Summer is a time for hikes, barbeques, swimming and fireworks. It’s only natural that dog lovers will want to bring their furry companions along for the ride. Unfortunately, for dogs, summer can also mean heartworms, sunburn and heat stroke.
The good news is that these common ailments are easily avoidable with proper pet care. Read up on the following safety tips before embarking on your next summer adventure to keep your pet safe.
- Don’t leave dogs unattended in a hot car: On their way home from the dog park, many owners believe they can squeeze in a quick stop at the grocery store. If you think dogs can stand a little heat, think again. Within minutes, a car’s internal temperature can become much hotter than outside! Cracking the windows and parking in the shade are ineffective at preventing heat stroke, so drop off your pups at home first—never leave them alone in a hot car.
- Bring water everywhere you go: Humans aren’t the only ones who get thirsty! Once the weather heats up, make sure you have a second bottle of water on hand for your dog. They need cool, fresh water every time they visit the dog park or go for a long hike. Go to your local pet store and pick up a portable water bowl that can easily fit into your backpack or purse. Even though it’s far more convenient to drink from nearby lakes and rivers, natural bodies of water are teeming with bacteria and pollution, so keep your pup away.
- Avoid super-short fur cuts: It’s hard to imagine how shaggy pups stay cool beneath all that fur. Naturally, owners want to do everything in their power to make the hot days endurable. However, a buzz cut isn’t the answer. Long fur is necessary to protect your pup from sunburn and mosquito bites. Short cuts actually put your pup at more risk. A good brushing is all that’s needed to eliminate extra fur and keep dogs protected at the same time.
- Practice water safety: Amid the summer heat, it’s natural for both you and your dog to want to take a dip or take a trip on a boat. No matter your aquatic activity of choice, keep dog water safety in mind! Your dog should wear a life jacket on boats or while swimming in natural bodies of water, and they should ever be allowed to swim anywhere without supervision.
- Keep those paws off hot pavement: A good rule of thumb dictates that if the sidewalk is too hot for your bare feet, then it’s too hot for your dog’s paws. Black asphalt absorbs heat from the sun and can burn the sensitive pads on their toes and feet. Reserve walks for the early hours of the day or later in the evening. If you have to walk your dogs under the midday sun, keep the walk short when the weather is scorching hot and walk on the grass if possible. If your pup does get a paw burn, soak it in cool water and treat it with coconut oil or antibacterial ointment to avoid cracking and infection.
- Learn the signs of heat stroke: Owners might see their dogs panting and think nothing of it. After all, that’s their way of cooling off, right? The truth is that excessive and recurrent panting could be a sign that your poor pup is suffering from heat stroke. Other symptoms include lethargy, impaired coordination, a dark red tongue or gums, rapid heartbeat, an upset stomach and unconsciousness. If your dog exhibits one or more of these signs, bring them to the vet right away.
- Ask your vet about year-round heartworm prevention: It’s unavoidable—once summer hits, the mosquitos will come nipping at your dog. You can’t totally prevent mosquito bites, but what you can prevent is the spread of heartworms. Mosquitos can transmit heartworm larvae from one pet to the next when they draw blood. Heartworms are the most common disease among pets and one of the deadliest. Avoid the risk and talk to your vet about a heartworm treatment that will protect your pup all year long.
Remember that dogs and humans share many of the same needs. We don’t want to hang out in the heat for too long, and neither do they. Use your best judgment during the summer months to ensure your playful pooch stays nice and cool. Now get out there and have some fun in the sun!