29 Tips to Keep Your Dog Safe and Healthy This Summer
You know not to leave him in the car while you run to the bank — but do you know how to quickly check for dehydration?
Remember this Hydration Test
To quickly test your dog’s hydration, pull up the skin around his or her neck. “It should snap back down,” says Nicole Ellis, pet lifestyle expert at Rover.com. “But if the dog is dehydrated, it’ll go down very slowly.” Try it on a temperate day at home so you have a reference point. Next, check out 53 mistakes most dog owners make.
Keep a Visual Reference
Two common signs of heat exhaustion in dogs are pale gums and a bright pink tongue. To check these symptoms quickly, Ellis recommends taking a photo of them on an average day and keeping the shot on your phone. That way you’ll have something to refer to if you suspect something is off. This is how to know your dog absolutely trusts you.
Know the Signs of Heat Exhaustion
If you’re feeling hot on a steamy summer day, you can bet your dog feels just as warm. “Dogs are good at hiding their critical nature,” says Ellis, “which means if there’s any question he’s suffering from heat stroke, it’s best to see your vet.”
Be alert for warning signs. Besides pale gums and a bright pink tongue, listen for rapid, loud, or heavy panting. A disoriented wobbly walk, weakness and fatigue, vomiting and bloody stool could also indicate something is awry. Plus: You need to know these eight genius ways to pick up your dog’s poop.
Know Your Dog Breed
Summer safety is important for all dogs, but some have a harder time regulating their body temperature than others. Breeds with squished-in faces such as bulldogs, as well as ones with throat problems such as Yorkshire terriers and Labradors, have a harder time regulating their heat.
Beware of Hot Asphalt
“If you can’t hold the back of your hand to the asphalt for five seconds, it’s too hot for your dog to walk on,” says Ellis. Those temps are no joke: On an 85-degree day, the asphalt can reach up to 135 degrees — and your dog’s paws can be burned in less than 60 seconds. If crossing hot ground is unavoidable, carry your dog or look into purchasing booties.
If you notice your dog limping or licking its paws after a day in the sun, their paw pads may be burned. Check them for redness, blisters and cracks, and head to your vet if anything looks amiss. “Many times, we will bandage the feet and start antibiotics,” Dr. M. Duffy Jones, DVM, of Peachtree Hills Animal Hospital in Atlanta, Ga. told PetMD. “Paw pad burns can get infected quickly and make things much worse. Sometimes we can suture the pad back on if there is some left.”
No Sniffing for Snakes
Hiking with your dog is tons of fun, but it’s important to remember he’s not the only animal on the trail. In many regions, snakes are an issue. “Often these critters will hide out in holes,” says Ellis, “and you don’t want your dog putting their nose in there.” Ellis recommends keeping your dog on-leash so it’s less able to sniff out the local wildlife. Additionally, if you hear your dog scream while you’re not looking, check their body for bites. “It could be something that happens very quickly,” says Ellis. Plus: Ever wonder why your dog always follows you into the bathroom?
Be Mindful of Hot Sand
Every beachgoer knows how hot the sand can get on a steamy day. “People always run to the cooler sand where the water is hitting,” says Ellis, “and dogs want to be there too.” Carry your dog to the more hospitable sand, or think ahead by outfitting him or her with booties. And don’t forget to bring a beach towel for your dog as well, to avoid hitting the hot sand all day long.
Invest in a Life Jacket
Ellis, who frequently goes paddle boarding and kayaking with her dog, knows how much fun beach activities can be. But she also stressed the importance of safety. And when it comes to the water, that means outfitting your dog with a personal floatation device. “Even if they’re just playing the waves, they can be taken out pretty easily,” she says. “A life jacket will bring them up quickly.”
Don’t Drink the Water
Playing in the ocean is fun, but if your pup is chugging seawater their tummy won’t be happy long. The best way to prevent your dog from drinking the saltwater is to offer plenty of freshwater in a bowl. If you notice your dog lapping it up from the ocean, take them back to your towel and let them rest and drink from a fresh water bowl. The same thing goes for the chlorine water in swimming pools; don’t let your dog drink it. Next, check out some incredible dog houses for your best friend.
Your Dog Might Need Sunblock
Just like us, dogs can get sunburned. Light colored breeds and ones with pink noses and skin are most susceptible. Apply doggie sunblock to their nose and ears. If you can’t find sunblock made specifically for dogs, use one made for babies with sensitive skin. And avoid any sunblock with zinc oxide, which is toxic to dogs.
Treat Sunburn Like This
If you leave the beach and notice your dog has mild sunburn, apply Neosporin with pain reliever to relieve the burn. (Of course, you should also get out of the sun.) Ellis says to avoid aloe vera, which can be harmful if your dog licks it off.
In-Ground Pool? Have an Exit Strategy
Just because your dog loves to swim doesn’t mean you should allow them to hit the pool unsupervised. A major hazard to be aware of? Whether or not your dog knows how to get out. “Sometimes they’ll swim in circles because they can’t find the exit,” says Ellis. “Some people like to have a doggie ramp — if your dog looks like he’s panicking, lead him to the ramp or exit.”
Ward Off Ticks Ahead of Time
Fleas and other bugs can carry infections and sicken your dog. Avoid bug bites by giving your dog a vet-recommended regimen. Whether it’s drops, special shampoo or a simple brush-through, you’ll ensure your dog’s safety no matter what insects may be around this summer. Try these home remedies next time you encounter a bug bite.
But Check for Them Anyway
Even with preventative measures, it’s good to check your dog for ticks when you get back from your hike. “It’s a good habit to run your hands evenly over your pet’s body, including their legs and feet,” says Ellis. Hot spots include between the toes, behind the ears, under their armpits and around the head and tail.
Forget That Petroleum Jelly Trick
If you do find a tick, don’t resort to Google for instructions on removing it — it’s best to go to your local vet and have them show you how. “A lot of websites recommend using petroleum jelly and nail polish remover to remove ticks,” says Ellis, “and while that can help release the tick, it can also cause the bug to release its disease-spreading saliva.”
Bring Extra Water
Because a dog’s primary way of cooling down is panting, it’s easy for them to become parched. Wherever you’re heading this summer, bring a collapsible water bowl for your pet. That way, they can drink as much as they want. Add ice to make it even more refreshing.
Don’t Do a Full Shave
Your big fluffy dog looks like he or she needs a shave, right? Wrong. “That hair is protecting them from UV rays,” says Ellis, “and shaving them is a detriment.” Instead, ask for an undercoat rake. This allows your dog to have less fur but still be protected, says Ellis.
Try Frozen Treats
Need a cool treat to keep new summer experiences fun for your dog? Try frozen fruit. Your dog will love frozen bananas, apples, and cantaloupe. (Make sure they’re fresh fruit, with no added sugars. And never give your dog grapes.) Dogs will also get a kick out of chicken stock popsicles and frozen Kong toys stuffed with peanut butter. Do you know these 11 useful peanut butter hacks?
Never Leave Your Pet In the Car
It’s no secret that leaving your dog in a hot car can be deadly. On a 70-degree day, temperatures inside a parked car can reach 110 degrees. Before you head out with your pup in the back seat, consider if they actually need to come. “If the place you’re going is not dog-friendly, it’s better to leave them home in the air conditioning,” says Ellis.
Keep All Heads Inside the Vehicle
In the warmer months it can be tempted to let your dog hang his head out the window while you drive. Unfortunately, it’s unsafe. “When your dog stick his head out the window, he’s exposed to dirt, dust, and debris, which can damage his cornea and eyes,” says Ellis. Here’s why your dog always sticks its head out the car window.
Know it’s Distracting
One AAA study found that 29 percent of people who drive with their dog admit being distracted by the dog while driving. Eighty-three percent agreed that having an unrestrained dog in a moving car could be dangerous.
Watch the Wildlife
In some regions, the summer heat brings more vicious wildlife out of the mountains and into the suburbs looking for water. Keep this in mind and supervise your pet while outdoors.
Leave Pets at Home for Fireworks Displays
If you’re headed out to watch the fireworks display it’s best to leave your dog at home. The loud noises mixed with the nighttime away from home can cause your dog to become disorientated. If you dog gets scared of loud noises, try one of these best-reviewed thunder jackets.
Steer Clear of Fertilizers
Some fertilizers and lawn care products can cause an allergic reaction in dogs. Speak with your vet about what types of lawn care products are best to use. Always keep chemical bottles off the ground to keep dogs from accidentally ingesting them and becoming sick. Here’s why dogs eat grass.