Summer’s here and with it comes one of the best times of year to explore the outdoors with your pup! Swimming, hiking, road-tripping, camping—there’s no end to the thrilling activities you can share with your animal buddy. But summer also presents some unique challenges and health concerns, principally intense sunshine and extreme heat. To keep the fun flowing and emergency vet visits at bay, here are ten Essential Summer Safety Tips for Dogs.
Keep them Cool
This is the most obvious but also most important rule of the summer. Here’s some quick tips to make sure your pooch stays cool during the summer months:
- Before walking, hiking, visiting the dog park and other outdoor activities, consider the temperature and humidity. As a guide, if the humidity and temperature add up to more than 150, it’s too hot for your pup. (For example, if it’s 95°F and the humidity is 60, which adds up to 155, it’s best to wait till it’s cooler)
- Always bring along water and take plenty of breaks when exploring the outdoors
- Ensure there’s a shady space and plenty of water when your pup’s in the backyard
- Keep your house cool, too (whether through A/C or fans)
- If your doggo exhibits signs of exhaustion—weakness, excessive drooling, heavy panting, glazed eyes, vomiting—end physical activity immediately and consult a vet ASAP.
Watch out for Heat Stroke
Typical canine temperature is between 100°-103. Heat stroke, which can permanently damage organs and even kill your pet, takes hold around 105°F. So, if worse comes to worse and your pup succumbs to heatstroke, you’ll need to be able to recognize the signs and symptoms quickly. Your dog’s life could depend on it. Here’s what to look out for:
- Bright red gums, or gums that appear dry
- Thick or excessive drooling
- Loss of balance
- Heavy panting
- Rapid heart rate
- Dark stool
- Lack of urine
If you witness these symptoms, transport your pup to a cooler space as soon as possible and and wipe them down with a cool, damp cloth. Have them drink cool—but not cold—water to avoid vomiting, which will only worsen dehydration and overheating. As soon as your pup is stable, visit a vet ASAP.
Keep the Bugs Away
Fleas, ticks and mosquitoes can ruin otherwise enjoyable summer days. In addition to causing serious skin irritation, these pests can transmit life-threatening illnesses and parasites to your pet (like heartworms from mosquito bites, for example). To protect your pet from these bugs, and to prevent pesticide exposure to you and your family, use a non-toxic, pet-safe bug repellent on your dog when outside this summer.
Do Not Shave Your Dog
While shedding some hair can help humans stay cool, our dogs are a bit different. In fact, a dense coat can actually help keep your pooch cool, protecting them from the sun’s harmful rays. Shaving your dog’s fur makes them more vulnerable to a litany of heat-related complications, including heatstroke, sunburn and dehydration. For this reason, avoid shaving your dog during the summer season, or at any time for that matter.
Practice Good Hygiene
From swimming to hiking, our pups tend to get much grimier in the summer season. Apart from the unpleasant odor of a dirty dog, poor hygiene can allow bacteria to build up on your pooch’s skin, causing irritation and in some cases illness. A filthy coat can also make your dog more susceptible to biting, disease-carrying pests. As a guide, bathe your pup monthly throughout the summer, more often if they’re adventurers or outdoor dogs (but not too often, over bathing can dry out your doggy’s skin). To avoid skin issues or exposure to harmful chemicals, always use a pet-safe shampoo sourced from natural ingredients.
Never, Ever, Ever Leave Your Dog in a Hot Car
We’ve all heard this before, we all know it, and yet it still keeps happening. Even in temperatures as low as 80°F, your pup can suffer a stroke or perish in a hot car in just a few minutes—that’s all it takes! Under no circumstance, ever, ever leave your pooch in a warm or hot vehicle. No excuses.
Did you know skin cancer is the most common kind of cancer in dogs? And just like in humans, sunburns can develop fast without notice, resulting in serious pain for days, even weeks. Especially if your dog has a short coat or is light-furred, apply pet-safe sunscreen every 3-5 hours when you and your pup go outside. Pay special attention to the ears, stomach area, and other spaces with little to no fur. We strongly suggest using only non-toxic, chemical-free sunscreen options.
Protect Your Dog’s Paws
Ever burn your feet on hot concrete? Yeah, it’s no fun, and the painful blisters can persist for weeks. Ouch! Well, your pup is not immune to this condition either. To protect their paw pads from cooking in the summer heat, avoid asphalt, concrete and other hot surfaces (including the metal beds of pickup trucks!). To test whether a surface will harm your doggo’s paws, place the back of your hand on the surface for approximately 10 seconds. If it’s too hot for your hand, it’s too hot for your dog. Dog booties are another option for guarding your pooch’s feet during the summer months.
Avoid Unfamiliar Grassy Spaces
Avoiding unfamiliar grassy lots can greatly reduce both your dog’s and your family’s exposure to chemical-based pesticides. Many outdoor spaces—such as public parks, local dog parks, and neighboring yards—are regularly treated with these harmful toxins. Unless you’re familiar with the space and how it’s maintained, it’s best to find another place for your dog to play. The risk is simply too great.
Closely Monitor Water Activities
From bacteria and parasites in natural bodies of water, to chemicals and drowning hazards in pools, water activities can be risky for pets and pet owners. We’re not saying avoid the water outright—swimming with dogs and visiting the lake are some of our favorite things about summer—but you need to watch your pup closely when in or around water. Monitor your dog to ensure they don’t drink unfamiliar water, including that of creeks and chlorine-saturated pool water. Also, be sure to rinse off your pup’s fur after they’ve been for a swim to remove chlorine, natural water contaminants, and to check for parasites like leeches.