The warmer weather of summer beckons us to head outdoors with our dogs. Hiking and swimming are more fun when you have your pup by your side! But, summer brings its own set of canine hazards, from overheating to flea and tick bites. If you’re going to take your dog on outdoor summer adventures, follow these safety tips to make sure the experience is healthy and enjoyable for your pup.
Hot Weather Warnings
High temperatures in the summer can be hard on dogs. Remember, dogs don’t sweat to stay cool like we do. Instead, they pant to regulate their body temperature, which isn’t terribly efficient. They lose a lot of water to evaporation and so they can easily dehydrate or overheat. Breeds with shorter snouts, like Shih Tzus and bulldogs, have an even harder time during hot weather because of their flat faces, you’ll want to exercise extra caution if you have one of these dogs.
The following advice will help your pup handle the heat:
-Keep your walks and outdoor exercise/training sessions to early and late in the day when temperatures are lower.
-Avoid vigorously exercising or working your dog on days with extreme heat.
-Provide your dog with plenty of chances to rest on hot days.
-Keep your dog inside during the peak heat of the middle of the day or ensure they have a shady spot to rest away from the sun.
-Always have cool, fresh water available. If you’re on a walk, bring a portable water dish so you can periodically offer your dog a drink.
-Never leave your dog in a parked car. Even with the windows down, the temperature inside the car can reach dangerous levels in a matter of minutes.
-Provide your dog with a cooling mat. Some versions are filled with a gel that stays below the ambient temperature for hours. Others can be filled with cold water.
-Be aware of scorching asphalt or sand that can burn your dog’s paws. Avoid hot surfaces or protect delicate paw pads with booties or paw balm.
-Regularly brush your dog and keep their coat free of mats. Don’t shave them down to keep them cool. Double-coated dogs, like golden retrievers, corgis, or Siberian huskies, benefit from the insulating properties of their fur. Single-coated dogs like poodles can be clipped short but keep the fur at least an inch long for protection from insects and the sun.
-Apply sunscreen. Dogs can suffer sunburn, especially hairless breeds like the Chinese crested or those with white fur, short coats, and/or lightly pigmented skin. Either keep your dog out of the sunshine or before exposure to the sun’s rays, rub pet-safe sunscreen on the tips of their ears, their nose, and any other areas where the coat is thin.
Summer hikes are a great way to exercise, enjoy the outdoors, and spend time with your dog. But, this might not be the right activity for young puppies because traversing the rough terrain can harm growing their bones. You should also take caution with older dogs who might not be able to maintain your pace. And, don’t hike with any dog on extremely hot days as they could overheat too easily.
The following precautions will help ensure a safe hike:
-Speak to your vet about flea and tick preventative medication for your pup. You can also spray your dog’s coat with a pet-safe insect repellent like Wondercide, which is made with natural products like essential oils.
-As mosquitoes are an inevitable part of summer, don’t forget about heartworm medication, too.
-After a hike, perform a thorough examination of your dog’s entire body to check for ticks. Don’t forget to look between your dog’s toes, inside their ears, and under their tail.
-Check your dog’s fur for debris like burrs and foxtails. The barbed seeds of foxtails and some other long grasses can burrow right into your dog’s skin, so it’s important to remove them as soon as possible.
-Consider fitting your dog with booties to protect their paws from sharp rocks and hot terrain.
-Bring water and a portable dish so you can offer your dog frequent drinks. This will prevent dehydration and minimize the risk of your dog drinking from ponds or puddles which could be contaminated with bacteria or pathogens.
A day at the beach is exciting for your dog, but also potentially dangerous. Even an afternoon around the backyard pool requires certain precautions. Not all dogs can swim! Some are natural doggy paddlers, like the Labrador retriever, but others dislike the water. Still others, like the bulldog or the dachshund, aren’t physically suited to swimming. These breeds may need the help of a life jacket to enjoy the water.
These tips will help your dog enjoy a day at the beach or pool:
-Encourage your dog to go at their own pace and use a life vest if they need an extra boost of confidence while learning. Never force your dog to swim. Your dog could panic, gulp water, or even drown. It can also put your dog off water forever.
-Keep swimming sessions short to prevent your dog from swallowing too much water while they swim.
-Always supervise your dog in the water. When they’re having fun, they can easily overdo it. Swimming can be exhausting, and they might find themselves too tired to make it back to shore or out of the pool.
-Teach your dog where to enter and exit your pool, either at the steps or at a ramp.
-If your dog is swimming in the ocean, be mindful of currents or strong waves.
-Prevent your dog from drinking salt water because too much is toxic. Offer fresh, clean water regularly to keep them hydrated and minimize their desire to drink while they’re swimming or wading.
-Limit your dog’s activity on the sand because it can damage their paw pads. Plus, running on sand is a challenging exercise. If your dog isn’t used to heavy activity, they can suffer an injury like a pulled tendon.
You and your pup have a lot to look forward to this summer. If you keep our warm weather safety tips in mind, your adventures will involve a trip to the outdoors instead of the emergency vet. We hope you have a fabulous summer with your pup full of sunshine, fun, and happy tail wags!
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