Adults and kids may love the summer season, but what about your dog? While most owners remember to give their pooches extra water and lots of shade on hot days, there’s more involved in keeping your furry family members safe this time of year.
The following are six things all dog owners should know about summertime health risks:
What’s Fourth of July without fireworks? Yet it’s important to remember that the loud, sudden noises can scare your pet so badly that he or she bolts.
“We see an increase in the number of stray dogs in the summer because of this,” said Maureen Prendergast, the director of outreach and investigation at the Animal Rescue League of New Hampshire. “Dogs that are tied up outside, or on a walk with an owner who’s not using a leash, will break free and just bolt — and you can’t always tell which direction they headed.”
Make sure your pet is wearing an ID collar with up-to-date information, and keep the pet inside anytime there are fireworks or loud thunderstorms outside.
“It’s much better that he have an accident inside than go outside, get terrified, and end up missing,” Prendergast said.
While plenty of dog owners remember to protect their pet’s paws with booties during the cold winter months, many don’t think similarly during the summer.
“Standing in one spot on pavement can be really painful, especially in the high heat of the day,” said Prendergast, who adds that when a dog’s paw pads get burned, he may try to lick the area, which can cause an infection.
Protect your dog’s paws by scheduling walks in the morning or evening after the pavement is cooled off, or in the shade or in grassy areas. Special salves to protect the paw pads are also available at most pet stores.
Many people like to take their dogs to fun outdoor summer events, like parades, but that can be a risk. “The heat and the crowds at an event like that can become overwhelming for the dog, especially in tight spaces or when there’s small children or other dogs around,” Prendergast said. “Not all, but most dogs would be happier at home relaxing in the air conditioning rather than being out in a crowd of people.”
Pets left in hot cars is another dangerous issue that unfortunately pops up this time of year.
“Even on a warm — not hot — day, temps can rise within minutes in a car,” Prendergast said.
And when stuck there for too long, she added, dogs are not only miserable but can suffer internal organ damage that may be hard to detect at first but could be devastating — and irreversible.
“There really is no safe amount of time for a dog to be locked in a car,” Prendergast said.
Always make sure your pet has plenty of access to cold water and shade, and limit exercise when it's very hot.
“The first signs of heat stroke are heavy panting, a glazed look in the eyes, and lack of coordination,” Prendergast said. “As minutes pass, you may see the dog salivate heavily or start vomiting, or notice his tongue turning red or purple. Things can escalate quickly.”
If you suspect your dog is suffering from heat stroke, move him to shade or air conditioning, place a cold pack or cold towel on the dog’s neck, and run cool (not cold) water on the neck and chest.
“Your instinct might be to bring the dog a big bowl of water to drink, but that’s too much too fast. Let him lick ice cubes instead," she said. “And call the vet right away.”
If your dog spends any time in or near wooded areas this summer, a daily tick check before returning home is crucial. Run your fingers slowly over your dog's entire body, feeling for bumps or swollen areas. Don’t forget to check between his toes, under his armpits, the insides of his ears, and around his face and chin. Even check his gums.
“One trick that can help is keeping a lint brush roller in the car and rubbing it over the dog’s coat; it could help grab a tick that’s just hopped on,” Prendergast said. “It’s a quick extra step that can really help.”