Summer offers numerous ways for you and your dog to have fun in the sun. Whether you are taking a trip to the lake, going to a cookout, or chilling by the pool, you should take a few precautions to ensure your dog stays safe this summer. Our team at LaGrange Veterinary Hospital wants to offer tips to help protect your dog from potential hazards.
#1: Ensure your dog does not become a hot dog
Dogs are susceptible to heatstroke, a serious condition that can be life-threatening. Certain dogs, such as geriatric dogs, obese dogs, dogs affected by a heart or respiratory condition, and brachycephalic breeds (i.e., pugs, boxers, and bulldogs) are more prone to heatstroke. Ensure they stay cool by following these recommendations:
- Keep your dog well hydrated by offering them water frequently on outings.
- Never leave your pet inside a parked car.
- Avoid strenuous activities on hot days.
- Ensure your pet can escape to a cool, shady, or air conditioned area.
#2: Ensure your dog does not become a piggy
Any change in your dog’s diet has the potential to cause them gastrointestinal upset. Certain foods, such as avocados, garlic, onions, and chocolate, are also toxic to pets, and can be dangerous if ingested. If your dog consumes toxic food, immediately contact the team at LaGrange Veterinary Hospital or Animal Poison Control. Scavenging dogs can accidentally ingest a foreign object that may cause an intestinal blockage, requiring surgery. Cooked bones are also dangerous, because they fracture easily and can damage your dog’s esophagus or gastrointestinal tract. Keep all food and garbage well out of your dog’s reach.
#3: Ensure your dog does not become a parasite’s meal
Fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes are out in force during the summer months, and all can transmit debilitating diseases to your dog. Fleas can cause flea bite dermatitis and transmit tapeworms. Ticks transmit many tick-borne diseases, such as Lyme disease, anaplasmosis, and ehrlichiosis. Mosquitoes transmit heartworms that can severely damage your pet’s heart and lungs. Check your dog after any outings for unwanted passengers. Ticks can attach anywhere on your dog, although they prefer dark, moist areas, and are commonly found under their tail, or in their armpit, groin area, and ears. Provide year-round flea, tick, and heartworm prevention to ensure they are protected from these dangerous parasites.
#4: Ensure your dog does not become lost in the sauce
During the excitement of a cookout or day at the lake, your dog may sneak away when you are distracted. Before heading out for the gathering, ensure your dog is wearing a collar and current identification tags. Getting them microchipped is the best way to ensure a happy reunion with your dog if they go missing. Dogs who are microchipped are two and a half times more likely to be returned to their owners than those without a microchip. This procedure can easily be done at your dog’s next wellness visit. If your dog is prone to running away, leaving them home may be the best option. If you are hosting a party, keep them inside an interior room to prevent escape, and leave music playing to help muffle any outdoor noises that may make them want to join the festivities.
#5: Ensure your dog does not become a drowned rat
Not all dogs can swim, and your dog should never be left unsupervised around a pool or natural water body. Or, they may be able to swim, but not know how to get out of the pool ledge if they jump in on a hot day. Ensure they know how to use the stairs if they will be swimming in a pool. You can provide a life-jacket for your dog, and this is highly recommended if you take your dog boating. You may also want to teach your dog to swim. Follow these steps:
- Start in a shallow area that has a gradual slope leading into the deeper water.
- Never force your dog to go in the water if they seem anxious or afraid.
- Keep your dog leashed during the swimming lesson and accompany them in the water.
- Once your dog starts paddling their front legs, support their belly until they start paddling their hind limbs.
- Keep the session short, praise your dog once you are back on dry land, and offer them a high value treat.
#6: Ensure your dog does not become a crispy critter
Dogs can become sunburned, too, especially dogs who have a thin haircoat, or who do not have much pigment to their skin. Ensure you use a sunscreen meant for dogs, and read the ingredient list, which should not contain zinc oxide or para-aminobenzoic acid, because they are toxic to dogs if ingested. Apply the sunscreen to their ears, bridge of their nose, skin around their lips, inner thighs, and anywhere pigment is light, but avoid getting any product in their eyes. Also, prevent them from grooming for at least 10 to 15 minutes, so the sunscreen can be absorbed. You will need to reapply their sunscreen every four hours, and after they go swimming.
You and your dog can enjoy this summer by following these safety tips. However, should your dog have any problems this summer, do not hesitate to contact our team at LaGrange Veterinary Hospital to schedule an appointment.