By Courtney Chandler
7 Tips to Keep your Dog Safe this Summer
With all the fun that summer has to offer us, sometimes we humans forget that this season can be outright dangerous for our pets. So how do we protect our dogs on those hot summer days? Follow these seven tips to keep your pup safe:
1) Carry water: Probably the greatest risk to your dog is dehydration. If you’re going to be out for more than about 15 minutes, you should carry water with you. It’s best to take ice water, which has the added benefit of helping to cool down our dogs. And most dogs love munching on ice!
2) Walk where it’s cool: The surface temperature of sidewalks and streets can get as hot as 145°. This is hot enough to cause second degree burns on the pads of your dog’s feet with prolonged exposure. For this reason, do your best to walk in the shade and where possible, make a b-line to the nearest grassy areas. Unlike pavement and asphalt, grass and dirt don’t conduct heat very well, so they stay cooler in the hot sun.
3) Avoid long walks in the middle of the day: It’s usually hottest between the hours of 10 am and 6 pm, so if possible, avoid going for lengthy walks during those hours. The best time to get those long walks done is early in the morning or late at night.
4) Don’t shave your double coated dog: A lot of folks will shave their dog’s coat in the summer. The thought process is that all that fur must make it harder for your dogs to expel their heat. But dogs don’t shed heat through their fur. They cool themselves through panting and they also sweat from the pads of their paws. So when we shave a double coated dog, we’re not helping them expel heat, instead we’re actually reducing their natural insulation. Double coats are known to insulate dogs from the cold, but those coats also surprisingly help to insulate our dogs from heat! So if you shave that coat, you’re actually reducing your dog’s natural defenses.
5) Use Sunscreen for light coated dogs: Did you know that dogs are susceptible to sunburn? Any owner of a Chinese crested or other bald dog will already know that you need to apply sunscreen to a dog’s exposed skin to protect it from dangerous UV exposure. But if you’re going to spend time in the sun with your light-colored dog, you should make sure they have some extra UV protection. Some dogs with white or blond fur have a nearly translucent coat. Of particular concern is the thin fur around the nose and ears. Just make sure you use a safe, non-toxic sunscreen, preferably one specially formulated for use on dogs.
6) Watch out for food trash: For dogs who tend to scavenge food trash during their regular walks, summer is particularly dangerous. During the summer months, the high temperatures on the streets mean that bacteria and molds grow extremely quickly. A piece of meat left on a hot sidewalk can reach toxic levels of bacterial growth in as little as a couple hours. So if your dog is a scavenger, be extra vigilant during the summer months!
7) If you use a muzzle, get a basket muzzle: As mentioned earlier, the primary method dogs use to cool themselves is panting. Unfortunately, many muzzles—especially fabric muzzles—don’t allow dogs to open their mouths wide enough to pant. Instead, get your dog a basket muzzle and make it big enough for your dog to open her mouth WIDE!
That’s all folks. Now get outside and have a safe and fun summer!