With summertime comes more time spent outdoors and an increase in accidents and injuries. It's been estimated that ER visits jump by 25 to 30 percent during June, July and August. That's just for people. Pets also spend more time outdoors during summer months, and their accident/injury statistics can increase, too. Since dogs are often with their masters this time of year, it's important to keep them safe as well. Here is a list of dog summer safety tips to bear in mind each and every year that you're a pet owner. Remember, pets can't help themselves as readily as people, so it's up to you to keep them safe.
Cool Gel Mats for Dogs
Certain dog breeds heat up quicker than others and some overheat at the drop of a hat. This is especially true for brachycephalic dogs like Pugs, Boston Terriers, Pekingese, Boxers, Shih tzus and Bulldogs such as Frenchies. Because of their inability to cool themselves sufficiently, animals with brachecyphalic syndrome generally must live indoors and be protected from heat at all times.
If you travel a lot with one of these breeds in the summer, it is important to cool your vehicle down first and make sure your AC is in tip-top running order before transporting them anywhere. With that in mind, it's a good idea to purchase a cooling mat for dogs to lay on in the car. These mats are also handy for any breed if you live in areas with extreme temps like Arizona or Florida where brown outs can occur with some frequency during summer months. The mats are also available in wraps and vests for outdoor use.
Life Jackets for Dogs
While most dogs are generally good swimmers, under the right circumstances they can drown just as easily as people. That's why it's important to invest in a dog life jacket if you own a pool or take your pet with you on boating or swimming excursions. While larger breeds are able to get out of pools a lot easier, smaller breeds, older dogs and puppies might not have the strength or reach once they've fallen in.
As far as lakes, rivers and oceans, anything can happen and it pays to be prepared. There are some terrific life jackets for dogs currently available in a variety of sizes meeting a variety of criteria. If at all possible, have your dog on hand for a fitting before purchasing one. If it doesn't fit snugly, you run the risk of it slipping off during a rescue attempt and it's basically useless.
Sunscreen for Dogs
Believe it or not, dogs can burn in the sun just like humans. Dogs with light-colored fur and thin coats are at an increased risk for sunburn as compared to their darker, more thickly-coated counterparts. Due to this, it's a good idea to slather on a waterproof sunscreen formulated for babies or pets. When applying it, be sure to cover the tips of the dog’s ears and nose, its back, the base of its tail and even the skin around its mouth.
Paw Pads for Dogs
For some reason this particular area of summer safety for dogs is almost as overlooked as sunscreen. Pets can burn their pads when temperatures soar and pavement begins to sizzle. Anyone who has ever scorched the soles of their feet and had them blister knows how painful and unpleasant it is.
If you live somewhere hot, don't let your pets go through this. After witnessing a service dog in Phoenix hopping from paw to paw on a street corner while waiting to cross an intersection, it was an eye-opening education I have never forgotten. Take care of your pet's paws in extreme weather, hot or cold. Paw pads or booties for dogs can save them a lot of unnecessary discomfort and you a hefty vet bill.
Tracking Devices for Dogs
Pet tracking devices are a wise idea for animals that spend any real amount of time outdoors. They make wonderful supplements to embedded microchips due to the fact you can track them yourself without waiting for a call from shelters or the pound. For pet owners that take their dogs camping, hiking or to large pet-friendly events, consider investing in a pet tracking device like the Tagg GPS Plus Pet Tracker.
You never know when you could get separated from your pet. A lot of them run off during noisy celebrations that include fireworks, like Fourth of July. With a pet tracker collar and your cell phone you can have them home in no time.
There are also waterproof and impact-resistant LED beacons available through companies like Ruffwear that are designed to keep dogs visible in low-lighting conditions to help you find them in the dark.
Pet Swimming Pools
Keeping a kiddie swimming pool for dogs on hand in the summertime is perfect for pets that spend their days in the backyard while you're at work. Make sure the pool is hard plastic or resin, so it doesn't pop or tear, and try and place it in a shady spot to keep the water temperature cooler. It might take a little coaxing at first, but you'll be surprised how quickly they'll take to these mini oases once they realize how much cooler they feel after a quick dip.
If your pets stay outside during the day, always make sure they have adequate drinking water, shade and a place to get out of the rain should the weather turn nasty.
Dog Summer Safety Tips
There are a lot of things you can do to help your pooch stay safe this summer in addition to the tips we've already provided. For instance, refrain from using muzzles or Halti harnesses during hot days when it's important that your dog is able to pant freely. The use of these could possibly inhibit that important function, which could lead to distress and eventually heat stroke.
This may seem like a no brainer, but always make sure your pet has access to water. Just like humans, staying hydrated is essential to their survival. You can offer them ice cubes, to entice them to engage in more fluids, or make dog pops with low-sodium chicken or beef broth.
Another good idea is to limit exercise on hot days and never leave your pet in a hot car with the windows cracked. Cracked windows are not sufficient for enough ventilation on a really hot day. Your pets are basically like small children, so use the same rule of thumb and common sense when it comes to their care as you would with humans.
You can read more detailed summer safety tips for your pets here.