12. Summer Safety Guidelines for Dogs - What Summertime Weather Changes Mean for Your Pet
To most of us, summer is a time of relaxation and enjoyment, along with extended traveling and vacationing times.
For your dog, however, the only changes occurring are time spent away from you and the onset of sweltering heat.
As it is hard for a dog to cool down his body (dogs have no sweat glands), the summer can represent a danger to his health.
However, it can be quite simple to avoid any summertime difficulties with your pet.
Dogs are great at adapting, however the warm summer months can still bring on an uncomfortable amount of heat for them. Their thick coats and lack of natural cooling abilities only add to their discomfort. Along with these obvious setbacks, your family's traveling time may mean even more discontent for your dog.
The great news is, traditional summertime annoyances and difficulties that dogs experience can easily be avoided if their owners are careful to attend to their needs. Some of the most common problems that dogs face during this time are:
- heat exhaustion
- lack of water
- exposure to pesticides and weed killers
Signs of Heat Exhaustion
Even dogs who are kept indoors most of the time are susceptible to heat exhaustion. Any exposure to severe weather, especially in warmer regions, can quickly become hazardous to your dog.
Signs of heat exhaustion in include:
- excessive salivation
- foaming at the mouth
- intense fatigue/weakness
- rapid pulse/heartbeat
Do not assume that your dog cannot suffer from a heat stroke or heat exhaustion due to limited outdoor access. If you notice any of the above signs and symptoms, take action immediately by lying your dog down and placing ice packs around his stomach and neck. Spray your dog's body with icy water, and call a vet immediately.
Summertime Means an Increase in Your Dog's Watering Needs
As early as spring, your dog will likely begin to consume water more frequently and in larger amounts. This is normal, and it is your job as a good dog owner to accommodate by either increasing watering frequencies or by providing your dog with a larger water bowl.
You may also consider adding small bits of ice to your dog's water during warmer months, as water coming from the tap will be warmer than usual.
Being deprived of water for even just a few hours can be very harmful for a dog during the summer. Pay close attention to how his needs increase, and make changes as necessary in his watering schedule.
Be wary of using plastic water bowls or containers for dogs that are kept outdoors, as these products can emit toxic, broken down plastic particles into your pet's water supply when in direct sunlight.
Monitor Your Dog's Exposure to Pesticides and Weed Killers
Most homeowners are concerned with the appearance of their lawns during the summer. Using pesticides and weed killers often to maintain your yard, however, can become deadly for your pet. Most of these products are not created with a dog's safety in mind and are toxic even in small doses.
If you must use pesticides and week killers for your lawn's needs, do not allow your pet to have any contact with the treated areas for forty eight hours. Even after the forty eight hour period has lapsed, your dog should have almost no interaction with areas treated with these hazardous products. For the safety of your pet, consider switching to natural or herbal lawn products.
Summer Can Bring Parasitic Infestations
With all of the warmth and fun that summer can bring, these months also mean an increase in the appearance of pests. Fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes all breed and hatch during this time. On that note, the warmer your environment is, the more likely your dog is to have at least one encounter with a harmful parasite.
Decrease parasites around you dog's environment by removing any items in your yard that can hold sitting water (tires, cans, buckets, etc.). These items are excellent breeding grounds. Also, talk to your veterinarian about treatment and preventative care for your dog. Flea and tick shampoos, citronella candles, and liquid parasite treatments can go a long way in improving your dog's summertime comfort level.
Neglect Can Kill Your Pet, Especially During Hot Summer Months
Unfortunately, summer tends to be a time for the most tragic deaths in dogs. These deaths are often preventable, as well as being often inflicted accidentally by even the most caring of dog owners.
Keep in mind that, although your schedule may be full, convenience and cutting corners are no way to care for a living animal.
Please keep the following safety tips in mind during the summer:
- No matter how quickly you may plan to return, never leave your dog in a parked car during the summer. This can be fatal in only a matter of minutes, especially for younger dogs.
- Letting windows down is not helpful, as it does not effectively cool the car and it can also lead to escape attempts. Simply leave your dog at home.
- Indoor areas that are not climate controlled are not suitable for your pet. While he may be accustomed to being outside, outdoor areas are full of fresh air and breezes.
- An indoor area has neither, which can lead to rapid heat exhaustion for your pet.
- Fresh, cool water must be available at all times for your pet, with no exceptions.
Never walk your dog on a paved surface during the summer without providing him with shoes. These surfaces absorb heat and lock it in. Would you want to walk on scorching concrete with no shoes on? I didn't think so.
If your dog will be kept outdoors, take even more precautions. Test drinking water regularly to make sure that it is still cool, and never place your dog's water bowl in direct sunlight. Also, provide open shade other than a dog house.
If your yard is heavily covered in trees, this may be sufficient. Dog houses are little more than heat boxes during the summer. Remember, being a little more mindful of your dog's needs can make all the difference in his summer.
He depends on you to keep him cool, so always make sure that he is as comfortable as possible. Keeping the above tips in mind, both you and your pet should be able to enjoy a worry-free summer.