Keep Your Dog Safe in the Hot Weather
By Jenna Stregowski, RVT, About.com Guide
Summer can be wonderful time for you and your dog to spend time outdoors exercising and having fun. However, it is important to understand that hot temperatures can be very dangerous, too, and you must keep your dog cool. The most common warm weather hazards include heat stroke, dehydration and sunburn – all of which can be prevented. Watch your dog for signs of illness, and call your vet right away if any problems arise. In order to keep your dog safe, here are some important things you need to know about summer time hazards and prevention.
“Photo of Dog in Car”Photo © Justin Sullivan / Getty images
Never leave your dog in the car unattended. Despite the many warnings about this, each summer brings numerous accounts of dogs that become sick or even die of heat stroke because they were left in a car. Even if it does not seem that hot outside, the temperature inside the car can rise to dangerous levels within minutes. If you absolutely must bring your dog with you on errands, make sure you bring another person who can stay in the running, air-conditioned car with your dog. Otherwise, do your dog a favor – leave her at home.
“Photo of Dog Playing Ball”Photo © John Ansted
Steer clear of long walks and strenuous exercise on hot, sunny days. Avoid prolonged sun exposure. Not only is there a risk of heat stroke – dogs can get sunburns, too. Consider sunscreen for your dog (compare prices). If you are planning to spend time outdoors with your dog, find a shady spot and provide plenty of fresh, cool water. Try to take leisurely walks during the cooler times of the day, like the morning or evening hours. Remember to protect your dog’s feet from getting scorched by hot pavement. Sunscreen for dogs can help protect your dog as well.
“Photo of Dog Outdoors”Photo © Chris McGrath / Getty Images
It might be best to leave your dog at home when going to large outdoor festivals or parties. A large crowd can be overwhelming and it increases the chances of injury, dehydration and exhaustion. Plus, there’s bound to be a lot of unhealthy or even toxic food and trash on the ground that your dog might try to eat. Also remember that fireworks and other loud noises can frighten dogs into running away or otherwise injuring themselves. If you do bring your dog to events, keep her close by and watch out for potential hazards.
Swimming and Water Activities
“Photo of Mixed-Breed Dog in Water”Photo © David Tuai
Stay near your dog while playing or swimming in a lake, river or the ocean. Contrary to common belief, not all dogs are skilled swimmers. Also remember that even the most experienced swimmer can become a victim of an undertow, jellyfish or other hazard. Also, prevent your dog from drinking the water. Salt water can cause dehydration, vomiting and diarrhea. Water in lakes, ponds and rivers may contain parasites and bacteria that can infect your dog. Always provide plenty of fresh, clean water for drinking.
If you bring your dog on a boat or canoe, a life jacket is just as important for your dog as it is for you. Falling or jumping overboard is always possible. Any dog that spends time near water should have her very own pet life vest.
Parasites and Pests
“Dog Toxins and Poisons – Photo of Poisonous Snake”Photo © David McNew/Getty Images
Spending time outdoors means more exposure to various parasites and pests. Always check your dog for ticks after spending time outside. Keep your dog on flea prevention to avoid flea-related issues. Because mosquitos carry heartworm disease, your dog must be on heartworm prevention if you live in an area where mosquitos are present. Also remember that an encounter with a skunk can be quite a hassle. More dangerous are snake bites, which commonly occur in spring and summer. Stings and bites from insects such as bees, wasps, scorpions and spiders are also risks.
Keeping Your Dog Safe
Bottom line: keep an eye on your dog. Don’t leave her unattended. It’s important to always exercise common sense and proceed with caution to help keep your dog safe, regardless of the season. Summertime comes with its own set of hazards, so make sure you are familiar with the risks. Learn what warning signs mean trouble. When in doubt, call your vet right away. When all is said and done, it will be much easier for you and your dog to enjoy the summer.