Summer is finally here and that means lots of outdoor activities with our dogs! While lots of us are spending time enjoying the warm weather and sun, there are always potential risks lurking around every corner when it comes to our pets. Biting insects, heat stroke, and hot sidewalks all pose a danger to our precious companions, so keeping them protected and being prepared is the best way to help.
If you’re looking for ways to keep your pet safe during the summer months then you’ve come to the right place. I have the top recommended veterinary tips for protecting your pup during the scorching summer heat!
When you’re a pet parent, the summer is full of fun and opportunities with your companion. But as a veterinary technician, I can tell you that there is always a pattern of common seasonal issues that clinics and emergency hospitals see during this time of year and they include:
- Heat stroke
- Asphalt burns
- Near drownings
- Insect bites (or snake depending on where you live)
- Gastrointestinal problems
Keeping your pets safe is our main priority! Following these steps can help avoid accidents and keep owners prepared and pets healthy and happy.
This is one of the most devastating problems with pets and the hotter summer months. Heat stroke is what happens when panting has failed to control a pet’s body temperature and it stays too high, causing the pet to become overheated.
When the pet’s temperature is 41℃ or higher for more than 10-15 minutes then they run the risk of multiple organ failure. This is why it is critical that you do not leave your dog in a car during the summer months. If you MUST do so, the car has to be running with the air conditioning ON with a dish of water available as well. And someone still might break your window.
Symptoms of heat stroke are:
- Excessive panting
- Thick drool
- Dry, brick red gums
- Fainting and wobbly gait
- Extreme lethargy
Many owners do not realize the risks associated with heat stroke. Even if your dog is not in a hot car, if they have exerted themselves too much physically or been exposed to prolonged temperatures then they are in danger.
*Overweight, double-coated and short-faced dogs (brachycephalic) are at higher risk of heat stroke than others.
Our pups don’t wear shoes, or at least most of them don’t. So, during the summer months when the sun is heating up the asphalt to over 62℃, you can imagine how hot your dog’s paws feel. They can develop burns and injuries to their paw pads if we are not careful when taking them for walks across concrete or asphalt.
To avoid burns on their paws, you can follow these five tips:
- Walk during the evening time or early morning when it is typically cooler
- Test the asphalt yourself with the seven second rule
- Skip the asphalt entirely and stay on the grass
- Use a paw balm to moisturize and protect their pads
- Put some cute booties on them
As long as your whole yard isn’t made of asphalt it should be pretty easy to avoid these injuries. Just be sure to test the ground yourself and walk during the cooler times of day before you grab the lead.
It’s a bit of a myth that all dogs can swim naturally or that they just know how to doggie paddle from birth. Sure, a lot of dogs do instinctively know how to swim, but not all of them. Many dogs that are a heavier build, like French Bulldogs, Pugs and Bulldogs will sink quickly before they can even attempt to swim. Unless your dog is an excellent swimmer, make sure to keep a doggie life jacket on them for safe measure!
No one likes bugs of any kind biting them and our pets are no exception. During the summer months our companions are at risk for things like fleas, ticks and heartworm disease if they are not protected with a flea/tick and heartworm prevention. Make sure that you have your pet on a reputable product to keep our dogs and cats free of unwanted and nasty parasites.
Pets will certainly take what they can get when there’s plenty of food and people around. Dogs are often victims of gastric foreign obstructions and pancreatitis as they just can’t resist gobbling up the food and scraps that hit the ground or garbage.
Common foods that are a big risk of gastric foreign obstruction are:
- Corn cobs
- Fruit pits
- Skewers and toothpicks
Common foods that can cause pancreatitis or gastroenteritis are:
- Grease trays
- Hot dogs
- Steak fat and drippings
- Any people food they’re not used to eating
When you bring your dog around family and friends for a summer barbeque make sure you lay down the rules when it comes to what your pet can and cannot eat. It may save you some trouble in the future.
When our pets are spending more time outside, playing and experiencing new environments and situations there is always the chance that life and injuries will happen. It’s an unavoidable thing sometimes, even when you do the best you can to prevent them.
Injuries can come in the form of a broken nail, a minor cut or laceration or even a scary broken bone! The best thing to do is to stay calm, control any bleeding or protect the wound, and call the emergency vet right away.
Now that you’re a more informed pet parent, you can welcome and enjoy the summer months confidently with your pet. Just be sure to always pay attention, provide fresh water and never leave your dog unattended somewhere hot.