Summer is almost here and we are all looking forward to spending more time outside with our dogs. Whether it is camping, hiking, swimming, running or whatever else you favor; it is all more fun when you can bring our furry friends along. There are however some considerations to keep in mind so our adventures stay safe and fun.
Avoid Dehydration on the Go - People and dogs alike need to enough water in the summer heat. But dogs have it harder than we do in the sun, as they can't sweat&mash;except in some negligible way through their paws. Dogs need to ventilate and cool their bodies in other ways—the most important being panting. When our dog's tongue hangs out and it heavily pants, it is trying to cool its bodies by ventilation. If it gets too hot, that might not work and it can suffer a heat stroke. So we need to make sure our dogs don't get too hot in the summer sun and always have shade and plenty of water to escape the heat—it's better for us too.
Fresh and Cool Water at Home - We also need to make sure, to keep the water fresh and cool at home inside and outside the house. If our dogs live mostly outdoors, refreshing and replenishing their water supply several times a day is a good idea. We also need to check and avoid algae growth in their water bowls as that can lead to serious infections and illnesses, which will cost us plenty in vet bills. Pet watering systems which take the work out of remembering and refreshing the water are available in pet stores and online.
Shelter from the Sun - Dogs need shelter from the sun just like us. Some breeds also don't have a thick enough fur to protect their skin so they can get sun-burned, which can lead to skin cancer. If our dog's don't have enough protection we need to help them by providing shelter outside, applying a good natural sunscreen—look for dog sunscreens—or simply let them into our air conditioned homes. Outside fans can help with the heat to some degree.
Doggy Pools - A fun thing to have in the yard are small doggy pools that we can fill with fresh, cool water. Doggy pools are just big enough to give our friends and nice body of water to lie down in and cool off. Remember how much fun it is to dive into a cool pool in the summer heat? Our dogs enjoy it just the same and it helps them stay cool and healthy.
Cars - You should never leave our dogs unattended in a car, but this is especially important in the summer time and in many states this is actually illegal now. Even five minutes in the scorching summer heat inside a car can be too much for some dogs. So to avoid accidents, injuries or worse, we need to always bring our dog along when we leave our car in the sun.
Parasites and Pests - When we spend more time outdoors with our dogs they also face more exposure to the various parasites and pest in our environment. We should always check our dogs for ticks and fleas and use preventative measures to avoid them in the first place. A natural way to protect our dogs from ticks and fleas is to add a little bit of powdered garlic to their food—research usage and dosage. Mosquitos can transmit heart worm disease, which is quite nasty but easily preventable—a natural preventative is Noni Fruit Leather (avail. on Amazon.com) added to their food daily. You also want to keep your furry friends away from skunks—they really stink—and snakes. For the latter, it's a good idea to take our dogs to a rattlesnake avoidance class to teach them to leave snakes alone. If you are living very remotely and it would take over an hour to reach a vet, it might also make sense to look into rattlesnake vaccines, which don't protect a dog from the poison but buy us more time to reach a vet with anti-venom in case something does happen. Benadryl has the same effect than rattlesnake vaccine and no side effects, so I personally prefer to keep that on hand. Stings and bites from insects such as bees, wasps, scorpions and spiders are also risks to keep in mind.
Events - When we take our dogs along to events—outdoor or indoor—we need to make sure they can safely attend and have shade and plenty of water. It is always best to assume that no water will be available for our dog and bring enough water and doggy bowls with us. If you are not sure if an event is dog friendly and you can't find out for sure, it might be better to leave your friend at home and if necessary hire a pet sitter.
Summer Dog Products - Several products designed to keep our dogs cooler in the summer time are available in pet stores, some of these are: Cooling Vests, Cooling Collars, Cooling Beds and Kennel Cooling Fans.
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If you ever wonder what your dog is thinking, this book is for you. Dive inside your dog's mind and read in plain English how your dog sees the world and you—its pack.
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Ralf Weber is a certified dog trainer (IACP CDT) and behaviorist. A professional member of the International Association of Canine Professionals (IACP) and an AKC evaluator for Puppy S.T.A.R., Canine Good Citizen, and Community Canine certifications.