Finally, the dog days of summer are upon us! As the month of July commences, so does a favorite time of year for outdoor activities for both humans and their canine companions. With a little planning, summer can be a wonderful time to enjoy all that the great outdoors has to offer. Here are some considerations to make when planning a day outside with your four-legged friend.
Protect Them From the Sun
Prevent sunburn and skin cancer with sunscreen—yes, you heard us right! Dogs can get skin cancer too. While fur may provide a partial shield against the harsh sun, it’s not much different than a human wearing a hat to keep the sun off our faces. Look for a product specifically made for dogs, reapplying liberally to less hair covered parts of your dog’s body (such as his belly and nose) every couple of hours. Your veterinarian can recommend the best sunblock for your pet. Never use a human sunscreen as the ingredients can be toxic to animals.
To Shave or Not to Shave
Also, while it may surprise you, there’s some debate over whether you should shave your dog’s fur in the summer heat. Some experts claim that keeping your pet’s hair/fur longer during the summer months can actually help to regulate body heat. Talk to your vet before you give your pooch a summer trim, some breeds may actually benefit from keeping their fur the natural length, even in the summer heat!
Keep Your Pet Cool
While it may seem like common sense, plan outdoor activities on hot days earlier in the morning or later on in the day. Your dog may love a game of Frisbee on the beach, but the hot midday sun could lead you to the ER with a case of heat exhaustion. Always provide plenty of water for your pet while on outdoor excursions. Collapsible bowls make it easier than ever to carry water with you all the time. This way, if your dog is thirsty mid-walk, you can make sure he gets the fluids he needs immediately. Making sure your home temperature is regulated is equally as important. If your pet is already leaving an overheated home to head out for a walk, he is probably already dehydrated. Keep your home at a temperature that is comfortable for you both. Always make sure to run your air conditioning on hot days—especially when you aren’t home to make sure your pet is comfortable.
Avoid Hot Cars
This also goes without saying, but NEVER leave your dog in a parked car even with the windows rolled down, and even for only a few minutes. We know your pooch loves to run errands with you, but it only takes a few minutes for the temperature to rise high enough to harm your pet. What’s more, many states now have laws that could have you arrested if you leave your dog alone in a vehicle on a hot day!
Know The Signs Of Heat Exhaustion
Watch out for signs of heat exhaustion when out with your dog. These include wobbly legs, heavy panting, bright red gums, diarrhea, and vomiting, get your dog immediately inside with a cool, wet towel draped over his body. Do not immerse him in ice cold water. Get him to a veterinarian as quickly as possible.
Keep Bugs at Bay
Mosquitos, ticks, and other creepy crawlies are just as much, if not more of a problem for dogs as they are for humans. There’s also the added risk of heartworms/hookworms during the warm summer months, so it’s important to be sure that your pet is protected. Ask your vet about the best preventative medications for heartworm, fleas, mosquitos, and ticks. They can recommend the best ones for your dog’s age, breed, size, etc.
Take Precaution on the Water
Does your pooch enjoy a dip in the family swimming pool or a romp in the waves at the beach? Watching a dog’s unbridled joy as he splashes in the water can be a great source of entertainment for pet owners as well. However, just as you would with human children, always watch your dog carefully. Have him wear a bright colored swim vest to give him added floating ability in the water. When at the beach or a lake, make sure that currents aren’t too strong before your pet dives in. When in doubt, keep your dog out!
Camping and Cookout Safety
Every dog loves sharing a good meal with his owner. It’s just one of the many perks to summertime! If you’re going to share a steak or a piece of chicken with your pet, be sure to cook him his own piece. Barbecue sauces and other summer marinades may taste delicious to humans, but they are foreign to your dog and could make him sick. On the food front, chocolate from S’more’s can be lethal to your dog, and corn on the cob is a huge no-no as it can also get ingested and cause abdominal blockages.
There’s no doubt that a summer of fun awaits both you and your pet. By taking the proper precautions and being a responsible pet parent, you’ll create a lifetime of fun outdoor memories that don’t involve medical emergencies or inconveniences. Now, raise your paws if you’re ready for some summer fun!