The warmest part of the Year is officially among us and as Summer approaches, we can be sure that we’re in for another scorcher. As we switch on the Air-conditioning, practice “Slip, Slop, Slap” and get ready for those balmy Summer afternoons, it is also important that we consider our four-legged friends as the weather warms up.
We share our top tips for keeping our dogs safe this Summer.
1. Avoid Walking On Hot Pavement
For some, a daily dog walk is part of the ritual but as Summer nears and the weather warms up, walking times will need to be re-evaluated. As we tie our laces and prepare for our walk it can be easy to forget that the ground is hot. The Summer sun can significantly increase the temperature of the pavement and although we are protected, there is nothing that stands in the way of delicate paws and sizzling cement. Before you walk, place the back of your hand against the ground and if it’s hot after 3 seconds do not walk your dog. Often you may notice we will train without shoes on, if we can’t walk on the ground ourselves we would not expect our dogs to walk on it either.
Remember, if it’s too hot for you, it’s too hot for them. They will be better off resting for the day than risk burning their pads so be mindful of the time of day and always check the temperature of the ground.
2. Choose Exercise Times Wisely
Lucky as we are to live in beautiful Australia, we are also exposed to relentless sun and uncomfortably hot days. The further into Summer we go, the earlier in the day the barometer will rise so be mindful of the times you exercise your dog. In conjunction with hot pavement and the risk of burning feet, heat stress/exhaustion is also something that needs to be at the forefront before we take our dogs out for an adventure. Consider earlier start times or opt to exercise later in the evening.
For owners who have beautiful brachycephalic breeds such as pugs, shih tzus, and bulldogs, the risk of heat exhaustion is greater than others. Our squishy faced breeds can experience breathing difficulty at the best of times, and this can be exacerbated in warmer weather.
Many dogs will play, and play and PLAY without stopping. It is your responsibility as the owner to monitor play time and intervene when necessary to prevent dogs from experiencing heat stroke, which in severe cases can become fatal.
3. Provide Shade
Just like humans, dogs need to be in shade to avoid heat exhaustion, general discomfort and even sun burn. It is paramount that during the warmer months, our dogs have access to a shaded area to seek refuge from the harsh UV. While dogs can regulate their temperature, it is still very much vital that they have a place to cool down particularly if they are to be left outside while you are away from the house.
A great way to keep your pooch cool while outside is to allow access to a small body of water. A clam pool is a great alternative and will provide plenty of entertainment and a means to cool down.
4. Constant Access To Water
Hydration, hydration, hydration. As the weather warms up, the water bowl level goes down. Dogs may drink more water during Summer to stay hydrated and cool so being vigilant and ensuring they have plenty of access to water is paramount to their safety and comfort this Summer.
Always replenish the bowl with fresh water (pro tip: add ice cubes on especially hot days). There are also many portable options should you be taking your dog out and about. After a walk or play at the park, your dog will no doubt be thirsty. Keep water on hand if you plan on exercising your dog away from home.
For young puppies who are toilet training, be mindful that more water going in will mean more frequent toilet breaks may be necessary too.
5. Tick Prevention
As the temperature rises, so do cases of tick paralysis. Although these critters are out in force all year round, the risk becomes greater in warmer weather. Speak to your local Vet about the right preventative for your dog so that you can keep them safe from Ticks this Summer.
You should be comfortable doing a tick search on your dog daily as catching a tick early can mean a big difference to your dog’s chance of surviving a deadly paralysis tick. Know that ticks will travel some distance to attach to a suitable host and tick love warm, humid environments and thrive in areas like this.
6. Storms and Fireworks
The start of Summer brings some rainfall (fingers crossed) and along with it, some intense Summer thunderstorms. While we Australians love nothing more than a fabulous Summer storm, it can be a stressful time for our four-legged friends, particularly if they have Storm Phobia. Storm Phobia is especially common and something that our Trainers frequently see.
It is important that (as exciting as it may be) you remain calm and composed during storms. Your dog will look to you for guidance so ensure a consistent energy in the house as it was prior to the storm. For more on how to keep your dog safe during storms, head to our blog on preventing Storm Phobia.
Summer is also the beginning of our festive season! Parties, Christmas and New Years Eve are just around the corner and with it, comes a series of celebratory Fireworks. Ensure you keep your dog safe and secure during these times and provide a safe space like a crate to help ease their nerves and prevent future issues.
7. Stay Alert At The Dog Beach
As the barometer rises, so does our need to hit the sand and spend a day at the beach. Here in Queensland, beach days are a way of life and bringing along our dog has also become the norm. With more and more people racing to the waters edge this Summer, you will need to be especially careful.
More people = more dogs
More dogs = uncertainty
Places where dogs are permitted to be off leash can expose our dog and ourselves to unpredictable and at times unfortunate situations. While we may have every confidence in our own abilities and dog, we cannot assume that everyone on the dog beach has the same level of trust and control. Be mindful of your surroundings and ensure you are selective with who you allow your dog to socialise with.
You also need to keep in mind that your canine companion can suffer from beach risks just as much as us humans. Rips, snakes on the beach, sea lice, jelly fish, sharks, sea urchins and cuts from oysters are potentially risky for our dogs too. You are your dogs advocate make sure to keep them safe when you are having fun.
Be careful if your dog is the kind that is inclined to drink sea water. Saltwater can cause diarrhoea and in some severe cases dehydration which can be life threatening. Heat stroke is seen often at vet clinics with dogs that have over heated running around too much at the beach on a hot day and add drinking saltwater and dehydration your dog may end up in hospital after a fun day at the beach.
8. Pool Safety: Fence the Pool, Shut the Gate
Bring on the pool days! We can guarantee that if you have a pool at home, it will be sure to get a workout this Summer. With family members coming and going from the pool area it is important that everyone is aware of the family dog and to ensure the fence is always secure when you are not available to supervise.
There are certain breeds who are not able to swim well so keeping the gate secure during pool comings and goings is paramount to their safety.
With new puppies who may be able to squeeze into the pool area, ensure extra measures are taken so they cannot access the pool. It can also be wise to get your dog in the pool and show them where the steps are. Should they fall in while you’re not there, it’s comforting to know that they can get out on their own.
Dogs with deep chests can struggle to swim more than others. You will know if your dog is a poor swimmer as their rear ends will sink and they will paddle mostly with their front feet splashing around a lot. Whilst this may be funny to watch you will need to keep in mind that your dog can tire very quickly swimming like this. Life vest can be purchased for dogs that can help them learn to swim better. A good strong swimmer will swim with their entire back along the water, using all four paws to paddle and their tail (if they have one) as a rudder.
9. Protect the Snoots
Slip, slop, slap. While most dogs have a coat thick enough to protect them from the elements and sun damage, certain breeds may need a little extra care this Summer. For breeds with a thin coat, white/light pink pigments and exposed skin, apply zinc to protect them against burn, particularly on their noses. Be careful of the sunscreen you use and if your dog is licking a lot of it as some sunscreens can make dogs sick when they eat/lick too much.
10. Car Trips
Too often we hear of awful circumstances where a dog has been left in a car causing heat stroke or worse. Even with a cracked window, your dog can still be at risk of heat stress. If you intend on calling into the shops on your travels, leave your dog at home.
Even a quick pit stop can have fatal consequences and is not worth the risk. Do not leave dogs in cars ever! If you are concerned about a pet you have seen locked in a car, call the police immediately, time is often of the essence.
Keep your dogs safe this Summer, folks! For more information, speak to our Trainers.