Summertime, and the living is easy! Warm weather, barbeques, trips to the beach…after a winter cooped up inside, both you and your pets are ready for some fun in the sun. As great as summer is, it does pose some dangers for our furry friends. Before you head to your favorite hiking trail, dip your toes in the water, or take off on an adventure, make sure you know how to keep your dog safe.
Feeling Hot, Hot, Hot!
During the “dog days” of summer, dehydration and overheating are two major concerns. Watch out for signs of lethargy, dry gums, sunken eyes, low appetite, and decreased skin elasticity. To prevent serious injury and illness, make sure your pets always have plenty of fresh water. If you’re going hiking, walking, to the beach, or for a road trip, bring a collapsible bowl and a jug of tap water.
You can also help him the same way you help yourself and/or your kids stay cool – make sure he has access to shade and shelter when outdoors, use fans, turn on the lawn sprinkler, or invest in a kiddie pool. (Sure, you can use the pool, too!) If symptoms of dehydration of heat stroke persist, even after you’ve cooled your pet down with a hose or wet towels, call your vet.
And please: never leave your dog in the car! If it’s over 65°, your vehicle quickly turns into an oven, reaching temperatures into the 90s and 100s. This is extremely dangerous to your pet – and it can mean legal trouble for you. Several states have laws against leaving dogs in cars when it endangers their health. Bring your dog with you – or leave him home in a cool, safe environment.
Ticks Tick Us Off!
Finally, it’s summer! Time to hike, bike, run, and enjoy the great outdoors. What you don’t enjoy are all the ticks that happen to live in the great outdoors. Because these pests can spread Lyme Disease and other illnesses, it is important to check your dog for ticks at least once a day and immediately after outings in the woods or backyard.
Ticks are most active from April to September, so this spring, ask your vet about an effective repellent. If you do notice a tick on your pet, take immediate steps to safely remove it.
Ever walk across hot asphalt in your bare feet? Not so fun, is it! That’s what your dog has to do, and it can burn his paws. If you can, avoid sidewalks and take dirt or grass paths. If you need to walk on the sidewalk, try to stick to the shade as much as possible. Limit time he has to spend on hot pavement.
Doing the Doggie Paddle
Not all dogs like to swim; some fear the water or have difficulty swimming. Do not force your pet to go into the water. Doing so can cause more fear and unsafe conditions (for you, too, if you have to attempt a rescue).
If your dog does enjoy the water, remember to bring his collapsible dish to the pool or beach. Provide plenty of fresh water, so he doesn’t drink the chlorine- or bacteria-laden water. And again, make sure he has shade or shelter so he doesn’t overheat.
When you’re enjoying a barbeque or party, it’s tempting to include your pet in the fun. Slipping him a few treats off your plate, though, can be problematic. Some foods – such as grapes, onions, garlic, some nuts, bones that can splinter (e.g. chicken), corn on the cob, kabobs or foods with toothpicks– are hazardous. Even our favorite, juicy, savory barbeque, can cause diarrhea. Not a great end to a summer party!
Many vets recommend that table scraps make up no more than 10% of your pet’s diet. So, if you want to share a piece boneless chicken breast or hamburger, it’s ok – but keep the portions very small.
When you’re aware of the dangers that summer can pose to your pet, you can take simple steps to keep him safe. So get out there and enjoy!