Warmer weather is headed our way, even for us Midwesterners who were brushing snow off of our cars just last week… The earth spins on its axis as it rotates around the sun; and so, despite late spring snowstorms, summer will arrive!
Summer is a carefree time best spent outdoors. This is true for us and is especially true for dogs, whose ancient wolf ancestors spent the warm months out in the elements enjoying all nature had to offer.
Just as there are certain precautions we should take during summer—i.e., wearing sunscreen, maintaining proper hydration, keeping bugs off our skin, etc.—dog owners should take special precautions for their pets.
Here are 10 summer safety tips for your canine companions.
1. Provide water and shade
Your faithful, uncomplaining companion can’t tell you “Hey, I’m hot and thirsty.” When you’re outside, so be sure your dog has access to a shaded area and always have water for your dog. Staying hydrated and cool are important steps in preventing heat stroke.
2. Know the signs of overheating
If left untreated, overheating and dehydration can be deadly. According to the American Kennel Club, signs include:
· Panting coupled with fast, noisy breathing
· Bright-red or blue gums
· Vomiting and diarrhea
If your dog displays any of these signs, provide cold water immediately. Then, call your veterinarian and explain the concern so the office can be prepared to act swiftly.
3. Never leave your dog in a car
Our Born Free dogs love to take car rides! However, even with the windows cracked, a car – whether parked in the sun or shade – can become dangerously hot within minutes. Never leave your dog (or child) in the car, period.
4. Use Sunscreen
Although dogs are covered in fur, some dogs can get sunburned. “It’s actually very important to put sunscreen on dogs, especially those with light skin and white fur or hair,” said Richard Goldstein, DVM, and chief medical officer of the Animal Medical Center in New York City. “A dog’s skin can be damaged by the sun just like our own, so they require the same protection against the development of sunburn and skin cancer.”
5. Walk during cool hours
Long walks in the spring and summer are positively what warmer weather is all about. Be mindful of your dog’s tolerance for exercise in warmer weather, and consider occasional breaks and avoiding walks during the hottest times of the day.
6. Keep parasites off
Dogs are far more likely to get parasites during summer because that’s when disease-causing bugs make their appearance. This article from the Denver Post explains how to keep your dog safe from summer parasites.
7. Consider a life vest
Some dogs are born swimmers, and others are not. But whether your dog takes to the water like a fish, or if it’s afraid of water, fitting your dog with a life vest is never a bad idea.
8. Keep dog away from dangerous outdoor items
Fireworks, sharp marshmallow skewers, fishing tackle — the list of dangerous objects our dogs can get into gets longer as the weather warms up. Keep a close eye on your dog as these items come out of storage.
9. Know your breed’s heat tolerance
Short-muzzled dogs like pugs and bulldogs are more susceptible to heatstroke because their short muzzles makes it harder for them to breathe and cool themselves down. Take extra care to keep short-muzzled dogs comfortable.
10. Be mindful at BBQs
When hosting outdoor events, or grilling out, make sure your dog doesn’t sneak a bit of something that is unhealthy for them. Advise guests to be aware of your dog and avoid sharing table scraps, in particular foods such as grapes, chocolate and others that can cause issues. Read here for a detailed list.
If you know of other ways to keep dogs safe during the summer months, please share them with us!