Dog Safety Guide: Summer Kit
It seems like all year we are just waiting for summer to come around… and when it is, we aren’t ready. It’s like 0 to 100 so quick and we find ourselves exhausted, burnt, dehydrated, and praying for a rainy day so that we don’t get sun guilt when staying inside and watching netflix…We aren’t the only ones, though, who feel the negatives of summertime! Dogs are susceptible to just as many things as us humans when it comes to sun safety. Here we will lay out some things to be conscious of as you enjoy the summer with your pet.
SUMMER DOG SAFETY
NEVER leave dogs in cars and look out for heat exhaustion
Cracking the windows makes no difference in the temperature gain. It doesn’t take high temperatures for it to be dangerous. This can be a huge problem for dog safety. A car parked in the shade can reach dangerous temperatures on a hot day; and if it’s in the sun, the temperature can rapidly rise up to 70°C. Experiments showed that even at a mild 22°C, the inside of a car reached 47°C in an hour, plenty hot to kill a dog. One dog died after being locked in a parked car on a sunny, 19°C day, even though the car windows were cracked. Finally, if you’re out running errands, the safest place for your dog is at home.
When walking, if you see a dog left alone in a car under dangerous conditions, note the car's location, colour, model, make, and license plate number, and contact local humane authorities or police, who usually have authority to break in to save the animal. If you can make a good guess as to which store the driver might be in, ask the store manager to page them. Finally, when looking at the dog, if the animal shows symptoms of heatstroke, immediately take steps towards dog safety by lowering the animals temperature.
Dogs can’t sweat—they control their body temperature by panting. If the air in the car is near or above the dog’s body temperature (about 38°C), the dog will be unable to cool itself, and its body temperature can quickly rise to fatal levels (over 41°C). Heatstroke symptoms in dogs include: heavy panting, dry or bright red gums, thick drool, vomiting, diarrhea, or wobbly legs.
If you notice these symptoms, don’t place her in ice cold water, which can put her into shock. This is not the right reaction for proper dog-safety. Instead, move her to a cool place, drape a damp towel over her body, rewet the cloth frequently, and get her to the vet as soon as you possibly can. A dog's normal temperature is between 38.3° and 39.2°C, so once she hits 40°C, she's in dangerous territory (41°C or higher can be fatal).
How much water do dogs need?
Let’s emphasize some more… WATER. FRESH, CLEAN, WATER. Always make sure you have some on you, or quick access to it. Every time you need a drink, make sure your pup drinks as well. Keeping your pet hydrated is one of the best ways to encourage dog safety.
How to keep dogs cool indoors?
When you are going to be gone for long hours of the day, make sure the house is cool. If you have AC, great. If not, keep blinds closed, windows open (make sure there are screens in them), fans on, and plenty of access to fresh water. Each of these factors result in great dog safety strategies.
Should I put sunscreen on my dog?
Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in dogs. Even though fur provides some protection from the sun, you should apply a pet sunblock every 3 to 4 hours to the least-hair-covered spots: bellies, (especially ones who like to lie on their backs), ears, and around eyes, which are all areas where malignant tumors are likely to show up.
If your dog has very light or thin fur, also apply to their coat. You can purchase pet sunscreen at virtually any pet store! If a dog gets sunburnt, apply a thin layer of pure aloe vera twice daily to soothe the irritated area (it’s a good idea to check with a vet about the brand you use, but if it’s totally pure aloe it should be okay!). So, for dog safety, keep your dogs out of the sun.
Long Hair Dogs in the Summer
You may think you are doing your dog a favour and cooling them off by cutting their fur, but that fur is like that for a reason. It’s insulating in the winter and provides a cooling system in the summer. So… resist the urge to cut it! "If hair—even long hair—is brushed and not matted, it provides better circulation and helps regulate body temperature," says Rene Carlson, DVM, former president of the American Veterinary Medical Association.
Avoid walks on asphalt at mid-day
It’s best to avoid walking a dog during the day's highest heat and humidity, which is usually between 1 and 4 PM. This is especially important for dogs with short snouts, such as bulldogs, who can't pant as efficiently in humid weather due to their narrowed nostrils and windpipes. If there is no escaping this time frame, then make sure you are well equipped with water, sunscreen, and frequent shade breaks.
If you do decide to walk the dog at this time, make sure you avoid asphalt… or at least test to see if it’s too hot. A good indicator of the asphalt being too hot is standing barefoot on it yourself for five seconds. If it’s too hot for you, it’s too hot for pups. Maybe take the dog to a heavily wooded trail with lots of shade instead!
Don’t assume dogs are strong swimmers
- Have your dog wear a life vest in a bright color in any body of water to help her stay afloat and ensure that she can be seen by swimmers and boaters. Let her get used to wearing it in your yard first.
- Be aware of currents and riptides: if a dog gets in trouble in one of these in the ocean, whether while swimming or fetching a ball, she can be swept out to sea in minutes. The same goes for rivers: You need to watch out for currents, even if they're not readily visible, as your dog can be easily carried downstream.
- NEVER leave your dog unsupervised near an uncovered pool (That is poor dog safety!). Teach her how to get out of the pool by using the stairs with her 5 to 10 times in a row. This will help her learn where the stairs are, whether she's swimming or accidentally falls in and needs to climb out.
Dog Behaviour by Lakes
If your dog steps in a sinkhole, she may panic and need you to help her swim to where she can touch ground again. And avoid lakes and ponds with blue-green algae, signified by scummy water and a foul odor. Algae can produce a toxin that may cause severe sickness or seizures quickly if your pet ingests the water, by either drinking from the lake or licking tainted fur.
Dogs reaction to Mosquitoes and Parasites
Hookworms and heartworms are more prevalent during the summer and can infect your pet through the pads of his feet. Ask your vet for a prescription for Heartgard Plus or Interceptor Flavor Tabs, which will help keep parasites at bay.
Most flea and tick products are formulated to repel mosquitos as well. Human bug sprays are great for us, but they’re toxic for our furry friends. DEET, the main ingredient in most drugstore bug sprays, can cause vomiting, seizures, and skin irritation when exposed to dogs. Make sure that your dog doesn’t lick you post-DEET bath. Also, avoid walking at dawn and dusk AKA mosquito rush hour. If you would like, lemon eucalyptus oil is also a natural mosquito repellent.
Dog Safety in Your Yard
Azaleas are common backyard shrubs that can be toxic for dogs and cats if ingested, resulting in drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, heart arrhythmias, or an abnormal heart rate. Lilies are toxic to cats, so you might as well avoid those as well. Toxic mushrooms grow in many areas of the country, so be vigilant about removing them from your yard. Many plants (and all bulbs) are also toxic. Bulbs look a lot like dog toys, so keep them out of reach!
Summer also brings chemical hazards. Antifreeze is particularly deadly, so leaky cars are a hazard; clean up any spills immediately. This is the also the time of year when people are using fertilizers, mulches, and pesticides in yards and on lawns. While professionals will usually put flags up, do-it-yourselfers might not. Don’t let your dog wander in other yards where chemicals or cocoa mulch (toxic if ingested) might be used.
Dogs Reaction to Fireworks
First of all, don’t let them eat them! If eaten, fireworks can cause vomiting, bloody diarrhea, seizures, and shallow breathing. Keep yours out of reach, and clear your yard of debris after you set off your display.
Also understand that many dogs are terrified of the loud noises that accompany fireworks. Make sure wherever you are is secure and that there is no way that your dog can bolt when the show starts. Make sure your dog feels safe, their collar with their ID is on, and there are treats, toys, and you by their side.
Drive Safely with Dogs
As much as your dog may love to ride in the bed of a pickup, or hang his head out the window, either can cause your dog a world of hurt. Dust and gravel in the eyes are just the beginning; every year thousands of dogs are injured or killed when they jump or fall from vehicles. Even in an enclosed car, pets can be thrown and injured if you have to brake suddenly.
For car rides of any length, the very safest place for pets is in the back seat, either wearing a safety harness, or in a carrier or confined area. Pets loose in the car can distract and interfere with the driver, which could result in an accident. Harnesses designed as “doggie seat belts” provide safety during the trip, and prevent your dog from getting loose if someone unexpectedly opens the door. If your dog must ride in a truck bed, use a carrier or cross-ties to prevent injuries.
Always carry dog identification
Pets should always wear a collar or harness and ID tag, no matter where they are or where they’re going. Owners, please consider having your pet microchipped as added “insurance.” Thousands of lost pets have been returned home thanks to microchips!
Dog First aid kit
Whether at home or away, keep a first aid kit ready in case of emergencies. There are special kits for both dogs and cats, so you never have to panic! You might also want to keep flower essences on hand, to keep your pet calm while you give first aid or head for the vet.