Summer is a wonderful time of year! The days are longer, the weather is warmer, and you get to spend more time outdoors. However, things get busier, we can get distracted and there are new hazards for our dogs. With a few extra precautions and a bit of training, you can ensure your canine family members stay safe and stress-free during the Summer months!
Hot Weather: One of the biggest safety risks to our pets during the Summer is that warmer temperatures. Exposure to heat for too long can result in heat stroke and even death. There are few steps to keep your dog safe:
Access to fresh water: Ensure your dog always has access to fresh water to avoid dehydration and help keep them cool.
Cool, shady spots: It is best to keep your dog indoors in cool areas of the house. Keep all unscreened windows and doors closed to keep your pets secure. When they are outside, ensure they have access to the shade to avoid long periods in the direct sun.
Vehicles: The best rule of thumb is to keep your dog at home during warm weather. A vehicle heats up quickly and dogs struggle to moderate their temperature. Keeping windows open a small amount does not prevent your dog from over-heating. Keep them at home or ensure someone is always in your vehicle with them to ensure they stay cool. If you do leave your dog in a running vehicle with AC on, be sure to leave signage so others are aware and do not call the police or smash your window. We also recommend you purchase a monitoring system to alert you should the AC fail.
Cooling gear: There are some great products to help keep your pets cool. There are cooling collars and mats, and even putting a wet t-shirt on your dog can help keep them cool!
Asphalt: Sidewalks, roads and parking lots can heat up fast in the sun and burn your dog’s feet. Avoid these areas during hot weather or take your dog out in the cooler mornings and evenings to avoid injury. Not sure if it is too hot? Place your barefoot on the surface for a test to see if it is too warm. If it is too hot for you, it is too hot for your dog!
Exercise: Just like extreme cold, it is best to keep your pet indoors and minimize time outside in hot temperatures. Never play games like fetch or highly strenuous activities when it is warm out. Keep sessions short and focus on indoor games, training or enrichment activities instead. This is especially important for short-faced dogs such as Pugs and French Bulldogs that will struggle more with the heat.
Heat Stroke: The largest risk to dogs in hot weather is the concern of them developing heat stroke. This can be fatal to dogs, so it is important that we know the signs and what to do if we suspect our dogs may be suffering from it.
What to do if you suspect heat stroke: Remove the dog from the hot area immediately and lower his temperature by wetting him thoroughly with cool/lukewarm water and fan for air movement. Do not use very cold water as allowing their body temperature to become too low, too fast can cause other life-threatening medical conditions. Once the body temperature is 103ºF the dog should be dried thoroughly and covered so he does not continue to lose heat. It is important to always take your dog to vet as a precaution. Allow free access to water or give your dog a children’s rehydrating solution. Do not try to force feed cold water to avoid causing the dog to choke. Stay calm and gently reassure your dog.
Summer Hazards: The summer can bring new seasonal risks to your dogs. It is important to be aware of these and follow some simple steps to keep your dog safe:
Fireworks: The sound of fireworks can be terrifying for your dogs. Please let them at home to avoid causing panic or unnecessary stress. If you are near an area where there may be fireworks, keep your dog inside in a sound-proof area. Give them their exercise earlier in the day and provide them with chew bones/interactive toys during the time they may hear fireworks. Ensure they have up to date identification on and speak to your vet if they panic and it is hard to avoid the noise.
Sunburn: Yes, your dog can get a sunburn, specifically short-haired ones. Keep them covered and/or avoid them being out in sun for prolonged periods of times. There are also sun protection lotions specifically for pets. Do not put human suntan lotion on your dog as it may be toxic.
Vet care: Get your dog in for a seasonal check-up to ensure they are protected from any parasites. There are many preventative treatments for heartworm, fleas and ticks so speak with your vet to ensure they are pest-free. There are also many options to protect pets against mosquitoes. Be sure to use animal-specific products to keep them safe.
Water: Pools can be a great way for your dog to stay cool and have some fun in the warm weather. However, be sure to always supervise them. Be careful on how your store your pool. Dogs have been known to get trapped and suffocate under pools, so ensure your pool is stored properly to avoid this. If you have a salt or chlorine pool, be sure to rinse them off. If you take your dog swimming, put a life jacket on them and/or keep them on a long line and away from rushing water. Avoid your dog drinking from still water to prevent illness.
Toxins: Many people and places use insecticides or fertilizers. Be sure to keep any of these products out of your dog’s reach and in a secure area. If you know an area has been recently sprayed, avoid it and ensure your dog is not eating any of the grass. Be aware during BBQ’s or any other summer events that nothing poisonous is left out for your dog to reach (e.g.: chocolate, cannabis, alcohol, etc). Train your dog to understand ‘go to your place’ and practice alone training, leave it and drop it to prevent them from ingesting anything that could make them ill or be fatal.
Summary: Although there are new risks to your dog, it requires just a few extra precautions and minimal training time. This is the time of year that should be spent exploring and enjoying time with your dog and the whole family. Following the above simple steps will keep everyone stress-free, safe and having a ball this Summer!