Summer is quickly approaching, and we’re looking forward to a season of healthy exercise out in the fresh air and sun! From hiking in the woods to running on trails, diving into lakes and playing on the beach, summer is always one of our dogs’ favorite times of year. But before you head out into the sunshine with your canine, it’s important to be aware of basic dog safety.
Follow these dog safety tips to ensure a fun and safe summer outdoors with your pooch!
10 Tips to Keep Your Dog Safe this Summer
1. Protect paws from heat.
The surface of a road can get as hot as 140 degrees Fahrenheit on a summer day (1). That’s hot enough to burn your dog’s paws and cause serious injury. If pavement is too hot for you to comfortably place your hand on it for at least 10 seconds, then it’s too hot for your canine’s paws. To protect your dog’s paws, only walk them on pavement during the morning or late evening, and stick to grass during the heat of the day.
2. Never leave your dog in the car.
Not even for a minute! On an 85-degree day, your car can reach 102 degrees within 10 minutes and 120 degrees within 30 minutes, causing irreversible organ damage or death (2).
3. Lots of shade and water.
Dogs can’t sweat like we do to cool off, so their only means of beating the heat are panting, drinking water, and getting out of the sun. An ample supply of water and some shade will help your dog stay cool. Even better, get your dog their very own kiddie pool for a way to cool off while also having lots of fun!
4. Limit exercise.
We know this sounds confusing, as exercise is an important part of your dog’s healthy diet. But in high temperatures, it’s important to limit your pup’s outdoor exercise to morning or late evening when it’s cooler. If the humidity is high, or it’s sweltering hot, skip running with your dog for the day and play indoors. Dogs can’t cool themselves when the humidity is high, which can cause your pup’s temperature to dangerously rise very quickly.
5. Know the signs of heat stroke.
Heat stroke occurs in dogs when their body temperature reaches 106 degrees Fahrenheit. Your dog’s body can’t accommodate this excessive internal heat, and it can lead to organ dysfunction. Heavy panting, a raised heartbeat, glazed eyes, lethargy, vomiting, a red or purple tongue, fever, difficulty breathing, lack of coordination, and profuse salivation are all signs of heat stroke. If your dog is showing signs of heat stroke, bring them into air conditioning; apply ice packs to their head, neck and chest; run cool (not cold) water on them; let them drink small amounts of cool water; and take them to a veterinarian immediately (3).
6. Protect your dog from parasites.
Summer months are also peak time for ticks, fleas, flies, mosquitoes, and other insects. If not protected, your dog can be at risk for heart worms, lyme disease, and a handful of other nasty conditions. For the dog safety tips based on where you live, talk to your veterinarian about the best way to protect your pooch from parasites.
7. Avoid foxtails.
Foxtails are wild grasses with seed heads that have sharp bristles and microscopic barbs that can catch on your dog’s fur, or get in their eyes, nose and ears. If not promptly removed, the bristles can dig through your dog’s skin and eventually perforate their organs. Keep your pooch away from areas with foxtail grass, and be sure to check your dog for foxtails after being outside. If you catch the barbs early enough, you can remove them with tweezers. But if the bristles are in your dog’s eyes, ears or nose, or in his skin, take him immediately to a vet for removal (4). (Read more about how to protect your dog against foxtails.)
8. Use sunscreen.
Pups with short or light-colored coats are especially susceptible to sunburns. Just like us, a burn can cause your dog painful burning, itching and peeling. Use sunscreens that are meant for pets or babies on your dog.
9. Play safe in water.
Don’t assume your dog is a good swimmer. Until you gauge their swimming skills, it’s best to stick to shallow water. If your dog is a swimmer, make sure they’re not overexerting themselves in deep water. With the heat, sun, and any potential currents, even strong swimmers can tire very quickly!
10. Make holidays safe.
Summer holidays often mean bonfires, barbecues, and fireworks. A burning stick or food residue on a hot bbq grate can be tempting to your pup, so keep them on a short leash in these situations. Dogs are also tempted by fireworks, which can look like sticks, so be sure to keep them far out of reach. If your dog is scared of firework noise (which many are), it may be best to keep them inside on holidays like the 4th of July, and make sure someone is there with them.
If you follow these dog safety tips, you can be sure your pup will stay happy and healthy throughout the summer months (and thoroughly enjoy the chance to play in the sunshine!).
Feed your dog the healthiest food possible with NomNomNow, and give them the energy they need for outdoor exercise and play.