In the middle of the dog days of summer, it seems like the weather was designed for spending time with your furry friends. There are countless opportunities for playing fetch on the beach, cuddling up in front of the cottage campfire, and taking long evening strolls through the woods.
But the season comes with its share of challenges. Here are the top summertime doggy dangers and how you can best prevent them.
If your pooch has a consistent rash and is itching throughout the summer months, there’s a good chance they’re reacting to environmental allergens. Ear canals may also become inflamed and skin may become raw from scratching. If your pet is exhibiting these symptoms, visit your vet to see how you can optimize their immune system and reduce symptoms.
Additionally, although it’s not necessarily a “seasonal” allergy, dogs can also have an adverse reaction to bee stings. If your pet experiences extreme swelling as the result of an insect bite, ask your vet about over-the-counter remedies.
The warm weather may make you feel like you’re coming alive—and you’re not the only one. The season is prime time for insects hatching, including parasites that your dog may play host to, such as fleas, ticks, and mosquitos. While the latter are only mildly irritating for Fido’s human counterparts, they can pass heartworm disease on to animals.
In the springtime, schedule an annual visit to your veterinarian to learn more about flea and heartworm prevention programs. Keep your dog well-groomed and after walks in the outdoors, thoroughly inspect their skin for ticks. You can also purchase insect repellent for dogs, but make sure it’s dog-friendly; DEET products are toxic, which can have adverse effects when your dog grooms itself.
Keep an eye out for a decreased appetite and urination, lethargy and decreased skin elasticity. In a worst-case scenario, your dog, just like people, can experience heat stroke.
Always make sure fresh water is available, and offer ice cubes as a treat for your pet. For certain dogs—especially short-faced breeds such as pugs—it may be best to schedule walks for early mornings or late evenings, when the weather is cooler. Grooming is also particularly important during the summer months, to cool down your pup and prevent fur from matting.
While shaving your dog entirely to help keep him cool might be tempting, it can put him at risk of another summertime danger—sunburns and, ultimately, skin cancer. Some breeds, including those with thin or white hair, are at a higher risk of sun exposure.
The easiest solution is to keep your dog out of direct sunlight during the hottest hours of the day. Finally, if the sidewalk (or sand) is hot enough to fry an egg on, then it’s also hot enough to burn your dog’s paws.
Yes, dogs know instinctively how to swim—after all, there’s a reason it’s called the dog paddle. But as Andrew Yeu, owner of When Hounds Fly Dog Training, told Cottage Life, “they can run out of steam and drown, like any other animal.”
Like kids, dogs shouldn’t be unsupervised in deep water. Before you take your pup out on the boat, you may also want to consider investing in a doggie life jacket.
Drinking lake water
On hot days, it may be tempting (and seemingly unavoidable) to let your dog drink directly from the cool lake, ponds or puddles. However, this puts them at risk of ingesting algae (which can be toxic) and bacteria, or even contracting parasitic infections (such as giardia).
Bottom line? If it’s not safe for you to drink, it’s not safe for your dog to drink either. Make sure you always have fresh water and a bowl on hand for your dog, and keep a careful eye on them when they’re playing in the water.