Spring and summer can be a fantastic time of year for dog owners. After all, the good weather means you can go on all kinds of fun days out with your faithful friend, while the longer daylight hours make those early-morning and evening walks much more pleasant.
However, no matter how much you and your dog love the summertime, this season definitely comes with a few dangers for your playful pooch. Easily dealt with if you know what they are, these dangers are mostly (but not exclusively) related to heat.
Out for walks
When the weather heats up, you might need to tweak your pet's daily exercise regime to make sure he isn't out and about during the hottest part of the day. Ideally, take him for his longest walk early in the morning, before the sun has had a chance to heat up the pavements. This isn't only important for making sure your dog doesn't overheat, but also for preventing his paws from getting burned. To check if the pavement is too hot for your dog, put your hand on it for 15 seconds. If that's painful for you, or you can't even keep your hand there for that long, it'll be too hot for your pooch!
Evenings are another good time for dog walks in the summer, when the sun still shines but the streets have lost the intense heat of the day. Whatever time of day you decide to go, take a portable water bowl so your pet can stay hydrated.
Also, if you like walking your dog through meadows or long grass in the summer months, you will need to keep your eyes peeled for grass seed injuries. Commonly affecting paws or ears, grass seed injuries can be more serious than they sound, causing intense discomfort and even infections. Look out for your dog shaking his head, pawing at an ear or holding his head on one side - these are signs he may have one in his ear. Persistently licking a paw, limping, and a swollen paw are signs that a grass seed could be lodged in his paw. In either situation, take your dog to the vet.
Hydration and shade
The sunshine may be beautiful, but for a dog it's best enjoyed from the shade. In fact, dogs can get burnt in the sun just like humans, which means if you do intend to be outside for a while, you will need to apply a pet-safe suncream to protect his skin.
Just as important is ensuring your dog stays hydrated. He needs access to a constant supply of fresh water; leave out more than he can drink, just in case he's extra thirsty, which may well be the case in hot weather. To make sure he definitely has enough, it's important to know how much he needs usually. This varies from one breed to the next, but generally speaking, it will be about an ounce of water per pound of body weight.
Travel and holidays
Whether you are driving to your local park or going on holiday, cars can be troublesome places for dogs in summer. Generally speaking, if you provide shade and air conditioning while on the move, your pet will be quite happy; it is when your car is parked that the danger begins.
Fortunately, it's easy to avoid this danger by never, ever leaving your dog in a parked car - even if the window is open and you leave him water to drink. The temperature of parked cars can skyrocket in mere minutes, leaving your dog at risk of heat stroke and even death.
If you are taking your dog on a long car journey, such as if you are going on holiday, remember to bring a portable water bowl and to make regular stops so your pet can have a drink, stretch his legs and cool off.
In the case of holidays, once you have arrived in your chosen destination, make sure you familiarise yourself with the area a little before letting him off the lead. If you decide to visit the beach, be sure to clean his paws off thoroughly afterwards, as both sand and seawater can damage them.
Tips for keeping your dog cool
There are plenty of other little things you can do for your dog to help ensure he enjoys the summer without overheating. Here are some of the best:
- Invest in a small paddling pool. This will be a great place for him to cool off, not to mention have some fun!
- Place some cool things in his favourite spots in the house or shady areas of the garden, such as dog-friendly cool mats or frozen bottles of water, to take the edge off the heat.
- Spend less time than usual playing outdoors, and keep an eye on your dog for signs that he's getting tired out. After all, the heat can make all of us a little less energetic than usual!
Written by: Hannah Dyball