It’s summertime and the weather is hot — sometimes too hot for your dog! Dogs can have the same troubles that we do in hot weather, including dehydration, overheating, and even sunburn. Heat aside, there are also lots of activities going on in the summer that merit taking extra safety precautions. With a little forethought, you and your dog can have a great summer. Here are some tips for keeping your dog safe when the heat is on!
Visit the vet
Take your dog to the vet for a full check-up before summer starts. Mosquitoes are very active in summer and carry the larvae for heartworm. If you haven’t started your dog on heartworm medication, get a test and start preventatives right away. Fleas and ticks can also be a problem, so check with your vet for effective flea and tick control.
Cars can be deathtraps for dogs, even with the windows open. A car can go from comfortable to oven-like in minutes, so never leave your dog alone in a car. And don’t think that a cloudy day or parking in the shade reduces the risks. The sun moves during the day and clouds can actually magnify the heat. If you are taking your dog along in the car for a road trip, always carry a gallon jug of cool water for him.
Timing is everything
The right time for playtime is in the cool of the early morning or evening, but never after a meal or when the weather is humid. When it is “hot enough to fry an egg on the sidewalk,” it is also hot enough to burn your dog’s sensitive paw pads. Reschedule walks for cooler times of the day.
Know when to stay inside
If possible, bring outside dogs inside on hot days. If not, ensure they have a cool, shady hideaway and plenty of clean, fresh water.
Senior and obese dogs, as well as dogs with medical problems like lung or heart disease, should be kept inside with air-conditioning if possible. Brachycephalic (short-faced dogs) such as Bulldogs, Pugs, Boston Terriers, Lhasa Apsos, and Shih Tzus can also be susceptible to hot weather problems and should be watched for signs of overheating.
Life’s a beach
Bringing your dog to the surf and sand of the beach is fine, as long as you can ensure they will have shade when they need it and plenty of clean, fresh water. If your dog likes to take a dip in the ocean, be sure to wash them off with fresh water as soon as possible as salt water can be rough on the coat and skin.
Summer also brings dangers in the form of insecticides, weed sprays, and snail baits, to name a few, so watch out for these hazards in your own yard and on your walks. Radiator coolants and engine fluids leaking from cars are especially dangerous. They are sweet tasting and just a small amount can cause serious injury or death. If you think your animal may have ingested these or any other poisons, call your vet or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435 immediately.
Get a haircut
For your dog, that is. A trip to the groomer, especially for dogs with heavy or long coats, is always a good idea. Ask your groomer about a summer cut, which brings the hair down no shorter than one inch. (Never shave the dog down to the skin as you are taking away your dog’s natural sun protection.)
Stock up on dog-specific products
Never use insecticides or sun-protection products that have not been approved for use in dogs. Many of these products contain ingredients (DEET in mosquito spray, for instance) that can cause serious problems when they are ingested or absorbed through the skin. Stick to dog-specific products.
When everyone is gathered around the barbecue, watch out for Fido below. Matches, lighter fluid, insect candles, and fire pits can be hazardous to your dog’s health — and yours if they should knock over a candle and start a fire!
Keep windows closed
Open windows can be a hazard. Dogs may get excited and push out screens or jump out of windows if they see other dogs or people having fun outside. Second-story windows should be off-limits to your furry friends.