool
Always be on the lookout for heat exhaustion. It starts with heat stress and heavy panting, often accompanied by dry or bright red gums, thick drooling, vomiting or diarrhea, or wobbly legs. This is dangerous territory for a dog and can lead to brain damage or death. Know the signs and learn how to prevent it.
Keep it cool indoors with a fan or air conditioning. If it’s too warm for you, it’s certainly too warm for an animal in a furry coat!
Never ever leave a dog in the car, even for a short period of time. Even with windows cracked open, inside temperatures can rise 20 degrees in as little as 7 minutes and be deadly to your pet.
Walk with caution: hot asphalt can burn sensitive foot pads, and dogs can overheat quickly in high temps and humidity. Save any vigorous activity for cooler early morning or evenings hours.
2. Sunscreen, Please
Skin cancer is a common form of cancer in dogs, and even though the fur provides some sun protection, your pet needs a sunblock applied every 3-4 hours on their least hair-covered spots: belly, ears, and nose. Use sun protection made specifically for pets so you know it’s safe: an ingredient like zinc oxide can be toxic to pets.
Keep your pet groomed for the season. Many dog owners trim the fur in the hot summer months, be sure to leave at least a full inch of fur as protection to help prevent sunburn!
3. Water Hazards
Just because dogs instinctively know how to swim doesn’t mean they know how to get out of a pool. If they jump into your pool, they may not be able to get out without help and could drown. Teach your dog an exit strategy by using the stairs with him 5 to 10 times in a row to help him learn where they are. A pet pool ramp in the deep end is something else to consider.
Going boating? Be sure doggie wears a life vest in a bright color to help stay visible and afloat in the event of an accident.
When in the ocean, lakes, rivers or streams be aware of currents and riptides that can sweep a dog out to sea or send them tumbling downstream. Some lakes with a high algae content can produce a toxin that can make dogs severely ill. Be very careful where you choose to let them cool off.
4. Bug Out Summer Parasites
Fleas, ticks and mosquitoes put your dog at risk for nasty and dangerous conditions. Protect them from heartworm, Lyme disease, and Rocky Mountain spotted fever by asking your vet for the appropriate medical prescriptions. A veterinarian can also recommend a pet-friendly insect repellent in a safe, botanical blend. Hookworms and heartworms are more prevalent in summer months and often gain access to your pet through the pads of the feet. Don’t neglect the treatments that will send these pests packing.
5. Guard the Garden
Choose pet-friendly plants to make sure your pups are safe. The azalea is a common backyard shrub that can make your dog very ill if ingested, causing drooling, vomiting, heart arrhythmias and abnormal heart rate. Colorful heliotrope is also highly toxic, causing total liver destruction. Lock up the rose and garden plant foods containing insecticides that are potentially fatal compounds for your dog. Other lawn care products and fertilizers can cause an allergic reaction. Speak with your vet for recommendations about safer products to use.
6. Check the Garage
Summer is also the most common time for cars to overheat and radiators to boil over. Watch out for antifreeze spills and puddles, cleaning them up thoroughly and immediately. Just a few licks of antifreeze could be deadly to your pup.
7. Safer Cookouts
Dogs love to steal from the grill and they savor those meaty aromas. Don’t share! Barbecue scraps and fatty leftovers can give your pup pancreatitis, resulting in severe abdominal pain or even death. Other no-no’s include corn on the cob and peach pits, which can lodge in the dog’s intestines. Watch out for charcoal briquettes that could be snatched and swallowed, and keep lighter fluid (poisonous to pets) out of reach. Never let the dog attempt to lick the grill and risk a burnt tongue or mouth and keep that barbeque cleaning brush out of reach. Those metal bristles can break off and require surgery to remove them if they get lodged in your dog’s throat or body.
8. Keep Clear from Fireworks
Besides the scary booms and bursts of light, fireworks are made with chemicals like potassium nitrate that can poison a dog and fuses that can lodge in an animal’s throat and stomach. If you put on your own fireworks display, keep your pet indoors and clear your yard of the fireworks debris before letting pups back outside.
9. Safe Travels
Unfamiliar surroundings can be unsettling to your pup. Summertime can mean travel or new places to explore. Err on the side of caution by keeping your dog on-leash in any new environment. If you’re traveling, take your vet’s contact info with you and get a recommendation for a vet in your destination area. A collar with identity tags is good protection in case the pet gets lost, but a microchip is even better and simple to have done.
Prevent dehydration by providing your dog with unrestricted access to fresh, cool water inside and outside. Ice cubes and treats like frozen chicken or beef broth encourage your dog to take in more fluids and will help keep him cool. You might also switch to a wet dog food during the hotter months to increase fluid intake. Encourage your pet to drink up often.
Photos via: SeanMurphyPhoto.com