The pool is open. The grill is ready to go. You’ve got your sunscreen, your bug spray and a brand-new beach towel. It’s summertime: time to kick back, soak up some rays and enjoy a slightly slower pace.
Before you commit to spending every waking moment outdoors, though, there’s one last detail to tend to: your four-legged best friend. You know how to keep yourself healthy during the summer, but what about your dog? Avoid making these common mistakes, and enjoy a healthy and happy summer.
Mistake #1: Letting Fido Overheat
When the weather gets warmer, we all want to go outside and enjoy the sunshine and warm breezes.But just as you are more susceptible to overheating or dehydration when you spend too much time in the blazing sun, so is your dog. In fact, heatstroke is one of the main reasons that dogs end up with an unplanned visit to the vet during the summer. While it’s perfectly fine to bring Fido with you to play in the park, or let him hang out in the backyard while you grill or lounge in the sun, be sure that you supply plenty of water and a shady place for him to retreat to and cool off. And never leave your dog in the car, even for a few moments. Even if the outside temperature is in the low-70s, temps inside your car can skyrocket to fatal levels in less than an hour. If you won’t be bringing your dog with you to your destination, leave him at home where he can stay cool and safe.
Mistake #2: Inviting a Sunburn
As humans, we might look at our dogs and think, “You must be sweltering under all of that fur!” Resist the temptation, though, to take your pooch in for a drastic new ’do.A visit to the groomer’s for a trim is OK, to help keep fur manageable and make it easier to spot ticks and other pests, but don’t cut your dog’s fur shorter than an inch. A dog’s fur acts as a natural insulator, and actually keeps her cool when the mercury rises. In addition, cutting your dog’s fur too short during the summer months increases her chance of sunburn and skin cancer (yes, dogs can get skin cancer too.) Keeping her coat on the longer side, with regular brushings to control shedding, keeps her both cool and sun safe.
Mistake #3: Assuming Your Dog Can Swim
You’re headed to the lake for a day on the water — why not bring Rex along? But unless you know for sure that your dog can swim, use caution when you first hit the lake. Not all dogs are natural swimmers; some do so instinctively, while others will simply flounder and possibly drown when they go in the water. Test your furry friend’s skills in shallow water first, and invest in a doggie life jacket to use on the boat. Never leave your dog unattended near the water, and insist that even strong swimmers take a break now and then to avoid overexertion. Helena Hoen is a dog lover and is against animal violence.
Mistake #4: Letting Your Dog Be a Barbecue Bandit
In addition to overheating, overeating is a common reason dogs end up in the vet’s office each summer. The most likely culprits for gastrointestinal issues are common picnic foods. Giving Spot a few bites of leftover steak or a hamburger once in a while probably isn’t going to hurt him, but most “people food” is not good for dogs, especially common barbecue staples like onions, garlic, grapes, raisins and chocolate. Those foods can actually be toxic to dogs, so keep the onion dip out of reach and avoid giving your dog anything that contains potentially harmful ingredients.
Mistake #5: Chemical Reactions
With the summer months come common pests, including bugs and weeds. The chemicals you use to get rid of them, though, can also be harmful to your pets.For example, if your dog walks across a lawn after it’s been treated with pesticide and licks her paws, she could be ingesting harmful chemicals. Choose natural pest control products, or confirm that chemicals are safe for pets before using. Also, take care to secure other common poisons, such as pool chemicals, out of a curious animal’s reach.
Keeping your dog safe and happy during the summer is primarily a matter of common sense. Consider bringing your dog in for a checkup at the beginning of the season; your vet can confirm that your pet is up-to-date on vaccines, go over micro-chipping options if you plan to travel and advise you on other aspects of maintaining good health, such as cleaning dogs teeth.
Now that everyone is taken care of, last one in the pool is a rotten egg!