Summer can be wonderful time of year. Months full of beautiful weather, long daylight hours, day trips, time off work and holidays. It can also be a wonderful time of year for your dog. The better weather and longer days means that owners are more inclined to go on longer walks and do more outdoor activities that dogs can join in with. Kids are off school and many adults take time off work meaning that dogs get more company during the day. Some very lucky dogs even get to go on exciting holidays with their owners at this time of year!
Summer can have its downsides for dogs however and there are things that owners need to bare in mind to ensure that their dog has the best summer possible.
Here are some top tips for making sure your dog is happy and healthy this summer!
1. Keep Your Dog Cool with Ice Treats
An easy and effective way to keep your dog cool on a hot day is by giving them frozen treats and ice pops. These are really simple and easy to make and can be completely customised for your dogs favourite things! Simply fill a freeze safe container with water and a few treats or toys and then freeze them. Kongs are also great to freeze. This not only makes them last longer but cools down your dog. Give them to your dog to enjoy during the hottest parts of the day.
2. WATER WATER WATER
Having a paddling pool in the garden can be a brilliant way for your dog to keep cool and have fun. Please make sure small dogs are supervised however if the water is deeper than they are tall!
Ensure that your dog has access to fresh water at all times of the day. Keeping hydrated is just as important for them as it is for us. When going out and about, bring some water along for your dog as well. If you find yourself somewhere without any water for your dog, don’t be afraid to ask for some water from locals, pubs and shops.
Be careful with dogs swimming in the sea or in pools – although most dogs can naturally swim, they may not necessarily be strong swimmers. They can easily be swept up in currents etc. There are also some dogs which struggle swimming at all (such as many French bulldogs as they are so top heavy) and so can easily drown. Please make sure all water play is supervised. If you plan to spend a lot of time near water then look at investing in a doggy life preserver.
3. Beware of Hot Pavements
Pavements get extremely hot in the summer, particularly in the heat of the day. Dogs can actually suffer from second degree burns on the pads of their paws just from walking on a hot pavement for a short amount of time. Our lovely companions generally fail to complain or let us know that they are struggling or in pain before it is too late. Before taking your dog out for a walk, put your own hand on the pavement to see how hot it is. If it is too hot for you to keep your hand on for more than a few seconds then it is too hot for your dog to walk on.
4. Never Leave Your Dog in the Car
It may seem obvious, you may even be sick of hearing about never leaving dogs in hot cars. But still, every year dogs die from overheating in cars. Even on days that don’t feel particularly hot, a dog can die in a car in a matter of minutes. Many owners will leave a window open for their dog in the car or will park in the shade. This unfortunately will actually do very little to keep the dog adequately cool. On a day where it is just 22 degrees the inside temperature of a car will reach 47 degrees in under an hour. These are lethal temperatures. It is a truly terrible accident which can be easily avoided by simply never leaving your dog in a car, particularly at this time of year. Even if it is “just for a few minutes”, why take the risk? Sitting in a hot car are stressful and uncomfortable enough for us humans, let alone a dog covered in fur!
* Try to establish the dog’s condition – if it appears to be showing signs of heatstroke (panting heavily, drooling, collapsed, vomiting, lethargic, unresponsive) then call 999 immediately.
* Try to find out how long the dog has been in the car and try to find the owner of the car if possible.
* Call the police rather than the RSPCA. The RSPCA has no powers of entry and would need the police to access the vehicle.
* If the situation becomes critical for the dog and the police will not get there in time you may decide to break into the car yourself. If you do take this action you must inform the police of what you intend to do Also take photos/footage of the situation and get the names and numbers of fellow witnesses. If you do not do this then you could find yourself having to defend your actions in court.
5. Watch out for Summer Bugs
Dogs are more at risk from a number of nasty creepy crawlies and bugs in the summer. Make sure your dog is fully up to date with their flea-treatments. It may be necessary to apply them more regularly in the summer months. Here are some of the main summer bugs to look out for.
Ticks love to hang out in long grass and farmland. Not only do they give nasty itchy bites (and cling on) but they also transmit some dangerous diseases including Lyme’s disease. Luckily most diseases need several hours of attachment to transmit. So as long as you are vigilant it should not be a problem. Remember to thoroughly check your dog for ticks every day, they can get in the most unlikely of places including inside the mouth so check everywhere! If one if found then remove it immediately with a specially designed tick remover to ensure you get it all out. If your dog starts to show signs of sickness, make sure you mention any ticks you have removed from them to your vet.
Bees and Wasps are quite tempting for dogs to try and grab and eat as they fly by. This often results in the dog getting stung, usually this is fairly harmless and will just cause a bit of swelling. If the swelling is severe give your dog an antihistamine such as Benadryl. You can also apply a cold compress to sooth the swelling. Severe allergic reactions may also occur. If your dog starts to vomit within around 10 minutes of being stung and the gums turn pale then they may be starting to go into anaphylactic shock which can be fatal. At this point, get your dog to a vet immediately.
Fleas are present all year round but tend to be particularly common in the summer months. Fleas are annoying and itchy and some dogs have flea allergies which may cause them to start to lose their fur and develop red sore patches. To avoid fleas make sure that spot-on flea treatments are up to date and keep a close eye out for flea dirt in the fur.
6. Don’t Forget the Sun Lotion!
Dogs with very short or fine fur may benefit from a spot of sun lotion to prevent sunburn. Areas where the skin is less protected by fur such as around the nose, the nose itself and inside the ears will need lotion for protection. Like us, dogs can develop skin cancer and the risk is increased by unprotected exposure to the sun. There are a number of dog-specific sun protection products but you can also use some brands of human sun tan lotion. Just ensure that they are hypoallergenic, fragrance free and contain no ingredients such as zinc oxide or para-aminobenzoic acid as these are poisonous for dogs. Simply apply the sun lotion and reapply throughout the day and after the dog has gotten wet.
7. Dogs Most at Risk
Some dogs are more at risk from suffering in the summer than others. Brachycephalic dogs (dogs with squashed faces) such as bulldogs and pugs struggle to regulate their internal temperature. They therefore often need help to keep cool. Dogs with long coats such as husky types and mountain breeds also struggle to keep cool with such thick heavy fur. Obese dogs of any breed are also more at risk. It is particularly important for these types of dogs that owners are very careful in the summer months. It may be worth investing in specialist products for these dogs such as cooling jackets or cooling mats to help keep them cool.
8. Walk Dogs Early or Late in the Day
The coolest times of the day are early in the morning and in the evening. Therefore on particularly hot days please leave your walks until these times to avoid heat stress or even heat stroke in your dog. When you do take them for walks, try to take them places with plenty of shade such as to the woods.
9. Be Aware of Shy Dogs in Busy Places
Outdoor areas tend to be a lot more busy in the summer. Everyone wants to be outside enjoying the beautiful weather and they tend to bring their dogs along too. For sociable dogs this is great and gives them a chance to meet and play with lots of new dogs and people. Some dogs however are more shy and struggle with the hustle and bustle of these new busy places. Please be aware that not all dogs will want to meet your dog/child/you so keep careful control of them. The hot weather can even make sociable dogs a bit grumpy and tired. Pay careful attention to dog body language and communication to determine whether the other dog wants to play or not.
If you own a more introverted or shy dog then try and take them to quieter places for walks. Perhaps also walk at more quiet times of the day to stop them getting too stressed.
10. Symptoms and Treatment of Heatstroke in Dogs
Heatstroke in dogs is potentially extremely dangerous and even fatal. Please keep ever vigilant for the symptoms at this time of year.
* Excessive drooling
* High temperature
* Bright red tongue
* Bright red or very pale gums
* Loss of coordination
* Vomiting (with or without blood)
* Loss of conciousness
* Start to cool your dog down by wetting him/her with cool water. Make sure this is cool water and NOT cold water. Cooling your dog down too quickly can actually be more dangerous. For very small dogs use lukewarm water.
* Check the body temperature every five minutes to ensure the dog is cooling down. When the dog reaches normal temperature (101 – 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit, 38.3 – 39.2 degrees Celsius) stop cooling the dog. Dry their fur to make sure they don’t continue to lose heat.
* Offer the dog water to drink, don’t try to force them to drink yourself.
* Even if the dog appears to be recovering, take them to the vet so they can check them over thoroughly.
Follow these 10 top tips and have a safe, happy and healthy summer with your four-legged friends!