10 Summer Tips

June 28, 2011  

Follow these tips to keep your dog safe and healthy all summer long

By Liz Stelow, D.V.M.

(Photos by Melissa Lipani)

1. Stay hydrated. In combination, heat and exercise lead to rapid dehydration. Make sure your dog has cool, fresh water available whenever he wants it. Carry it on hikes, to the beach and in the car. Keep his indoor and outdoor bowls filled at home. Dehydration can be life-threatening but is quite avoidable!

2. Don’t leave your dog in the car during the day. We all know that closed cars get hot in the summer sun. In addition, there are countless reasons why you shouldn’t just leave the windows rolled down for ventilation or the engine running with the air conditioning on. So, it’s best to avoid leaving the dog in the car between dawn and dusk.

3. Watch your dog near bodies of water. Even if your dog is a great swimmer or is always wearing a life vest, accidents can happen. Drowning occurs quickly and is often not the turbulent event we all imagine. And, if you’re not a good swimmer, your dog should not be allowed in the water at all!

4. Know your water-borne diseases. Drowning is not the only threat that water poses for dogs. Leptospira, Giardia, Cryptosporidium, E. coli and other infectious agents can be found in various types of standing or flowing water. External ear infections also can result from swimming; so consider a drying agent if your dog loves to swim. If your dog becomes ill after water play, be sure to tell your vet where you swam.

5. Avoid feeding your dog people food. Warm weather brings people together, often to eat. If your dog is a real chow hound, watch his food intake at these events. Human foods, like ribs and cheeseburgers, are far too rich for dogs and can lead to pancreatitis. And the bones in your fried chicken are choking hazards. A “no human food” policy is safest.
StubbyDog: News & Views - Summer Safety Tips for dogs
6. Manage thunderstorm and fireworks phobias. If your dog experienced fears during last summer’s booming storms or pyrotechnic celebrations, be prepared for this year. Phobias can worsen over time, especially if they aren’t treated effectively. Talk to your vet now about appropriate medications so that you can keep your dog as calm as possible during these events.

7. Plan ahead so you can travel safely. Traveling with your dog can be rewarding; but there are some risks:

• Dogs can be uncomfortable in strange environments, with strange people, often in crowds; and bad behavior can occur. Know your dog’s limitations and respect his need to make a quick retreat for quiet time.

• Dogs are not welcome everywhere. Make sure that every place you plan to take your dog is pet-friendly and safe for dogs.

• There is always a risk your dog could be separated from you during travel. Be sure to have adequate ID in the form of tags, tattoos or microchips. And keep your dog on leash except in confined spaces.

Make sure that all vaccines are up to date, especially if you are likely to encounter other dogs or are counting on using boarding or grooming facilities on the road.

8. Beware of foxtails. If your dog is lucky enough to live in (or visit) California during the summer, foxtails are among the biggest threats. These barbed grass seeds get caught in ear canals, in nostrils, in tonsils, in hair coats, between toes and in eyelids. If not removed immediately, sometimes requiring sedation by a vet, they can migrate through surrounding tissue, leaving trauma and infection in their wake. California owners should check your dog daily for foxtails and have eyes/ears/nostrils examined immediately if you think your dog has one stuck in one of these hard-to-reach places.

9. Check for ticks. This is feeding season for all those hungry ticks – and your dog is as good a meal as any. Although ticks can spread many diseases, they must be attached 24 – 48 hours to do so. So, check after every outdoor excursion for even the smallest stowaway tick.

10. Consider sunscreen. If your dog is partly (or mostly) white, consider a kid’s non-absorbable sunscreen for prolonged sun exposure. Good choices are Badger and Blue Lizard. Watch to make sure your dog doesn’t promptly lick it all off, as ingestion is not ideal. Better yet, keep dogs with short white hair out of the sun as much as possible.


Liz Stelow is a veterinarian living in Davis, California. She is also a busy mom and the author of a pet health blog at PetDoctorMom.com.

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2 Responses to “10 Summer Tips”
  1. Wonderful list. My parents just moved to eastern Washington state with my dog, and we’ve had to change some of our summer rules every time we moved (first California, then Illinois, then Washington!). He seems to be happy no matter where he is outdoors, but we’re always careful either way. 🙂

  2. StubbyDog says:

    @annedreshfield Thanks Anne, we’re so glad you find it helpful.