The Dog Days of Summer

July 5, 2016

by Pamela Kleibrink Thompson, photos by Mark Dyrud

Summer is a terrific time to be a dog owner as you romp outdoors with your pet along the Greenbelt or hike in the foothills or swim in the river. But summer also brings unique risks to your dog’s health, so keep the following safety concerns in mind. Here are some tips to help dog owners keep their dogs healthy and safe.

THE HEAT IS ON

“The only way dogs have to thermoregulate their bodies is panting, which is air flow over the respiratory system,” says Eileen Fatcheric, D.V.M. (Doctor of Veterinary Medicine) of Syracuse, New York. Short-faced breeds such as pugs, boxers, and bulldogs have a high risk of overheating because they do not pant as efficiently as long-faced dogs. “These dogs are particularly at risk for heat stress because of the shape and design of the dog’s throat.”

Make sure your dog has a shady spot to rest on hot summer days. Doghouses can trap heat. A child’s wading pool filled with fresh water can help your dog cool off. Never leave your dog tied up without fresh drinking water within reach.Dog1

The temperature inside a car can rise to well over 100 degrees in a matter of minutes. Dr. Robert Ormond D.V.M., owner of  Mobile Pet Medical Care/Linder Pet Medical Care in Meridian, advises, “Keep your pets out of hot cars and always bring water for your furry companions when you go out and about with them.”

The American Kennel Club advises, “Avoid strenuous exercise on extremely hot days. Take walks in the early mornings or evenings, when the sun’s heat is less intense. Avoid prolonged exposure to hot asphalt or sand, which can burn your dog’s paws.”

BEWARE OF BUGS

“There are a few essential things that I recommend to all my clients in the summer months,” says Ormond. “When looking at preventative medicine, first on the list is to protect against the potential of outside parasites like fleas and ticks. These pests have been on the rise in our backyards and along the greenbelt for the last few years and it is a good idea to protect our pets  from them.”

WATER SAFETY

The American Kennel Club reminds, “Never leave your dog unattended in water.”

If you own a swimming pool, make sure your dog learns where the stairs or swimout is located. Ensure that pool covers are firmly in place; dogs can slip in under openings in the covers and drown.

Be careful of strong tides if swimming at the ocean, or strong currents in rivers. When boating, ensure that all passengers wear life jackets that fit snugly, including dogs.

FIREWORKS & FEAR

Ormond notes that the Fourth of July can be scary for some animals. “Don’t try to get your pet used to the fireworks by dragging them out to events with friends and making them sit and deal with the fireworks. Be sensitive to their needs. Keeping them in a bathroom or somewhere away from the noise and running a fan for white noise can help. Asking your doctor for medication that can help reduce and take away the anxiety associated with noise is a good option. Make sure your doctor stays away from the sedatives; these just make your pet sleepy. Inside their minds they are still experiencing fear; they just can’t react any more.”

INTO THE WOODS

Dr. Ormond also reminds dog owners to “make sure your pets are up to date on all vaccines to prevent potential infection from wild animals that share some of the same diseases as canines. When on trails be mindful that you will most likely run into others that may not be dog aware or friendly. Keep your dogs under control either with good training or a leash to make sure they don’t get into trouble with the local wildlife or other individuals on the trail.”Dog2

The most common problems dogs face in the summer include ear infections, skin infections, or allergy issues. “We are also seeing many more issues with ticks, fleas, and heartworm,” states Ormond. “Certainly we can see ligament injury and other injuries due to fast increases in activity.”

“Owners should be aware of what their dogs could be exposed to on the trails and in the woods,” notes Ormond. “Not only the bugs but things like snakes, skunks, raccoons, and many other animals. Also things like cheatgrass that can get caught in between toes or in ears; that is very bad to have to deal with. Start out slow and work into major physical activities; as with all of us coming out of winter, we need some time to adjust to our increased activity.”

Keep these tips in mind and you will enjoy a happy, healthy, and safe summer with your dog.