For a fun, safe and healthy summer, our friends at David Cuffe & Associates have six tips to ensure your dog enjoys every bit of fun in the sun.
How to Keep your Dog Cool in the Summer
Tip 1: Refreshing Treats
Give your pooch a refreshing, fun treat to stay cool and entertained during the warmer months. Swap out traditional treats with an ice cube or freeze your dog’s toys, such as a kong with ice in the middle - dogs have lots of fun playing with these!
Tip 2: A Refreshing Swim
If your dog is a fan of water, swimming is a great way to safely exercise your dog in the heat, but be aware that some spots are safer than others, so always check before allowing your dog to dive in. If on the beach, be sure to take heed of any signs alerting you to strong tides.
If your dog prefers a city swim, have a quick look off the banks before throwing a stick or toy, as we sometimes see dogs with cut paws from broken glass that was sitting just under the water by the water’s edge.
For hounds who are keen on the water but may not be the world’s strongest swimmers, there are a variety of doggy life jackets available to try. These are a fantastic safety device, enabling them to swim safely to their heart’s content.
Tip 3: Watch out for the Heat
Heat stroke is a real risk for dogs. Unlike humans, dogs do not sweat (apart from a tiny amount from their paw pads) and rely on panting as part of their cooling process, exchanging the warmer air from within their bodies for the cooler air outside. Unfortunately, if the air temperature gets too warm, then this can affect the cooling process, resulting in heat stroke. There are many things you can do to avoid the occurrence:
- Never leave a dog in an immobile car during hot weather.
- Avoid exercise during the hottest parts of the day and instead confine this to morning and evening sessions. This is especially important for the brachycephalic (‘flat-faced’) breeds such as Bulldogs, Pugs or Pekingese because their cooling mechanisms do not work as effectively as long-nosed breeds and they are more likely to suffer from heat stroke.
- Always provide shade and fresh, cool water in hot weather - I like to make sure I always have a portable drinking bowl and bottled water in my bag or car when taking my dog on an adventure when it’s hot.
- Never confine a dog to concrete or asphalt surface over the summer.
- Heat stroke is an emergency and should be treated as such, so any dogs suffering should be taken immediately to a vet for emergency treatment. Symptoms can include difficulty breathing/heavy panting, bright red gums and tongue, vomiting and/or thick, viscous saliva.
Preventing Dog Parasites and other Pesky Problems
Tip 4: Prevent Little Critters
Flea and tick prevention is important year round, but during the summer months these parasites undergo something of a population explosion. There are many products which help prevent tick or flea infestation, from spot-on prescription treatments to collars. It is particularly important to ensure that your pooch is up to date with treatment - prevention is better than cure! Ticks tend to congregate more commonly in certain parts of the country, so it is advisable to find out before travelling if they are resident in your holiday or day trip destination.
If your puppy pal does pick up a tick, they can be removed relatively easily by a vet or yourself if you have been shown how to by a veterinary professional and are in possession of the tools. It is very important to ensure ticks are removed fully, including the entire head. It is always better to be safe than sorry and consult your vet if you are not sure how to do it yourself.
Tip 5: Protect Against Lungworm
This is another parasite that you need to be particularly vigilant in providing protection against. Lungworm is carried by slugs and snails and can be dangerous if an infestation occurs. As these slimy garden invaders are more common over summer, our advice is to always keep your dog up to date with a licensed veterinary lungworm prevention program and to remove any snails or slugs you happen to see in your garden (wear gloves!). If you notice your dog eating a slug or snail, don’t panic, but do give your vet a call and ask for their advice.
Tip 6: Treat Grass Seeds
This pesky seed commonly causes problems for dogs during the summer months. As the plants mature, barbed seeds sit at the top of certain types of grasses, the most common being ‘barley grass’. These seeds can easily get caught in long ears, on coats and between toes. These nasty seeds have a sharp tip which can easily penetrate soft skin and work their way in, resulting in a painful fissure. We spend many an operating session during the summer months searching for and removing grass seeds from poor doggies’ toes and ears. It is a good idea to always check your dog’s ears, around their face and between their toes after a walk so that you can pluck any grass seeds from the coat before they manage to work their way under the skin. It’s also helpful to keep the hair trimmed shorter in problem areas.
Put these tips into action and let us know if it helped your dog, owned or borrowed.
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