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With more pets and people enjoying warm weather activities, the American Kennel Club advises responsible dog owners to take special care of their dogs during the summer months.

According to a recent AKC online poll of more than 1,000 dog owners, 90 percent said their pet influences their weekend/free time activities and 76 percent said their pet influences their vacation destination. Whether spending time in the backyard or traveling across the country, dog owners should be follow these summer safety tips:

  • If kept outside, make sure your pet has plenty of shade, but remember that doghouses are not good shelter during the summer as they can trap heat.

  • Make sure your dog has access to plenty of cool, fresh water 24 hours a day.

  • Never leave your dog in a closed vehicle on a warm day. The temperature inside a car can rise to over 100 degrees in a matter of minutes.

  • Avoid strenuous exercise on extremely hot days. Take walks in the early mornings or evenings, when the sun's heat is less intense.

  • Make sure your dog's vaccinations are up to date. Dogs tend to stay outdoors longer and come into contact with other animals more during the summer months.

  • Keep dogs off lawns that have been chemically treated or fertilized for 24 hours (or according to package instructions), and away from potentially toxic plants and flowers.

  • Fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes which carry heartworm disease are more prevalent in warmer months. Ask your veterinarian for an effective preventive to keep these parasites off your dog

  • Many dogs like swimming, but some cannot swim or may not like the water. Be conscious of your dog's preferences and skills before trying to make him swim.

  • Many airlines will not ship animals during summer months due to dangers caused by hot weather. Some will only allow dogs to fly in the early morning or in the evening. Check with your airlines for specific rules. Shipping policies can be found here.

  • If traveling by car, keep your dog cool in the car by putting icepacks in his crate. Make sure the crate is well ventilated.