Are you excited by the arrival of sunshine and warmer temperatures? If so, you’re not alone! The summer months are seen by many as the most fun months of the year bringing us beach days, summer festivals, family vacations, and other activities that put a smile on our faces.
However, this time of year can also spell trouble for your dog if you’re not prepared! Today, we’re going to look at some must-know summer safety tips for dogs including the 4 most common hazards at this time of year to help you keep your dog safe.
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Dogs in Hot Cars
Unfortunately, this first hazard is one that is far too common when discussing the risks associated with dogs and hot weather. If you are just making a quick trip to your local grocery store, it may be tempting to bring your dog along for the trip, especially if they are a fan of car rides. You may be just running in ‘for a minute’ and even planning to leave the window cracked open for a little extra airflow. However, leaving your dog in a parked vehicle during the hot summer months can have serious or fatal consequences.
Contrary to popular belief, cracking your window does not provide the necessary airflow to lower the temperature within a parked vehicle. Instead, the vehicle continues to act like an oven with temperatures quickly climbing higher.
On an 85 degree Fahrenheit day, the temperatures in your vehicle will reach, on average, 119 degrees Fahrenheit in just 30 minutes. Unlike humans, dogs don’t cool down by sweating. Instead, they mainly rely on panting to dispel heat. As the temperatures in the vehicle continue to rise, their ongoing panting adds to the humidity which makes their panting increasingly less efficient.
A dog left in a hot car may start showing signs of heatstroke as early as 15 minutes into their struggle. For dogs that are older and young puppies, this time can be even shorter. Early signs of heatstroke include excessive panting, drooling, disorientation, vomiting, and loss of consciousness. If left untreated, it can then lead to serious complications such as intestinal bleeding, swelling of the brain, organ failure, and loss of life.
If you do come across a dog trapped in a hot vehicle, you should be prepared to act appropriately. Pay attention to local laws and restrictions and contact the proper authorities if the owner of the car cannot be located in a reasonable time. Be careful to cool dogs down slowly so as to avoid shocking the body.
Dogs On Hot Pavement
Another hot weather risk that is often overlooked is the damage that hot asphalt can do when walking on a summer day. Like the temperature within a vehicle, asphalt temperatures rise far above that of the surrounding air. Asphalt, pavement, and artificial grass can absorb and retain heat, quickly reaching the point that it can cause serious burns and blisters on your dog’s paw pads.
If you own a pair of summer-friendly dog booties, they are a great option for paw protection when walking dogs in hot weather. If not, consider scheduling your walks during a cooler time of the day, such as the early morning or late evening.
Before heading out, regardless of the time of day, take a moment to test the temperature of the surface that you will be walking on. This is one of the easiest to follow summer pet safety tips, and yet one that isn’t used often enough. You can do this by placing the back of your hand against the pavement or asphalt for a total of seven seconds. If it’s too hot for you, it’s also too hot for your dog!
Dogs On Hiking trails
Hiking trails offer a great opportunity to get out and enjoy the beautiful summer weather. However, there are important safety considerations that should be factored into your outdoor adventures. First, on the hottest days of summer, you should try to plan your hikes during cooler times. Exercise, extreme heat, and dogs is not a combination that you want to play around with! This includes getting up to hike first thing in the morning or holding off until the temperature is dropping in the evening.
When packing for your hike, make sure to pack a pet-friendly first aid kit. While we would like to believe that nothing bad is going to happen, it is always better to be prepared! Knowing basic first aid is an important safety tip year-round and should not be restricted to conversations about summer safety tips for dogs. If possible, enroll in a pet first aid course in your area.
Additionally, you want to pack plenty of water for both you and your dog. We should be encouraging our dogs to drink more water during these hotter months anyway, but even more so when we’re out engaging in physical activity. If you have a larger dog that wears its own hiking pack, you can always enlist help in carrying water bottles.
Always pay careful attention to the surfaces that you are hiking on for two key reasons. First, similar to asphalt, rocky surfaces and sandy surfaces can both heat up significantly due to the summer sun. Second, you want to watch for sharp or uneven surfaces that could cut or harm your dog’s paws. Both concerns can be addressed by outfitting your dog with a pair of hiking-friendly dog booties.
Don’t forget to double-check your dog’s identification before heading out to ensure that all your contact information is up to date. This includes checking their microchip information. Whether you have moved or simply changed your phone number, outdated information could lower your chances of getting your dog home quickly if you were to get separated for any reason.
Dogs on Boat Docks
In addition to pet heat safety at this time of year, we should also keep water safety in mind. This covers the span of water-related activities from canoeing and kayaking right up to a day on a large yacht.
The first concern is similar to the risks mentioned above. If your dog is walking along the docks with you, be cautious of the temperatures of both the wooden deck itself as well as any metal connectors or hardware. Much like asphalt and pavement, these surfaces can heat up enough to cause burns and painful heat blisters on your dog’s paw pads.
Another important point that needs to be included on our list of summer safety tips for dogs that is often overlooked is the importance of being cautious around the water itself. There are laws and regulations in place requiring that any boat, big or small, includes the necessary emergency floatation devices to protect all on board in the event of an emergency. This includes life rafts and, of course, life jackets. If life jackets are such an important factor in our safety, why would we not consider taking the same measures for our dogs?
While many dogs are strong swimmers, there are situations that can arise in which a dog will need the assistance of a life jacket. Even the best swimmers can only keep up for so long before they will start to feel tired from the effort. If you were to run into problems while away from shore, the distance may be too far for your dog to travel before running into difficulty keeping up.
There are also other factors that can come into play during an accident or emergency that can impact your dog’s ability to continue swimming. If your dog were to hit its head while falling into the water, it could be knocked unconscious. Additionally, you may find yourself faced with an unexpected medical emergency that prevents your dog from being able to fully function at the moment. In these situations, the use of a life jacket could potentially save their life.
Do you enjoy spending time outdoors with your dog during the summer months? If so, we invite you to share some of your summer safety tips for dogs in the comment section below to help other pet owners!