Before you head out on that summer adventure make sure your pet will be safe.
People aren’t the only ones who love the dog days of summer. For everyone, including pets, summer is an active season which involves time spent outdoors in the sunshine, lots of exercise and a whole lot of fun. However, with all that activity, accidents can happen. Giving your pets a little extra attention will ensure they enjoy their summer to the fullest and stay happy and healthy. Here are some tips for helping your pets have the best summer ever.
Being out in the sun all day can be fun, but it can also cause dehydration and heatstroke in pets, just as it does in humans. If your pet is going to be spending a lot of time outdoors, it is important to ensure it has easy excess to plenty of water and shade. If you are taking your dog on a walk or trip, be sure to have a supply of water with you at all times. Take frequent breaks in the shade and observe your pet’s behaviour so you can spot signs of fatigue.
We already know the benefits of applying sunscreen on our own skin. Well, dogs can get skin cancer, too, and sunscreen is often a good idea for white and light-coloured dogs, which tend to be more susceptible to skin cancer and sun damage than dogs with darker-coloured coats. Be sure to reapply periodically, or after the dog has had a dip in the lake or pool.
Many pet owners make the mistake of leaving their dogs in the car, thinking that winding down the windows a little will give them enough oxygen. As dogs cannot perspire like humans, they regulate their body temperature through the air and are dependent on the temperature of the air around them to keep themselves cool. If they inhale hot air in a hot car, their body temperature increases exponentially, which can be fatal.
Summer often means lots of walks outdoors. While this can be great for your dog’s wellbeing, it also means his paws are going to come into contact with asphalt, which can get hot fast on warm days. Walking your dog on burning concrete can damage their pads, but we often do not realise this as our own feet are protected by shoes. This can be extremely painful for dogs, akin to pulling the skin off a blister on your foot and then walking barefoot in the hot sun. Other than limiting exposure to hot concrete whenever you can, you can also use pad protectors to keep those feet safe. If you cannot avoid contact with concrete, opt to walk your dog early in the morning or in the evening when the ground has cooled off.
Dogs and cats tend to spend a great deal of time outside in summer. While this can be great in that they get more exercise, it also makes them more susceptible to ticks and fleas, which proliferate in the warmer months. Prevention is better than cure, so begin a flea and tick protocol when the weather gets warmer to ensure your pet doesn’t become the victim of an outbreak.
Never assume your dog knows how to swim. Just because you might have seen other dogs happily splashing around doesn’t mean that every dog is a great swimmer. Even if your dog loves water, he may be less proficient at swimming than you think. Furthermore, dogs can and do get lost in pools and sometimes fail to find a way out, which can result in drowning. Never let your dog near a pool, lake or sea without close supervision. Just like children, they may jump in to retrieve their ball, and you want to be around if they need help.
Just because you’re not finding the heat overwhelming doesn’t necessarily mean your dog feels the same way. Dogs tend to get heated up faster than humans, and when your pet has been running around and playing, the unrelenting sun can take its toll. Always supervise your pet closely and watch for signs of discomfort, dehydration and heatstroke. If your dog begins panting a lot or seems tired and weak, it is time to take a rest in the shade and have a drink of water. If he doesn’t recover even after a break, that may be a sign that something more serious is happening.
You might think that giving your dog a haircut will help him cool off in the summer heat, but this often does the opposite. A dog’s coat aids in the regulation of body temperature, so a haircut might actually lead to your pet becoming more susceptible to the heat and sunburn.
Summer can be a wonderful season for pets, but is not without its hazards. Ensure your pet has the best possible summer by doing all you can to keep him cool, hydrated and healthy.