Make the most out of the year’s warmest months with these summer safety tips.
Summer always promises big fun in the great outdoors: beach days, picnics, cottage getaways, camping trips and more. While summer is undoubtedly Canada’s favourite time to get out and enjoy our beautiful landscape, the season presents certain hazards to our beloved dogs. With some tips and awareness, you can take advantage of the summer months safely with your best friend.
Please note that I am not a veterinarian nor am I an animal health care professional. I am simply an experienced dog owner and these are my summer safety tips along with what I would do if faced with an emergency situation. This blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional veterinarian advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian with any questions you may have regarding the condition and/or the safety of your dog.
Hydration is key to safely enjoy the outdoors in the summertime. Both for us and our dogs. Be sure to always bring a reusable water bottle and bowl (there are many that collapse for easier packing) while outdoors and take many breaks to allow your dog to drink.
While they aren’t a substitute for drinking water in a bowl, water can be used in other fun ways to cool your dog off. Some dogs love ice cubes as a treat in the hot weather. You can give them to your dog to lick or put them in their water to give them a really refreshing gulp. Keep your dog’s chewing intensity in mind as an ice cube could chip a tooth. Another way to give a cool treat is to put your dog’s toy in the freezer for a while. A rope toy soaked in water and then frozen can be lots of fun on a hot day (This is also great for a teething pup). You can also freeze treats and stuff them into their hollow rubber toys.
Many pet owners of single-coated dogs, such as a Yorkshire Terriers or Bichon Frise, like to have their dog’s coat trimmed down in the summertime. This can be especially handy if you are spending time in the forest camping or if your dog enjoys swimming.
Some breeds require special skin care in the year’s hottest months. Dogs that have short white fur are particularly susceptible to sunburn. Breeds such as the Bull Terrier and Whippet may require a sun block to protect them from UV rays. Speak to your dog’s breeder or veterinarian about which dog specific sun block they recommend. Hairless breeds like the Chinese Crested Dog also need protection from the sun. Please note that sunscreen can clog pores on a hairless dog, so use a brand recommended by an experienced breeder and be sure to wash it off at the end of the day.
If you own a double-coated breed such as an Australian Shepherd, Samoyed or Chow Chow– you have probably been asked already when you are going to give them their summer buzz. There are many good reasons not
to shave a double-coated dog. Find out why it’s a bad idea on our blog “To shave or not to shave, that is the question!
When the temperature on the thermostat soars, a parked car can quickly become a furnace and endanger a dog’s life. A vehicle can reach 48 degrees Celsius in a matter of minutes, even if parked in the shade, and even with the windows down. This spike in temperature can lead to heat exhaustion, heat stroke, brain damage and even death.
If you see a dog distressed in a parked car and you cannot find the owner, fast action can save a life. Contact your local SPCA or the police. It is against the law to leave a dog (or any pet) unattended in a parked vehicle in a manner that endangers their health or safety.
It may seem like a fun idea to take your dog with you along for errands, but a hot car is no place for a dog. They would be much happier and safer at home with the air conditioning on and access to water.
The asphalt and cement of sidewalks and roadways can become extremely hot during the daylight hours. A dog’s paw pads are sensitive to heat and can actually burn on contact. Place the back of your hand on the hot pavement-if it’s uncomfortable after a minute, it’s probably uncomfortable for your dog as well. Instead of hitting the pavement when out for a walk, stick to grassy parks or walk before or after 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., when the sun is less intense.
Dogs do not sweat the way we humans do and can easily become overheated in hot weather. Heat exhaustion in dogs occurs when their body temperatures rise above normal. Certain dogs are more prone to developing heat exhaustion, especially older and overweight dogs, as well as the brachycephalic breeds such as Pugs, Pekingese and Bulldogs.
Symptoms of Heat Exhaustion include excessive panting, fast heartbeat, loss of movement, uncoordinated movement, drooling, vomiting, diarrhea and even collapsing.
If you suspect your dog has heat exhaustion, act fast. First get them out of the heat. You then will need to get your dog to their vet or an emergency clinic right away. In this situation, I would use a hose to spray my dog down, making sure the hot water has left before I aimed it towards them. I would encourage them to drink water while transporting them to the veterinarian with cold, wet towels on their body.
While summertime celebrations like Pride and Canada Day are great fun for us humans, the crowds, heat and noises can be scary for dogs. Enjoy a nice walk and a game, then let your dog enjoy the comfort of your home as you go socialize. Learn more about bringing your dog to a celebration on our blog “Should your pride and joy attend Pride
Many celebrations also include fireworks, which can be stressful for your dog. Learn more on our blog “Why don’t dogs like fireworks?
When it’s too hot to exercise your dog outdoors, bring the fun inside! Play a game of fetch, hide treats and let them go and find them, play tug of war, brush up on obedience skills or teach your dog a new trick.
A summer getaway to a cottage can be a wonderful time to make memories with your entire family; however, the cottage can present several hazards for your dog.
Read my tips on cottage safety on our blog “How to cottage with your canine
The summer is a great time of the year to make memories with our four-legged friends. With a bit of planning, knowledge and research, you can enjoy a safe and happy season. Wishing you a wonderful summer season!