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Key Points
  • Some dogs can get sunburned, and they need to be protected.
  • Dogs may love the beach, but hot sand can blister and burn their paws.
  • Don’t share your barbecued rib bones with your canine pal – cooked bones cause serious injuries.

Now that warmer weather is here, it’s extremely important for dog owners to take certain precautions when it comes to their pup’s health. To ensure that you and your canine companion have an enjoyable summer, we’ve compiled a list of cautions to keep in mind this season, so that your furry BFF stays safe.

Car Travel

If you’re planning any road trips this summer, your dog may be included in your vacation plans. Please keep in mind that every year, dogs die from being left alone in hot vehicles. “A car’s temperature increases about one degree a minute and can reach life-threatening highs quickly, even with the windows open,” says Sally Morgan, a holistic physical therapist for pets and people. Bottom line is, you should NEVER leave a dog alone in the car.

Heat Stroke

Any dog can suffer from heat stroke. AKC Chief Veterinary Officer Dr. Jerry Klein warns that it is more of a risk for brachycephalic breeds that have a short nose and flat face, such as Pugs, Boxers, and Bulldogs, who aren’t able to cool themselves as efficiently as other breeds because of airway restrictions. Dogs that have had heat stroke previously, dogs that are obese, and dogs with dark coats are also at higher risk for heat stroke.

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In some areas, summer brings high humidity along with soaring temperatures. Humidity can increase the risk for heat stroke; when it’s humid outside, a dog’s temperature rises. “A dog cools off by panting, which causes evaporation of saliva,” says Dr. Ann Hohenhaus, a staff doctor at New York City’s Animal Medical Center. “If the environmental air is full of water, saliva can’t evaporate and cool dogs when they’re panting.”

Familiarize yourself with the signs of heat stroke, and call your veterinarian immediately if you notice any of these symptoms.

Sunburn

You may not realize that dogs can get sunburned. Canines that are hairless, white, or a light color are more sensitive to sun exposure and at risk for sunburn and sun-induced tumors. Talk to your veterinarian about the best ways to avoid this, and consider using a sunscreen made specifically for your dog.

Hot Surfaces

If the pavement feels hot when you touch it with your hand, imagine what it feels like on your dog’s paws. If you can’t walk on the ground barefooted, neither should your dog. It takes time to acclimate a dog’s pads to certain ground surfaces, especially when those surfaces are warm or hot. This includes hot sidewalks, streets, and sandy beaches. Blisters and cuts are commonly seen on dogs whose owners did not consider or pay attention to the bottom of their feet.

Lagotto Romagnolo standing by a pond.

Flea and Tick Care

Your dog should be on a flea-and-tick preventive to reduce the risk that he’ll contract tick-borne infections such as Lyme disease. Along with oral pills, topical treatments, and flea-and-tick collars, there are pet-friendly sprays for additional protection. Speak to your veterinarian to find the best, most appropriate treatment for your dog.

Hot Spots

Hot, humid weather along with flea allergies or reactions to other insect bites can cause a hot spot on a dog that is scratching those bites. The hot spot is a large, painful area of inflammation that can be difficult to manage. The best way to prevent additional hot spots from occurring is to identify and address the underlying cause of your dog’s itching. Good parasite prevention, treatment of skin infections, and management of allergies will help prevent hot spots in the first place. If your dog develops a hot spot, take him to see your veterinarian.

Open Windows

With warmer weather comes the need to open windows and balcony doors. Doing so can lead to your dog falling, slipping, or jumping out the window in what Dr. Hohenhaus refers to as “high-rise syndrome.” Make sure your pet doesn’t have access to any open windows or doors. Summer deck parties can also prove hazardous, so it’s important that someone is always monitoring your dog.

Heartworm

Since heartworm is transmitted to dogs from mosquitos, warm weather season is the most dangerous time for contacting this parasite. For your dog, heartworms cause inflammation and damage the heart, arteries, and lungs – and can be fatal if left untreated. It’s best to talk with your veterinarian about heartworm prevention. All dogs should be tested for heartworm annually, even those on heartworm prevention medication year-round.

BBQ

With their keen sense of smell, dogs find the scents at a barbecue or cookout very enticing, but the food served can be dangerous to their health. Never give your dog a cooked bone, because the bone can splinter when chewed, causing choking and serious injury to your dog.

Denise Fleck, an author and animal care instructor, advises against sharing food with your dog. “Dogs don’t metabolize food like we do and can end up with severe inflammation,” she says. Foods like corn on the cob and any sort of fruit pit or watermelon seeds can be extremely problematic if swallowed. They can get stuck in the intestine, and, according to Dr. Hohenhaus, are not easily detected on an X-ray.

Plants

We all want to make our outdoor areas look nice, but certain plants and lawn-care products can be toxic to dogs. Avoid the potential risk of your canine companion eating something he shouldn’t by planting a dog-friendly garden. If you had a garden before you got your dog, it’s best to survey your yard and identify any plants that may be dangerous. Then restrict your dog’s access to them.

Swimming Pools

Contrary to popular belief, not all dogs can swim. If you plan on taking your dog in the pool, make sure he knows how to swim and how to get out. Pools that do not have some form of stairs are the most dangerous for dogs. If you do have a pool, it should be fenced to protect your pup from wandering in. He should never be allowed in the pool unsupervised. It’s a good idea to have a dog life jacket on hand, especially if you frequent the beach or like to go boating.

Fourth of July

While you may enjoy the fun and festivities that come with Fourth of July celebrations, your dog might feel just the opposite. The loud noises and sudden flashes of fireworks are frightening and can disorient or startle a dog. Dr. Hohenhaus recommends taking precautions ahead of time to keep your dog safely inside and under control on a leash when you take him outside.

Related article: How Changes in Weather Can Affect Your Dogs Mood
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