Spending time with our dogs in the summer brings a lot of joy, and including them on outside outings is part of what makes a dog an important part of spending time in nature. The following tips can help ensure the safety of every pet.
Temperature and water access are most crucial. Dogs can get overheated easily in warmer conditions, especially in a closed car, which can heat up to more than 130 degrees even with a small cracked window. If it is necessary to leave a dog in the car for a few minutes only, make sure to park in the shade and leave windows open enough to cross ventilate. If it needs to be for more than few minutes, make other arrangements to avoid putting pets at risk. Also, have plenty of access to clean water so pets can stay hydrated. Sun exposure can also be too much for pets. A little bit of sun is fine for animals, but to be left out without ability to get into shade can be harmful.
Ticks, fleas and mosquitos carry diseases and are very annoying. Choose more natural repellants that are safer for pets, people and the environment. For humans, wearing more clothing can be hotter but gives protection. Always check pets after exposure to the outdoors, pushing their hair through your fingers and trying to see if there are any ticks attached.
Topical chemical spot-on and ingested flea and tick products are not healthy. These products can harm the animal’s microbiome and be toxic. Natural and herbal sprays can work as well. Look for raw amber collars, repellant flower essences, herbal sprays, cedar wood oils and neem powders. Mosquitos carry heartworm and other diseases, while fleas can infect the home and can carry diseases.
Water sports can be enjoyed with dogs, but make sure they can swim. Life jackets for pets are available, and provide safety for a day on the lake or ocean. If the dog is a great swimmer it may not be needed.
Longer days allow for more hours to be outside walking our dogs. Be sure to have good leashes and a secure way to walk one’s dog near streets.
Fireworks and thunderstorms can cause stress. Keep pets inside and protect them from the sounds as much as possible. This can be done by closing all doors and windows, keeping them in the quietest room in the house, and frequently checking- in with them, speaking to them in a re-assuring voice.
By following this advice, pet owners and their dogs can enjoy safer summer months together.
Dr. Margo Roman, DVM, CVA, COT, CPT, FAAO, is a veterinarian at MASH Vet (Main St. Animal Services of Hopkinton). She has practiced integrative and functional veterinary medicine for almost 40 years. For more information, visit MASHVet.com.