The official start of summer has kicked off! We have suffered through the cold winter months in anticipation of BBQ’s, pool parties, beach trips and hot, sunny days! As we trade out our sweaters and scarves for bathing suits and sunglasses, we should also keep in mind, our dogs need accommodations for the weather change as well. Here are five tips for keeping your dog safe, happy and healthy this summer:
1. Watch What Your Dog Eats
In the summer, we swap out our crockpots for the grill! Summer food is my absolute favorite, but some of our BBQ favorites are very dangerous to dogs! Although kabobs are a summer delicacy, keep the sticks out of reach from your dog as they are small, sharp and easily puncture your pup’s mouth.
Instead of throwing your dog the leftover ribs and chicken bones, throw them directly in the trash! Like kabob sticks, they become sharp when broken and are unsafe for dogs to eat.
As dessert rolls around, keep a close eye on the fruit salad (with grapes) and chocolate cake. Chocolate and grapes are extremely toxic to dogs if ingested.
2. Keep Your Dog as Cool as a Cucumber
As the days get longer, we tend to lose track of the time and how long we spend outside. If you plan on staying outside for a long period of time with your dog, make sure they have access to water and shade. ALWAYS keep a water bowl full and easily accessible! A fun alternative to keeping cool is to fill a bucket of water with toys/treats, freeze overnight and pop out of the bucket when ready to use! It’s a great way to keep your dog busy as they will have to lick the ice to melt it and free their toys.
Just like humans, dogs get sunburn, and just like human sunburn, IT ITCHES AND PEELS! To prevent sunburn, apply a waterproof sunblock formulated for babies or pets. Don’t forget to apply around the ears, nose and mouth. Nobody wants uneven tan lines!
3. Keep Exercises Light
In the summer, we can’t exercise at the same intensity as we do during the cooler months. Dogs are very prone to overheating, which can lead to heat stroke. Muzzles in the heat can be dangerous as it inhibits panting, which is key in cooling a dog down. Like mentioned above, always have water accessible when exercising. If you run with your dogs or practice obedience outside, take breaks often. Endurance is dramatically reduced when it’s hot out.
Speaking of running, we as humans, always have shoes protecting our feet. We take advantage of just how hot the concrete can be. When walking your dog on concrete, be mindful that their paw pads can get burned if the ground is too hot. Accommodate by changing the time of day you walk your dog (early morning or after sunset), where you walk them, or providing protective footwear.
4. Be Mindful of Phobias
Summer is full of festivals, carnivals, crowds and loud noises! Some dogs take to these adjustments and others have a harder time. Always keep your dog’s well-being at the top of your priority list when taking them to events during the summer. If your dog has a phobia with large crowds, make sure the events/places you attend have enough room for your dog to maintain their personal space. This is not only a safety precaution for your dog, but it will keep their anxiety down and create a safer environment for everyone involved.
If your dog has a fear of loud sounds like thunder and fireworks, invest in a Thunder Shirt and create a safe place for your dog to ride out until it’s over. If you want to attend events that your dog would not be comfortable being exposed to, you can always book a stay at Rammytime Farms where we will help work your dog through their phobias in a professional, safe manner! 😉
5. Vaccinate & Medicate
I don’t know about you, but my allergies have been in full swing this year. Between the sniffles and sneezing , it’s been a rough one. Our dogs have allergies too! Allergies cause coughing, sneezing and itching. If your dog has a specific allergy, be mindful and keep exposure to that trigger at a minimum. Consult with your vet if your dog would benefit from an antihistamine this summer.
Although we at Philly Unleashed advocate for keeping up with your vaccinations year-round, it is especially important to be vaccinated in the summer! We all come out of hibernation in the summer, so before your dog meets new people and dogs, make sure they are protected.
With the warm weather comes the fleas and ticks and mosquitoes, OH MY! Don’t let that deter you from enjoying a fun hike with your dog in the woods. Talk to your vet about providing appropriate protection for your dog!
Summer is full of adventure and I encourage you to share those adventures with your dog. Check out the fun places Kelsey has previously mentioned in our May article and integrate these tips to keep the good times rolling all summer long with your pup!
-Jessica Kochmer, CPDT-KA