Summer Safety Tips for your Dog!
Updated: Sep 11, 2020
With summer temperatures going back up into the high 80s and 90s, I want to talk about some important summer safety tips for your pup. Always keep your dog hydrated with plenty of fresh water and please make sure they have access to shade if they are playing outside or if you are leaving them outside for long periods of time. If you don't have trees or a shaded area where they can rest and be out of the sun, you can always create one by putting up a tent, outdoor umbrella, or canopy that will provide shade for them. Invest in an outdoor dog bed that is off the ground and will keep your pups away from crawling bugs and also keep them cool. Please make sure your dog is on flea and tick prevention. Lyme disease caused by ticks can be very serious. It is always better to keep your dog in the house where it's cool when the temperature outside is hot and humid. If you're hot so are they! If you're thirsty from being in the heat, so are they. Put out extra bowls of water around your house and outside to keep your pup hydrated. Rinse and refill the bowls at least once a day and switch out the bowls with a clean one at least once a week. This is important for maintaining healthy drinking water for your pup! Dogs also love ice and chewing on ice cubes. This is another way to keep them cool and making sure they're taking in enough water. You can also add ice cubes to their water and it will keep their water nice and cold.
Before taking your pup for a walk, please check the pavement with the back of your hand or your bare feet for seven seconds. This is a great way to tell if the pavement is too hot for your dog to take a walk. If YOU can't stand barefoot or hold the back of your hand on the pavement for seven seconds without it burning your hand or your feet, then neither can your pup! Their paw pads are sensitive and soft. I suggest that instead of one long walk, try to do a few short walks on hot summer days. And while you're walking let your dog walk along on the grassy areas if possible, instead of on the hot pavement or sidewalk. The temperature of the pavement or sidewalk can easily be 2 to 3 times the temperature of the air. I also suggest that you do your walks either early in the morning or later in the evening when it's cooled down. You can also play ball or fetch in your yard to get exercise on hot days instead of taking a long walk. Always check your dog's paws and paw pads after a walk to make sure they do not have burns on their paw pads from the sidewalk or pavement. If they have burns please contact your Veterinarian immediately!
DO NOT LEAVE YOUR DOG IN A HOT CAR!
This is very important! Please, do not leave your dog in a hot car in the summer, ever! Not even while you just quickly run into the store for a few minutes. Even leaving your dog in a running car while the air conditioning is on can be harmful. Fumes from the exhaust of a parked car can quickly become a health concern. Another problem with that is, if the running car overheats, or runs out of gas, and then quits running, your dog is now sitting in a car with a hot motor that is going to help heat up the car in a very short amount of time and you won't know until you get back to your car. By that time your dog might be already suffering from heat exhaustion or worse! Only take your dog for a ride in the car in the summer with you when you are doing drive-through errands or take your pet out of the car with you when you go into stores or buildings. According to the AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association), if the outside temperature is 70° on a sunny day, after half an hour the temperature inside your car is 104°. After an hour, it can reach above 113°! So even with the windows cracked or open the temperature inside the car will quickly reach dangerous or even deadly degrees!
KIDDIE POOLS AND SAFETY!
A kiddie pool is a great investment in the summer for exercise and fun for water-loving pups! It is still important to always stay outside with your dog while he or she is swimming or playing in the pool. Only fill the pool with enough water so that when your pup is standing in the pool the water touches your pups belly but her head and body are above the water. That way she is able to play and splash around in the water, keep cool, but not in danger of drowning. Drowning can happen if you fill the pool so high that your pup needs to be swimming constantly while in the pool. This will lead to exhaustion and drowning. Now, you might think that this is over the top so I quickly want to tell you a true story: I had a client who got a puppy for the first time for her family, it was a small breed puppy and she was only four or five months old in the summer. She spoiled her puppy and bought her a kiddie pool. But unfortunately, she filled the pool up with water so high that the puppy couldn't just stand in the pool she had to swim. Now this was a first time dog owner and unfortunately she didn't realize how quickly a little puppy like that can get exhausted from swimming and treading water. She heard the phone ring and had to go into the house to go get her phone and unfortunately while she was in the house, she stopped to do a couple of other things and when she got back outside her puppy had drowned in the pool. So please always think about this and only fill the pool up to where the water reaches your pup's belly. They can still lay down in it, splash around, have fun, and stay cool. But don't make it to where they need to be swimming constantly.
SAFE GRASS TREATMENTS!
Summertime is also a time when your lawn is in need of grass and weed treatments. Luckily there are lots of natural and organic ways to keep your lawn nice and green without weeds and without having to use harmful chemicals where your dog goes to the bathroom, walks, and plays! Some older traditional lawn and weed treatments have been known to cause cancer in both humans and pets. Please ask your veterinarian for his or her advice and recommendation for organic and pet safe treatments you can use. They are not more expensive than traditional treatments, contrary to popular belief. You can also ask at your local nursery or home department store and they can give you good advice and great tips and tricks!
POOL, LAKE, AND BEACH FUN!
If you're going to take your pup with you to the pool, lake, or beach, it is a good idea to have a life jacket on him or her while in or just around open water. Even if your pup is a good swimmer, he or she can get tired. It is also important to know what kind of condition the lake is in, as sometimes lakes can have blue-green algae. Blue-green algae can be found in lakes everywhere and are deadly within hours of your pup just playing in the shallow water. It is best to not bring your dog in or near if you know that the blue-green algae are prevalent in the lake that you want your dog to play and swim in. I also suggest checking Facebook for local dog groups! They are filled with animal lovers like yourself and often people will communicate with others that a certain Lake has blue-green algae and to avoid the lake altogether.
FIREWORKS, PARTIES, DOG TAGS & MICROCHIPPING
I want to emphasize again the importance of a dog collar with a dog tag that includes your dog's name and your current phone number. Remember to update your pups tag information as soon as your phone number changes, you move, OR if your pup's tag is old and cannot be read anymore. So many dogs unfortunately get lost in the summer because they're outside more, so just be very careful!
On top of having a collar with tags, have your dog microchipped! It is not expensive and you can do it at your local Veterinarian or some local pet stores who offer Vet Clinics. Again, please make sure all the contact information on your dogs tag or microchip are updated and current! More often than not, the dogs that are found have a microchip but the owner never activated it or updated it after changing phone numbers, their last name, or their address.
Summertime is a time for fun: Outdoor celebrations, barbecues, and parties with friends, family and neighbors! Sometimes this can mean fireworks at dusk and many dogs are terrified of fireworks! While you may not be able to prevent your pup from feeling or hearing the fireworks or firecrackers, there are things you can do to keep him or her safe and as comfortable as possible. Basements can be helpful with a fan running or with the radio on. Classical music can be very calming and soothing and so can Talk Radio. Putting a good quality lavender essential oil on the outside of your dog's collar if your dog has skin issues, or behind their ears and on their paws is also a great tool! But please contact your veterinarian first to be sure you are using a safe brand of lavender essential oil for dog's. And please ask them what brand they recommend. Afterall, only you and your dog's Veterinarian know your dog best!
Essential oils are a great safe and natural option to keep your pups relaxed during stressful situations. On days when the fireworks or fire crackers are being set off, your dog that would normally NEVER run out a door, CAN and WILL if they are scared enough. Some dogs have even broken through doors, glass, windows, screens and even sheet rock! Keep a pup that is anxious and afraid of fireworks or firecrackers either in a basement if possible or laundry room with plenty of water, a dog bed, blankets, some music and with the door shut at all times to prevent your pup from bolting or running away.
Keeping your pup on a long leash or lead inside your house can also be helpful in stopping him or her from running out the door if someone opens it unexpectedly and it also helps you have more control during a scary and loud time. If you've tried all of these things and your pup is still scared and anxious or having a serious response to fireworks, please contact your dog's veterinarian. They can help by prescribing medications to help manage the response. This is sometimes a necessary option especially in older dogs or dogs with disabilities who are afraid of fireworks or loud noises.
SIGNS OF HEAT STRESS (AVMA)
Lastly, I want to go over the signs of heat exhaustion in dogs, according to the AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association). Please take a look so you know what to look for, what to do, and what not to do.
Seek Emergency Veterinary Care if you observe any of these signs:
Restless - Can’t settle down, can’t lay down, can’t take a nap.
Unsteadiness - Wobbly on their legs when standing, walking, can’t stand up, or fall down.
Abnormal Gum and Tongue Color
*If you notice any of these signs of heat stress in your dog, get your dog to your local veterinarian immediately!
Here are a few things that you should AND should NOT do:
Do NOT pour water down your dog's throat. This can cause choking, water going into the lungs, and ultimately pneumonia. At this point, if your dog is suffering from heat exhaustion she will be panting excessively and her breathing will be very unnatural. So, opening his or her mouth and just pouring water down her/his throat is very dangerous, so please don't do that!
Instead immediately move your dog out of the sun to a cooler area either indoors where there's air-conditioning or in the shade, or close to a fan. Put a soaking wet COOL not COLD towel over your pup and underneath him and let them lay on it, then pour cool but not cold water over your pup to avoid shock. If the situation is serious enough, this can be done by a passenger and it is recommended to do this in your car with the AC on high on your way to your local veterinarian. Once your pup is breathing more normal allow him to drink very small amounts of cool water, very slowly. Continue to pour cold water over your pup until his breathing starts to settle down but never so much water that he begins to shiver. Once your pup is cooled down and breathing more normal take him or her to the nearest Veterinarian for a checkup. Even if your dog is seemingly ok and you were able to help your pup, it is still a good idea to get into your veterinarian right away for a quick exam, just to be sure!
Thanks for stopping by! Stay tuned for more posts and if you haven't already, please check out my Podcast:
... Remember, make every day with your pup a special and memorable day! Until next time... take care and be safe!
- Mariette, Owner of Furry Tail Shack - Dog Walking and Pet Sitting
Licensed Groomer and Soon to be Certified Pet Psychologist!