Ah, summer… The time of year when everyone is headed up north, out to the lake, or getting together in social gatherings. Although summer can be one of the most enjoyable times to partake in activities with our four-legged friends, there are still some things for which we need to be cautious. Here is a list of topics to remember when enjoying the sun and holidays with your four-legged friends:
1. Do not leave your pet in the car!
Under no circumstance in the hot weather should your pet ever be left in the car. When the outside temperature is around 21°C, a car parked in direct sunlight can reach a temperature of 50°C or higher within minutes! Either arrange for someone to wait in the car with your pet and keep the air on, or run any errands without your pet.
2. Traveling with your dog
When traveling in the car, most owners have their dogs in the back of the vehicle. This can be an unsafe situation for your pet. The safest place for your dog to travel is in a plastic airline approved crate. If there is an accident your dog will be better protected. If crating is not an option make sure to keep your pet towards the middle of the car since many trips in the summer can be in heavy traffic and problems can occur. Also the back of your car may have poorer air circulation and with the sun coming through the rear window the temperature can be much higher than we feel in the front. Keep your four-legged family member comfortable when traveling.
3. Protect Paw pads
We have the ability to wear shoes on our feet and therefore we are not aware of the temperature of the ground we are walking on. At 50°C skin damage can happen in 60 seconds!! When temperatures are around 25°C, the temperature of asphalt can reach 50°C. With the sun being able to heat certain surfaces quickly, it is best to walk your dog on grass. If that is not an option, plan your walks around times when the sun is not as hot. And watch pool activities! Pads can be scrapped or damaged when running around the pool side with excitement.
4. Enjoy physical activity in early morning or later evening
When running or walking your dog in the summer months, try to do this in the early hours of the morning or later hours of the evening. Dogs and cats do not sweat to release heat! They can only pant. When the sun is not at its highest peak and temperature & humidity are lower, your pet will have a much lower risk of dehydration and heat stroke. It is also very important to keep your dog in a healthy body weight to be able to cope with physical activity in the warm, humid weather. Brachycephalic breeds (Ex: Bullmastiffs, Bulldogs, Boston Terriers, Boxers, Etc.) do not handle hot temperatures very well due to the shape of their skull and short noses. Please be extra cautious with these breeds out in the hot weather, they tend to pant harder and experience heat stroke a lot faster.
5. Your dog should ALWAYS have access to fresh water
Make sure that wherever you are going, whether it is a long hike, short walk or family BBQ that your dog always has easy access to fresh water. There are many travel options such as collapsible bowls and some dogs even enjoy drinking from a spray bottle. Always keep an extra bowl in the car to have on hand to avoid dehydration.
6. Water Safety
If you have never been in water with your dog, do not assume that they can swim! Water can pose as many dangers for dogs as for humans. First and foremost, if your dog is around deep water and can not swim or is not comfortable with water, they should be wearing a lifejacket. Heavy set breeds or heavier dogs do not have as much buoyancy. They should swim with life jackets and should not be plunged into deep water. When acclimatizing any dog to the water, they should have the option of walking in, or be gently guided in, rather than tossed. If they are thrown in and go under the water they can be terrified of water, aspirate water into their lungs, and possibly drown. When teaching your dog to swim, they may benefit starting off with a life jacket as it provides extra support and helps to keep their head above water until they get comfortable. Dogs should also have their own lifejacket when out on boats or watercrafts in case of an accident. In an emergency they may be startled from shock and may not swim like they usually do. We should also be aware that lake/pond water can harbour many forms of bacteria or parasites and pool water can have harsh chemicals. Be sure to always rinse your dog off with clean water after swimming to ensure the skin does not have any bad reactions. And dry your dog thoroughly after having a splash!
7. Campfires & BBQs
Social gatherings can present different hazards for your four-legged companions. Campfires have a large open flame which wagging tails can catch. Watch that flying sparks don’t hit your dog, or that they aren’t burned by getting too close to the fire. Hot sticks from roasting marshmallows can burn if ingested, and BBQing meat on wooden skewers smell yummy. They can also burn or cause choking or serious obstructions if eaten. Lighter fluid is poisonous if licked. For safety, keep your pet on a leash during a gathering, and under control.
During the summer months we have a couple of holidays that we celebrate with fireworks. This can be a very startling and scary experience for your dog. If we think fireworks are loud, consider doubling that noise to our pet’s sensitive ears. Then add in those sudden bursts of fire. Your dog can absolutely be content with being around fireworks if properly exposed. Again, if they are present, have them on a leash in case they get startled and run away. Plan ahead if your dog is very uncomfortable with the noise. The best way to handle their anxiety is to prevent it. Put your dog in a safe comfortable place prior to fireworks occurring, perhaps in a basement or a quiet room with a radio. If they are crate trained put them in their crate and cover it with a blanket to try and block out some of the sounds. There are also thunder shirts or anti-anxiety medications that may help your pet cope with these events. Feel free to talk to a staff member to see if we can help your pet in any way!