As the days get warmer and we start enjoying the beautiful weather, it’s a common time for dog owners to begin spending more time outside. As a result, it becomes more likely for accidents to happen or for dogs to be harmed by outdoor factors. Check out our list of important topics every pet owner should know to help keep their dogs safe during the warmer months.
If you’re a frequent visitor of local dog-only parks or dog-friendly parks, you should know a few important things to keep you and your dog safe in these public areas.
- Make sure your dog is up to date on all annual vaccinations to protect both them and the other dogs from potentially spreading diseases.
- Make sure you have proper control of your dog for safe entry to the dog area and to limit the risk of “escalation.” If you’re unfamiliar with this term when describing behavior, escalation refers to when your dog is past the threshold of being able to listen to commands, control anger signals such as excessive barking, and altogether not be able to calm down normally. For tips on ensuring you’re using the proper leash and harness for your pet’s size, visit our other blog here. If you have any specific questions about your dog’s likeliness to escalate, we provide behavioral consultations with Dr. Loeffler.
- Make sure your dog is in the right behavioral mindset to interact with other dogs. If your dog seems like he/she is tense or agitated, then perhaps consider postponing your dog park plans. Entering a high-energy environment with an already escalated dog can lead to worsening behavior or misbehaving around other dogs. Instead, consider waiting for a day until your dog is calmer to ensure the visit goes well for everyone involved.
- Be mindful of other dogs and pet parents. Even if you wait for your dog to behave well, other pet parents may not take the necessary precautions. Make sure you’re making the best decision for both your dog and the other dogs visiting the park.
- After multiple unsuccessful park visits, it may be time to accept that perhaps your dog is not best suited for that environment. Instead, you can try visiting local nature trails so your dog still has the availability to walk outside but in a less dog-crowded area.
As your pets spend more time outside, it’s easy to assume they are safe. However, extended amounts of time in direct sunshine and heat can be dangerous for your dogs. Dogs typically overheat much quicker than humans because their normal body temperature starts at 100 degrees. The following are some tips to help you prevent heat exhaustion:
- Always provide easy access to fresh, cool water and make sure you check and refill the water bowls frequently.
- Try to provide shaded areas as an option in your outdoor space.
- If possible, create an environment with both inside and outside options. For example, install a doggy door that leads to a safe and enclosed outdoor area so that your pets can come in and out of the heat as they please.
- Trust your pet. If they are laying by the door, they are probably ready to come inside. Don’t force your pets to spend time outside if they are indicating signs of wanting to be inside.
- Dogs should not be left unattended outside for extended periods of time. If left unsupervised, the warning signs of heat exhaustion will be missed. Be mindful of the time they are outside by setting times to remind yourself to check on them and/or bring them inside for a break from the sun.
- Be mindful of upcoming weather. In our area, we tend to have periods where the heat is at an extreme high for a few days at a time. Be prepared for these periods by giving your dog plenty of exercise in the days leading up to the heatwave. This will allow them to rest indoors on the hotter days and not feel pressured to be outside in unsafe conditions. In fact, Vets recommend specifically keeping your pet outdoor time-limited when the temperature outside is over 75 degrees. If you’re worried about forgetting to check the weather or preparing with additional exercise, then check out our social media profiles (@telfordvet) and turn on post notifications. We will be sure to keep our clients updated on these extreme conditions throughout the summer and continue to provide summertime-specific pet care tips.
- You should also be mindful of hot asphalt on your property. A good way to test it is that you should be able to keep your hand down for 5 seconds. If you can’t, then your dog shouldn’t be lying on it. Also, avoid being outside around midday when the heat is at its peak. Instead, try to be outside in the early morning or evenings when it’s not as hot.
In addition to heat exhaustion, dogs can also undergo heatstroke, which can be much more serious. The following are some common symptoms you can use to identify heatstroke in your dogs:
- Excessive Panting
- Staggered walking
- Sunken Eyes
- Tacky Gums
- Thick Drool
- Lack of Urine
Please call TVH right away if your dogs have spent excessive time outside and are exhibiting any of these symptoms.
Along with summertime comes frequent outdoor backyard BBQs. Before you plan what you’ll be serving, be aware of which seasonal foods are harmful to your pets. You never know what scraps will be dropped on the ground for your pets to find later. It is sometimes just best to keep your pet separate during mealtimes if he/she is highly food motivated so as to avoid any accidents altogether.
- Large portions of any kind of human food
- Bones of any kind (chicken, ribs, fish, etc.)
- Low sugar/sugar-free foods containing xylitol, such as ketchup & BBQ sauce
- The following fruits & veggies: onions/garlic, avocados, cherries, grapes, tomatoes, peaches, & plums
- Small portions of meat and fish (preferably lean meats)
- Watermelon, but without the seeds!
- The following fruits & veggies: sweet potatoes, green beans, cucumbers, zucchini, carrots, & bananas
Check out these additional TVH Blogs for more summertime seasonal topics:
Beat the Heat: Summertime Activities
Before You Go On Vacation: What Your Pet Sitter Needs To Know