When one considers the pleasant weather and the variety of possible outdoor activities, it’s easy to understand why it is one of the absolute most fun times of the year for a dog and his owner. That said, one must be attentive to specific risks to your dog’s health that can arise during this season, and what can be done to protect your dog from these health risks.
Keeping Your Dog Safe
With changes in the weather and the environment, there are unique risks that your dog will face during the summer season. Following are five specific tips for how to keep your dog safe during the summer months:
- Guard against heat stroke. With the rise in temperatures, heat stroke is a high possibility during the summer months. It occurs when a dog’s body temperature rises to a dangerously highly level, and most often occurs when a dog is left in a car that isn’t running. Fifteen minutes in a hot car can be long enough to kill a dog, but any amount of time can be enough to cause heat stroke. A cracked window, or even several cracked windows, is not enough to keep a car cool during the summer months. Your dog needs full access to shade and water while outside, and should also never be muzzled while outdoors in the summer heat because muzzling will prevent them from being able to pant, which is a critical way in which dogs cool their bodies down.
- Protect foot pads. The surfaces that your dog walks on during the summer months, including sidewalks, patios, streets, sand and more, can easily burn your dog’s foot pads. One way that this can be avoided is by walking your dog in the morning or at night when these surfaces are cooler, or by purchasing protective foot gear for your dog. To test any surface, press your hand onto it for at least thirty seconds. If this is painful to do, the surface is too hot for your dog to walk on.
- Prevent dehydration. Just as is the case with humans in hotter weather, dogs need access to greater volumes of cool, fresh water. Ice cubes and frozen chicken or beef broth bits can entice your dog to drink even higher volumes of water, which can help him to stay cooler. You may also consider feeding your dog some wet dog food during the summer in order to provide them with a higher moisture content.
- Be aware of campfires and barbecues. Campfires and barbecues can provide your canine companion with a host of wonderful smells, but they can easily get badly hurt if they attempt to take burning sticks from the fire or food from the barbecue. It is very important to keep your dog away from campfires and barbecues, or at least keep them on a very short leash by your side the entire time, so that you can monitor their activities and prevent them from getting hurt.
- Ensure parasite protection. While you should take adequate measures to prevent parasites at any time of the year, it is especially important during the summer months because ticks, fleas, mosquitoes, flies and other pests are often at their peak during this time. Some over-the-counter parasite protection options may not be as effective as others, so make sure you talk with your veterinarian about the best way to keep your dog parasite-free during the summer months.
Of course, while these basic tips can help ensure your dog’s health and safety during the summer, they are not meant to prevent you or your dog from having an active, fun summer. You know your dog better than anyone, and may already recognize some other important ways to keep him healthy and happy during the summer months. It may be fun to research and plan specific summer activities that both you and your dog can enjoy, and be mindful of the things you both will need in order to make it highly enjoyable.