We love spending these warm summer days with our best friends, playing fetch and going on outdoor adventures. However, summer brings with it some particular concerns for the health and safety of our dogs. More heat means more exhausted pets and dangerous parasites. But with proper preventative measures and care, your dog can still safely enjoy the summer season.
Here are our 7 top tips for dog care this summer!
1.Be Mindful of Heatstroke
Like humans, dogs can easily overheat if exposed for too long. Heatstroke can be fatal, and most commonly occurs when dogs are left in a car. Even with the windows cracked, research shows that cars can heat to dangerous temperatures within just 15 minutes.
It’s also important to leave the AC running when you leave the house. Your pets need the air conditioning as well, and an energy-efficient 76 degrees should be enough to keep any dog healthy. Likewise, outdoor dogs need shade and plentiful fresh water at the very least, though access to an air-conditioned garage or mudroom is preferable. On heat advisory days, bring your pets inside.
As for exercise, try to avoid walking your dog when the sun and temperatures peak. Instead, walk your dog early in the morning or later in the day, consider taking shorter walks, and bring some fresh water and a bowl if possible.
2. Provide Extra Dental Care
Speaking of water, your dog will be extra thirsty with all of that summer heat. However, when dogs don’t get enough water, they have an increased risk of developing gum disease. In fact, research shows that 85% of dogs over 4 years old already have some form of gum disease, and dehydration can make it significantly worse.
As a result, this summer might be a great opportunity to get into the habit of brushing your dog’s teeth. Some dogs may struggle with this at first, but most can be trained to accept brushing with enough patience and care. If your dog seems particularly sensitive, your veterinarian can do a thorough examination to check for existing gum disease or other dental problems. For the time being, be sure to check out our care guide on brushing a dog’s teeth for training and product tips.
3. Protect Your Puppy’s Paws
Many pet owners might not consider the heat of the surfaces their dog walks on, but during the summer, sunbaked sidewalks can damage your dog’s sensitive paws. Burns and cracking can occur, leading to a great deal of discomfort and even infection.
The best way to protect your dog’s paws is to, of course, walk them during the cooler parts of the day. Letting them walk in the grass and avoiding sidewalks can also do the trick. When that’s not an option, you might try using a wax, moisturizer, or even dog shoes to help protect your dog’s paws. For example, Musher’s Secret offers a well-respected paw wax that protects against heat, chemicals, and even course surfaces like sand.
4. Groom, but Don’t Shave Your Dog
Proper grooming and bathing can work wonders for your dog’s comfort level during the summer months. For dogs with thick coats, thorough brushing can remove the heat-trapping undercoat and prevent mats and tangles from forming, and your dog will love you for it.
However, as tempting as it can be to shave a dog’s thick coat when it’s warm, shaving a dog can result in painful and dangerous sunburns, as well as problems with overheating. Dogs can only relieve heat through their mouths and paws, meaning that their thick coat is necessary protection from the sun that regulates their internal temperatures.
5. Continue to Prevent Fleas, Ticks, and Other Parasites
Flea, tick, and parasite prevention should be year-round for most dogs, but the summer months pose an even great risk. Increased outdoor activity, as well as some parasite life cycles, makes fleas, ticks, and intestinal parasites a greater concern, not to mention the dangerous diseases that fleas and ticks can carry.
Plus, warm weather means mosquitoes, which are a major carrier of heartworms. As many dog owners know, heartworms can be fatal for dogs if left unchecked, but consistent prevention can remove this risk. If you would like more information about preventing heartworm and other pests, see your veterinarian for parasite screenings, and check out our care guides on heartworm disease and tick prevention.
6. Watch for Signs of Seasonal Allergies
Just like humans, some dogs suffer from seasonal allergies to pollen and mold. However, rather than sneezing and sniffling, dogs react to allergies by excessively scratching, which can lead to serious injury and infection if left for too long.
If you notice your dog scratching more than usual, ask your veterinarian about allergy tests to determine if an allergen is the culprit. They may be able to provide medication that can give your dog some much-needed relief.
7. Board Your Dog during Summer Vacation
As we’ve talked about before, boarding your dog while away on vacation is often a far healthier and safer solution than leaving your pet with friends and family. Any respectable boarding facility can offer your dog not only sufficient one-on-one attention, but also a safe environment where they will be well protected and cared for during your time away.
With a little extra knowledge and attention, it’s easy to make sure both you and your dog enjoy summer to the fullest. If you have any concerns about the well-being of your pets during these hot, summer months, feel free to contact us with any questions you might have. We also offer a wide-range of services, including bathing, grooming and boarding, to help keep your dog comfortable and healthy, no matter the temperature.