Bring on the Dog Days of Summer (Part II) - Is Your Dog Ready?
Who doesn’t enjoy summer? I know I do! Sometimes, it’s seems I’m surrounded and even out-numbered by my winter-loving friends. But for me, it’s all about those long, never-ending days of summer.
Yes, I admit regretting my disparaging remarks about the cold weather, ice, and snow when those sweltering, humid mid-summer days finally arrive. But for many, including our dogs, summer may just be our most active time of year.
Focusing on our canine friends, what do you do to prepare your dog for the long, hot days of summer? There are some important health tips to keep in mind whether you’re hanging at home this summer or plan to board your pooch while you take that long-awaited vacation.
Thankfully, we have some great local resources to help us be prepared. According to Dr. Laura Weis with Doylestown Veterinary Hospital (DVH), “The heat and humidity can be challenging, especially for older pets and pets with various medical conditions. Remember, dogs only sweat through their paw pads! There are certain breeds like Bulldogs, Pugs and Boston Terriers that have a short noses and flat faces which pose a challenge to their ability to naturally cool through panting. An annual wellness examination with your veterinarian keeps your pet healthy and is an opportunity to discuss breed-specific care and seasonal concerns. In general, keep your pet cool, hydrated and watch for signs of heat stroke.”
In many ways, keeping your dog healthy isn’t much different than precautions you yourself would take to remain safe on a summer day. For example, it’s not a great idea for you to overexert yourself during the hottest part of the day, so nor should your dog! What’s best is to avoid taking your dog on that daily walk or outside for that back-yard game of catch until the cooler temps of the evening prevail. A good rule of thumb: if you’re uncomfortable in the heat and would do anything for some air-conditioned coolness (or at least some relief in the shade), you dog is uncomfortable too!
The same holds true with hydration. We already know the benefits of staying well-hydrated each day, but often forget to do the same for our furry friends. The folks at DVH remind us that this is especially important during the summer months.
“Whether your pet is inside, outside or on the go with you, always have fresh, cool drinking water available. Remember to carry along enough water for you and your pet. Convenient portable water bowls are available at your local pet shop. Most dogs love a refreshing splash in a baby pool or sprinkler, and for those who avoid getting wet, a misting bottle is a gentle way to stay cool,” reminds Weis.
What’s more, remember your dog’s paws during the summer months – especially when walking on concrete or asphalt where they can easily burn. Use your water spray bottle to spritz them and keep them cool and move to walking in grass whenever possible.
Likewise, please be sure to put sunscreen on your dog if you’ll be in the sun frequently or during long exposure periods. Yes, just like human, dogs face the same threat of skin cancer when not properly protected.
But, there’s a caution! Though I’ve seen a few dog owners lovingly apply their human sunscreen on their pets, please don’t do this. Human sunscreen is NOT safe for your dog. In fact, ingredients such as zinc oxide are toxic! Your veterinarian can recommend a pet-friendly brand that’s safe, so please be sure to ask.
Finally, I hope it goes without saying that dogs should never be left inside a hot, locked car. Nope, not even for a few moments because that’s all it takes for your dog to die of heat stroke. And, no, cracking the window doesn’t help! So, what do you do if you see a dog or other animal locked inside a hot car? Immediately call local emergency personnel who can assist in the rescue.
Those are just a few quick reminders to keep your dog safe and happy this summer (for more tips from DVH click here). But speaking of happy, what makes your dog the happiest in summer time? While you’re planning your own summer fun, don’t forget to plan something fun for Fido, too!
Here’s a suggestion. Have you checked out the Doylestown Dog Park (near Almshouse and Turk Roads)? Created by volunteers, the park is run by Doylestown Township and maintained tax-free through donations and offers a great place to socialize with your dog or participate in a fun dog event. Some recent events include the Bark-minster Dog Show and “lure coursing” training. Lure coursing is a fast-paced dog sport where they chase a lure or “bunny” (a white plastic bag) attached to a mechanized line. What a great way to exercise your pooch!
Anyone can register to use the Doylestown Dog Park, but residents of the borough and township receive a discounted fee. Those wishing to register must also attend an orientation to learn the rules and regulations of the park to ensure a positive experience. Check out the website for more information.
Or, maybe you’re headed to the beach for the day and want to take your dog along. First off, ensure that the beach you’re visiting permits dog on the beach in-season or if there are designated hours for your sand- or water-loving dog to visit. Like the other safety rules, there are definitely some things to consider before tossing that ball into the ocean waves for your dog to fetch.
For example, are you even sure that your dog can or even wants to swim? Seems like a silly question. But, the doggie paddle doesn’t necessarily ensure safety in the water. Be sure you’ve tested your dog’s comfort level in a small baby pool first. You may even want to consider a dog lifejacket if you’re a boater or near water frequently. If you already know your dog is a water lover, just be sure you’ve spoken with your vet if you swim mostly in lakes, ponds, or rivers. You’ll want to guard against parasites.
Finally, though I know we hate to leave them, if you can’t take your dog on vacation with you, you’ll need to make an informed decision about boarding your dog. If you want to enjoy your vacation dog-free, your pet-care plans could be one of the most important decisions you make to ensure a worry-free trip. Thankfully, my fellow FIG Doylestown blogger Jennifer Ashenfelter, marketing coordinator for DVH & Holiday House Pet Resort, recently posted her blog on this topic. It’s an important read so please check it out: Pet Boarding: In-home Care or Resort Lodging.
So whether or not summer is your favorite season, I hope you and your dog will enjoy some new and fun adventures this summer. Just be sure to make them healthy and happy ones!