Summer (n): The season between spring and autumn. See also: Peak squirrel-chasing season. Between long days and even longer walks, we know your fluffy friend is enjoying this summer sun as much as you are—if not more.
However, between all this summer fun and activity, it’s important to be mindful of your dog’s safety. Check out these tips and learn how you can keep your dog happy AND healthy.
BEATING THE HEAT
On very warm or hot days, you have to be extra careful that your dog doesn’t suffer a heat-induced stroke. Though older, overweight dogs and puppies are most prone to heat exhaustion, even young and healthy dogs aren’t immune to heat strokes, so watch out for excessive panting or erratic breathing, two of the main symptoms.
Follow these steps to keep your dog cool this summer:
Make sure you always keep your pup hydrated. (Use collapsible doggie water bowls for the win.)
NEVER leave your dog in the car. Even on mild days or with windows down, car temperatures can rise 40°F.
Sometimes, dogs don’t know their own limits during playtime. If your dog seems to be over-exerting themself, move to a shady spot and take a relaxing break with them.
Check the weather and schedule walks for cooler times of the day.
Where possible, walk your dog on the grass or in shady areas. Concrete and asphalt can cause second degree burns on your pup’s paws.
For more information on heat stroke treatment and symptoms, take a look at our other article here.
STAYING COOL IN THE POOL
This one’s for you, water dog owners. If your dog absolutely loves getting their paws wet, make sure they know exactly where to exit the swimming pool. Dogs can easily jump in from the sides, but may struggle to get out if they can’t find the stairs or if the pool only has a ladder. Even if your dog is really comfortable swimming, dogs should always be supervised around water. Want to take your dog to a river or lake? Just make sure they are on a leash or long line.
If your dog doesn’t take to water right away, you should never force them to swim. Certain breeds (like retrievers) are made for the water, while other short-legged or long-bodied dogs just don’t have the proper weight distribution to naturally excel at swimming. Now, this doesn’t mean Betty the bulldog can’t swim, but she might just need a life jacket or doggie swimming lessons to do it.
WEATHERING THE STORM
While it can be impressive to watch Mother Nature do her thing, summer thunderstorms are extremely loud for a dog’s sensitive hearing and can often scare or startle them. To help your dog cope and alleviate stress, create a small safe space that is dark and tucked away. This could mean covering their crate with a blanket or designating an area under your bed that they already seem to gravitate toward when scared.
Encourage them to go to this spot when you're home and the thunder occurs. Make sure to also feed your dog in their safe space since this will help them associate this spot with good things or rewards. Bonus points if you play soothing music to distract them from the sound. (They’ll feel safe and you’ll get to listen to Bon Iver. Win/win.)
CARING FOR THEIR COAT
Though typical summer activities might make you want to bathe your dog more often, it’s important to stick to a regular bathing schedule to avoid skin irritation. When bathing after the big hike, be on the lookout for any ticks or fleas your dog might’ve picked up, especially around their head and ears. Specially formulated flea or tick shampoos will also help repel and kill these little disease-causing critters.
Coat care, you ask? Hold the clippers! While you might think your dog will stay cooler with a shaved coat, it’s actually the opposite. A dog’s heavy coat protects them from heat and harmful UV rays. In fact, double-coated breeds such as Australian shepherds and pomeranians should never be trimmed. With other coat types, it’s always best to check with your veterinarian first. A good bathing schedule paired with a nice dematting brush will help keep your dog looking and feeling cool by preventing excess buildup of dead hair. In short: Your dog will thank you for ditching the home haircut—trust us on this one.
With these doggie summer safety tips in mind, you’ll be set up for success all season long. Now, it’s time to head out and enjoy the summer sun with your pup. (That ball isn’t going to throw itself, you know.)