Lesser-Known Summer Dog Dangers
Summertime is here.
With the longer days, warmer temperatures, and vacation time, it’s a great time to be outdoors. And for many dog owners, more time outside in the sun for the owners means more time outdoors with their furry best friends.
Most dogs enjoy being outside, and all dogs love being with their people. But the summer can present some dangers to your dog that you need to be aware of and guard against.
One of the most obvious—and dangerous—aspects of summer is the heat. Yes, you know better than to leave your dog in the car, even for a couple of minutes. And you know to keep fresh water available for him and to make sure he has shade, especially if he’s outside.
But have you given thought to the hot asphalt or pavement? How hot is too hot? Here’s a simple test you can do. Place your palm on the sidewalk or street for 30 seconds. If it’s too hot for your palm, it’s too hot for your dog’s paws. This test also works well for sand or metal: any surface that retains the heat.
If the pavement is too hot for your furry friend, have him walk in the grass. If that’s not possible, try taking him out earlier in the day and/or later in the evening. If these options are not practical for you, consider getting your dog some booties made for protection against the heat. Not only can the hot ground be painful when your dog walks, it can also cause him to overheat more quickly.
You also need to consider not only the heat, but the humidity. Dogs cool off primarily by panting. The higher the humidity, the less effective their panting becomes.
You should watch for signs of heatstroke. Breeds of dogs with “pushed-in” faces, like bulldogs, pugs, and boxers, have troubles breathing under the best of circumstances and can be more prone to heatstroke. Older, overweight, ill, or very young dogs are also more susceptible.
Some signs of heatstroke include heavy panting; labored breathing; excessive salivation; confusion, vomiting, and diarrhea. If your dog exhibits these signs, get him to a cool place immediately. Take him to the vet if the symptoms persist.
Yep, you read that right. Even with a fur coat, dogs can not only get sunburned, they can also get skin cancer. Dogs with short fur, and ones with white or light-colored fur, are most susceptible.
You protect your dog the same way you protect yourself: with sunscreen. But be sure to get a sunscreen that made for pets: human sunscreen can have ingredients that can poison your dog if he licks it. And if you’re out for the day, reapply sunscreen every two hours or so to keep your dog protected.
Dogs love to go swimming, and a lot of people like to take their dogs to the lake, a pond, or the ocean with them. You know to bring along fresh water for your dog to drink, so he doesn’t get sick drinking algae-ridden fresh water or drinking saltwater.
But one of the biggest problems dogs have at the beach is with the sand. Not that your dog intentionally eats it. But if you play fetch with your dog on a wet beach, every time he picks up the stick, ball, toy, or Frisbee, it has sand stuck to it. The sand will fall off in your dog’s mouth, and he’ll swallow it. This can lead to a dangerous blockage in his intestinal system.
Playing with your dog on the beach is fun, but head for an area where the sand is dry. Just be sure the sand is cool enough not to hurt your dog’s paws.
Cooking on the outdoor grill in your backyard or over a campfire in the woods is another fun part of summer. But it’s also a potential dog hazard that many people don’t consider.
When you’re cooking on the grill, food and grease can stick to the grill plate. That smell can be almost irresistible to your furry friend. Close the grill, restrain your dog, or do something to make sure your dog doesn’t burn his tongue, lips, and/or mouth trying to lick the grill.
And those sticks in the campfire? Your dog will probably leave it alone while the campfire’s roaring. But as the fire dies down and begins the cool, your dog may grab one of the stick and take off. He may enjoy the chase as you run after him. Getting the stick from him may injure you or your dog. Or he might drop it and spark a wildfire.
And remember the well-known dangers…
Fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes abound in the summer. Be sure to protect your dog against not only the annoyance of these pests, but the diseases they can infect your dog with.
Bees, wasps, and fire ants can sting or bite your dog the same way they can attack you. Be on guard to keep your dog away from these critters. If your dog is stung or bitten, keep an eye on him. If he has signs of a severe reaction, get him to the vet right away. Also take him for medical care immediately if he swells profusely, especially around his nose, throat, or mouth as it may make it difficult for him to breathe.
And keep an eye out for snakes. Dogs are intrigued by those wiggly, moving sticks. If your dog is bitten by a snake, try to get as complete of a description of the snake as possible. Better yet, take a picture. This will help your vet know how best to care for your dog.
Summertime is a fun time for all. Be aware and prepared for the potential dangers out there so you and your dog can have the best summer ever.