Summer is a terrific time to be a dog owner.
It lets you run, swim, and play with your dog in nicer weather than any other time of the year. However, summer also brings unique risks to your dog's health that you should keep in mind throughout the season. These summer dangers include:
1. Heat stroke
Heat stroke occurs when your dog’s body temperature rises dangerously high. It is most common when dogs are left in a car for too long, or when they exercise in the heat. Never leave your dog in the car in hot weather, and always remember that a cracked window is not enough to cool a car. Your dog always needs access to shade outside. Muzzling interferes with a dog's ability to cool itself by panting and should be avoided.
Dogs can burn in the sun just like people can. White, light-colored, and thinly coated dogs have an increased risk of sunburn. Sunburn causes pain, itching, peeling, and other problems. To prevent sunburn, apply a waterproof sunscreen formulated for babies or pets. Be sure to cover the tips of your dog’s ears and nose, the skin around its mouth, and its back.
3. Burned foot pads
Sidewalk, patio, street, sand. and other surfaces can burn your dog’s footpads. Walk your dog in the morning and at night when outdoor surfaces are coolest. Press your hand onto surfaces for 30 seconds to test them before allowing your dog to walk on them. If it is painful for you, it will be painful for your dog.
Prevent dehydration by providing your dog with unrestricted access to fresh and cool water both indoors and outside. Ice cubes and frozen chicken or beef broth encourage your dog to take in more fluids and help keep it cool. You can also feed your dog wet dog food during the summer to increase its fluid intake.
5. Campfires and barbecues
Your dog may try to take burning sticks from the fire, which are hard to retrieve since they think that you are playing when you chase them. Food that is stuck to barbecues after cooking can tempt your dog to lick the barbecue and burn its tongue or mouth. Lighter fluid is a poison and should not be left where your dog can reach it. Keep your dog away from barbecues and campfires unless it is on a very short leash.
Some fireworks look like sticks, which makes your dog think that they are toys. The loud noises and sudden flash of fireworks can disorient and startle your dog, causing it to run wildly. If you cannot avoid being around fireworks, then keep your dog on a very short leash.
Ticks, fleas, mosquitoes, flies, and other insects are at their peak during the summer months. Talk to your veterinarian about appropriate protection such as collars, sprays, shampoos, dips, and other products.
8. Chemicals in the water
It is no secret that most dogs love to swim. Swimming can be fun for you and your dog and helps prevent heat stroke. However, chlorine can irritate a dog's skin and upset its stomach. Rinse your dog with fresh water after swimming in a pool and do not let it drink more than a small amount of pool water. Standing water, such as puddles, can also be dangerous for dogs to drink due to the presence of antifreeze or other chemicals. Provide your dog with fresh water to drink whenever possible.
9. Seasonal allergies
Fleas, mold, flowers, and other potential allergens are common during summer. Allergies cause itching (and with it, excessive scratching), coughing, sneezing, discomfort, and other problems for your dog. Keep your dog away from allergy triggers when possible, especially if you know it has a particular allergy. Ask your veterinarian about whether your pet would benefit from a canine antihistamine or other medication.
10. Getting lost
Take care when traveling with your dog during the summer to prevent it from becoming lost in unfamiliar surroundings. Always have someone watching your dog if it is off its leash. A collar with a contact information tag should be considered the minimum safety precaution. Microchip your dog if you desire more reliable identification.
These summer safety tips apply to dogs in general, but no one knows your dog better than you. If your dog is well behaved around food, for example, then it may be safer to let it be near a barbecue. Do not be afraid to let your dog off its leash to run and enjoy summer, but do be aware of what possible dangers may be nearby before you do so.
If you have a fun summer dog story or know a summer danger that we forgot to mention, tell us in the comments.