You may or may not already know, but our pets can face some definite challenges during the summertime. Just like their human counterparts, there are certain factors to be aware of with our furry family members when the weather starts to heat up.
The biggest concern for anyone, human or animal, during the hot summer months is heat stroke. Since dogs can’t sweat like we do, care should be used to avoid strenuous activity during the middle of the day when the sun is at is hottest or anytime of the day that the temperature is elevated. If you are hot and tired then your dog is too! Other reasons your dog may experience heat stroke is being left outside without access to shade or a ready supply of water, wearing a muzzle (which prevents panting), and this should not even have to be mentioned, but being left in a hot car. Even with windows cracked, the shortwave radiation from the sun can heat up a 70 degree car to 104 degrees in a matter of just 10 minutes! Dog breeds with flat faces such as boxers, pugs, and bulldogs are also at an increased risk of heat stroke due to their restricted airways. According to petmed.com, warning signs of heat stroke in dogs can include: panting, drooling or salivating, distressed breathing, bright red tongue, agitation or restlessness, very red or pale gums, increased heart rate, vomiting and/or diarrhea, uncoordinated movements, and loss of consciousness.
A topic that I have noticed gaining more publicity over the years is the issue of hot pavement on our pups paws. Remember when you where a kid running barefoot in the summer? That hot pavement was no fun and it isn’t for our dogs either. There are booties that can be purchased for your dog to wear although this may prove tricky to get your dog to wear them and actually walk. A test that you can do to see if the pavement is too hot is to go outside barefoot or hold the back of your bare hand on the pavement and if you can hold it there for 5 seconds, then it’s okay for your dog.
Parasites can also become as issue for our pets during the summer months. Warm weather is ideal for many parasites but most can be avoided all together with monthly preventative treatments for fleas, ticks, heartworm, and even mosquitoes. Other types of worms beside heartworm include hookworms, roundworms, whipworms, and tapeworms and there is currently no preventative treatments and it is imperative to know the signs of a possible infestation: diarrhea which may become bloody, vomiting, and weight loss. Many of these worms may stay in the intestinal tract without causing apparent symptoms and that is another reason why it is so important to have regular checkups with your veterinarian.
Sunscreen is something that most people don’t think about for their pup, but if your dog has a short coat or thin hair, or light colored skin they may be particularly at risk for a sunburn. Obviously, reddened skin is a symptom of a sunburn but also there may be hair loss. With a sunburn, also comes an increased risk of skin cancer, and other types of skin conditions associated with sun exposure. Anywhere there is decreased skin pigmentation, there is a risk of sunburn: bridge of nose, tips of ears, skin around the lips, and skin around the inside of the legs, groin, and abdomen. Just be careful that the sunscreen you choose is pet-friendly.
With the warmer weather, we like to spend more time outdoors and with that comes more people doing yard work. Fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides can all have varying effects on our pets’ health and this article would not be complete without mentioning them. Luckily today, more companies are developing safer alternatives to these chemicals that are not only better for the environment, but also better for wildlife and our pets alike. According to petmd.com, the symptoms of exposure can range from vomiting to seizures, so there is no definitive way to tell if your dog has been exposed. We as good pet parents need to identify anything unusual with our pet and as always consult your veterinarian.
The last item I need to mention seems like a no-brainer, but we all know a few that lack a bit of common sense. As the weather warms up, pet owners need to be sure they have window screens in place if they open their windows, ensure that your pet is in a fenced yard, or if out on a walk that they are on a leash and wearing their identification tags if they should get away from you. It’s also worth mentioning to keep your pets indoors on Independence Day and do not take them to that picnic everyone is attending. Dogs especially are terrified of fireworks and according to the ASPCA, more dogs go missing due to loud noises such as fireworks and thunderstorms than any other reason. Don’t turn a nice holiday into a catastrophic event.
I have included links to a couple products that can help your dog have their best summer yet! Have a safe summer with plenty of belly rubs!