June is #NationalPetPreparedness Month, and it’s perfectly timed! Summer is here, and the beautiful weather brings about so many fun things to do with pets that you can’t do in the winters. But all that fun can easily turn into fear and anxiety because of an unexpected emergency.
Here are a few tips to help you and your dog have safe, summer fun!
When it comes to heat, the #1 concern is preventing heatstroke. Our dogs can’t talk, so we need to watch for the signs and take action as soon as we can.
- Know the symptoms of heatstroke in pets: The ASPCA lists the symptoms as “excessive panting or difficulty breathing, increased heart and respiratory rate, drooling, mild weakness, stupor or even collapse… seizures, bloody diarrhea and vomit along with an elevated body temperature of over 104 degrees”
- Take walks during the cooler times of day or during days when the temperature is moderate.
- Before going on walks on a hot day, feel the pavement or concrete. If the ground is too hot for your hand, it’s too hot for their paws. Either wait until it’s cooler outside, or have your dog wear booties to protect their delicate toe beans.
- When going on walks, always have access to cool water and lots of shade. If you’re feeling extra fancy, you can give them homemade pupsicles made from dog-safe ingredients! Pinterest has lots of recipe ideas.
- Don’t shave your long-haired pets! It feels counter-intuitive, but a dog’s coat helps them self-regulate their temperature in summer AND winter. Instead, brush them frequently to help them shed their winter coats and, if necessary, take them to a groomer for a trim and full undercoat removal.
- DO NOT leave them alone in a parked car! Not even “just for a second” as you run in to get one thing at the store. Cars quickly become very hot, even on moderate days, and quickly can lead to heatstroke. Animal activists have been saying this for years, but it still bears repeating - especially since some states have made this illegal!
Summer means summer vacations, which means going to new places and seeing new things! The American Veterinary Medical Association has a great list of 11 things you can do to make travel safer for you and your pets! Here are a few of the highlights from that list, but we highly recommend reading the entire list before vacationing.
- Make sure it’s appropriate to bring your pet with you on this trip! For example, if your pet HATES the car, maybe a road trip isn’t the best idea for them. If your destination is not super friendly to pets, consider leaving your furry baby with a sitter or boarding them.
- Have your pet chipped or collared with correct ID information BEFORE you go and keep a current picture of your pet with you. This way, if your furry sweetie gets lost, you’ll be able to make up posters and have the best chance of having them returned to you.
- Ensure your pet is safely restrained if you’ll be traveling in a vehicle! That could mean a harness, carrier, or specialized travel bed for pets. Ask your vet for size- and breed-appropriate recommendations.
- Stop frequently while driving and bring food, water, and any meds your pet needs for the trip and keep them in an easily accessible place.
- Swimming is a great way to exercise your dog while staying cool, but drowning is a risk (especially for small dogs or dogs that weren’t bred to be in the water). Here’s a few things you can do to mitigate that risk:
- Don’t leave your dog unsupervised by a pool, especially if they can’t swim. If you have an in-ground pool, you can invest in a pool alarm to let you know if something falls into your pool while you sunbathe.
- Don’t force your dog to swim if they’re scared of the pool! If they like being in water but have trouble staying afloat, consider using a doggy life jacket while they learn to swim.
- Goldens looooooove to swim - they were bred to retrieve ducks and other water animals, so they love being in the water and have a swimming instinct! But they will need a little bit of introduction to deep water, just like any other dog. Keep them in the shallows and only let them venture into deeper waters under your supervision.
- Summer also means you’ll be spending a lot more time with your pup in your garden and yard. But many plants, fertilizers, lawn treatments, and other yard products (like tiki torches, mosquito-repellent candles, etc.) can be toxic for pets. Before applying anything to your lawn or garden, make sure that it’s pet-safe first.
- Barbecues and grills and tasty food abound during summer! So be on the lookout for toxic foods in recipes. The most common offenders include onions, garlic, grapes, raisins, chocolate, and xylitol (a common sweetener). Here’s a full list of people foods to watch out for: https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control/people-foods-avoid-feeding-your-pets.
- In the US, Fourth of July means fireworks will be a common sight. But did you know that Fourth of July is the #1 day for dogs to go missing? So be prepared for the event!
- Don’t use fireworks around pets - not even poppers! Aside from the fact that most dogs hate loud noises, exposure can lead to burns and other nasty wounds. Fireworks also contain toxic materials that dogs shouldn’t ingest.
- If you’re going to be in a place where fireworks happen and there’s nothing that can be done, then make sure you have a safe, dark, cool place for your pup to hide away while the fireworks go off.
- Some products can help your dog’s anxiety around loud noises. If you get your vet’s approval, low-grade tranquilizers may be prescribed for pets who react especially strongly. Another option is the Happy Hoodie, a cloth hood that secures tightly around your pet’s head to reduce noise and “create a swaddling effect” that can calm a pet through anxiety-inducing situations. You can look into it more here: https://happyhoodie.com/shop.html (this is not a paid sponsorship - we’re just passing the word along!)
Have some safe summer fun in these warm months! With some proper precautions, you and your furbaby will be living it up all summer long.