Summer is the best time of the year to play and explore with your dog! With so many celebrations, destinations, and outings, you and your dog can make tons of incredible memories together.
But as the sweltering weather sets in and you head to the beach or pool, it’s important to keep your pup’s unique needs in mind. Without the proper precautions and lifestyle changes, the dog days of summer can take a toll on your pup’s health and happiness. Read on to discover our top six tips to keep your dog safe and happy in the summer.
Water, Water, Water
Let’s start with the basics. This one may seem obvious, but even humans can forget to consume enough water and find themselves dehydrated in the summer months! Whether playing by your no-dig dog fence or hitting the beach, it’s important to ensure that your pup dodges dehydration and drinks plenty of cold water wherever your summer adventures take you.
When you’re out exploring, bring a portable or collapsible bowl or squirt bottle with plenty of water, and allow your dog to drink every 15 to 20 minutes while active. Just like us, dogs can sometimes forget to hydrate while having fun, so ensure you lead them to shade and water often! For extra cooling power, sprinkle cold water on your dog’s head and coat to help lower its body temperature. You can also give your dog hydrating treats like seedless watermelons to keep it cool and hydrated.
Rethink Your Routine
One of the most effective ways to prevent dangerous heatstroke in summer is to avoid the midday heat. If you have a daily exercise routine with your pup, you may need to adjust it during the summer. Try not to go outside during the hottest and sunniest hours of the day. The best time for outdoor exercise is typically early morning and later in the evening as temperatures are cooler and the sun is lower in the sky.
On hot days, avoid strenuously exercising your dog. A dog activity monitor can help you ensure your pup is not getting too much exercise, which can lead to overheating and exhaustion. No matter what time of day you’re outside, make sure your dog has a shady, cooler spot to retreat to, and consistent access to cool water. And during extremely hot days, consider indoor playtime options to keep your dog safe.
Practice Safe Swimming
Swimming is a super fun summer activity for you and your pup to enjoy together. Plus, it’s a great way to keep cool! A wet dog is a cool dog, whether at the beach, pool, lake, or river. But before you take your pup out for a doggy paddle, you must take the necessary precautions to keep it safe.
First, remember that not all pups are natural-born swimmers. Therefore, introduce your dog to water slowly and safely. Choose a shallow spot at the water's edge, and keep it on a leash while learning to swim. Use the tips below to enjoy a positive and stress-free swimming experience every time:
- At the beach ⏤ Watch out for strong currents and riptides, discourage your pup from drinking seawater, and always bring fresh water with you to keep it hydrated.
- At the pool ⏤ Check the water temperature before your dog starts swimming; only a few breeds can handle ice-cold water. Teach your dog to get in and out safely with steps or a ramp, and always keep a sturdy cover over your pool when it is not in use.
- In a river, lake, or pond ⏤ Steer clear of any water with blue-green algae, which can harm your dog. Always check the current to make sure it isn’t too strong, and keep your furry friend away from fishing gear that can hurt it.
No matter where you choose to swim, having your pup wear a doggy life jacket is a great way to keep it safe. Make sure your dog’s life jacket fits correctly, and opt for a bright color to make it easy to spot.
Know the Signs of Heat Stroke
Heatstroke is a serious and potentially life-threatening condition for dogs. While dogs can't communicate with us in words, many physical signs can tell us how they’re feeling. Following the tips we’ve listed here is a great way to avoid heat stroke. But it remains important to understand your pet’s behaviors, know what signs to look for, and keep a close eye on your dog to catch any warning signs quickly. Watch out for these signs of overheating:
- Excessive panting and/or salivating
- Obvious discomfort
- Vomiting and diarrhea
- Abnormal gum color
- Disorientation or abnormal behavior
When your pup shows any sign of heat stroke, immediately stop the activity and move them to a cool place, provide cold water, and place a damp towel over their body. If their symptoms don’t improve, take them to your vet immediately.
Protect Your Pup From Pests
Pests like ticks and fleas are far more common in the hot summer months. If your dog is medically protected against dangerous diseases like Lyme disease and certain fevers, pests generally do not pose a serious threat to your dog’s health. However, dealing with ticks or fleas can still be uncomfortable and stressful for your pup. The best way to avoid pests is to take the proper physical and medical precautions throughout the summer.
- Ticks can attach to your dog while walking through grassy or wooded areas, so avoiding tall grass and heavily wooded places is very helpful. Keep grass short in your backyard to encourage a tick-free space.
- Ticks usually don’t transmit diseases until 24-48 hours after attachment, so checking your dog’s skin right after spending time outside is a great way to avoid any serious diseases.
- If you do find a tick, immediately remove it by following the correct steps, or head to your vet for extra help.
- Ask your vet about oral flea and tick prevention for dogs.
Fending off Fleas
- Fleas are a bigger problem in warm weather between 65-80 degrees. They usually spread from contact with other animals and jump from host to host.
- To check your dog for fleas, look in heavily fur-covered areas of its body. Flea symptoms in dogs include excessive itching and “flea dirt” (flea feces) on the skin.
- For proper flea treatment and prevention for your dog, consult with your veterinarian.
Cater to Your Dog’s Unique Breed Needs
There are so many unique dog breeds, and it's likely that your dog’s breed affects the way you exercise, feed, and groom it. When summertime sets in, your dog’s breed can also affect its unique needs during hotter weather.
The Muzzle Puzzle
The shape of your dog’s muzzle plays a part in determining how it is affected by summer heat. Breeds with shorter noses and flattened faces, such as Pugs, Boxers, and Shih Tzus, can have a harder time breathing during physical exercise — especially in the summer. Their smaller airways make it more difficult for them to cool themselves down and give them a lessened ability to pant, a behavior that helps control body temperature.
It’s no secret that extra furry dogs have a harder time keeping cool in the summer. But did you know that a specific type of coat called a double coat can make cooling down even harder?
Many popular breeds, including Siberian Huskies, Australian Shepherds, and Bernese Mountain Dogs, have double coats — a dense undercoat of wooly hairs beneath a protective layer of longer hair on top. While this double coat does help protect them from extreme temperatures, they can still be more susceptible to heat-related health issues than other breeds. With this being said, it’s important to remember never to cut these breeds’ fur short! This can damage the double coat and make temperature regulation even harder.
Stay Safe, Healthy, and Cool This Season
Equipped with these six helpful tips for keeping your dog safe and happy this summer, you’re ready to tackle the heat and have the best season ever with your pup! No matter what summer activity you enjoy with your furry friend, always take the proper precautions, and put your pet’s safety first. Happy summer!