Top 10 Summer Tips For A Healthy & Happy Dog

It really is here... isn't it? Well its mid-June so that will have to do wink

The summer is great. Cue lots of outdoor living, long evenings and of course great walks with your dog. Unfortunately, also cue overheating, summer parasites and other warm weather dangers.

dog keeping cool in front of a fanSome things you may already be aware of, other things might need refreshing in your mind and some you may not have thought of, so we have put together a top 10 list of dog tips and dangers for the summer months. So grab a cool drink and have a quick read. It could save your dog's life.

1) Overheating & Heatstroke
You may think we don't get warm enough summers (not recently anyway) for this to be an issue but it is. It is a real danger and is therefore number one on our list. Dogs can really suffer in the heat. It’s not surprising when you consider they are unable to sweat and are also wearing fur coats. Phew. So keep your dogs cool. Keep walks to cooler times of the day, restrict strenuous activities and play less active games, invest in a floor fan for your dog, invent water games, make some cooling treats and book them in for a summer haircut. They will thank you for it. I am also a big fan of cooling dog coats and dog cooling mats. My dogs love theirs.

2) Dehydration
Water is so important at any time of the year but especially in warm weather. Make sure your dog has lots of fresh, clean drinking water always available. This includes at home, on walks and during outings. Do not let your dog drink stagnant water. If you are going out for the day or away for the weekend, take some water from home with you. Dogs prefer to drink what they are used to.

Learn the signs of heatstroke and dehydration and make sure you know what to do if your dog does overheat or become dehydrated so you can act promptly. Please see Dog Tips - Summer for more detailed information on heatstroke and dehydration.

3) Nasties, Poisons & Allergies
Summer is a prime time for your dog to catch or play host to all sorts of bugs, parasites and nasties. Think long grass, hot weather, stagnant water etc... Fleas and ticks are very active in the summer, as are mosquitoes and flies. From the diseases they carry to the irritation they can cause, wise up on what nasties are about in the warm weather (and in your area) and protect your pet. Like us, dogs can also suffer from summer allergies, so watch out for reactions. Grass seeds and stings can also be a summer bother.

4) Appetite & Activity
Don't worry if your dog seems a little off their food or slightly less active. Hot weather affects them much like it affects us. As long as they are drinking and other wise acting normally and seem healthy, all is well. If your dog seems a little grumpy, it could be the heat. We all feel tetchy when we are hot. Don't badger a bothered dog. Give them space... preferably in a cool, shady place.

5) Parked Cars & Conservatories
This is related to dehydration and heatstroke but is so very important it definitely deserves to be a separate point. Please NEVER leave your dog in a parked car or other enclosed area like a conservatory. This is of paramount importance. Don't try to judge the heat in the car. It can warm up much faster than you think, even in only mildly warm weather. Our rule of thumb is this - never do it. Every year in the news we hear sad stories of dogs and children dying in stationary vehicles. Please see Parked Cars Cook Dogs for more info and what to do if you see a dog in a parked car.

6) Swimming
Great fun, great exercise and great for cooling down but don't allow your dog to swim in stagnant or dirty water and especially where algae could be. Also do not allow your dog to swim in water where they could get into difficulties or be a danger to wildlife.

7) Sunburn & Pad Burn
burnt dog pawWhite and thin coated dogs can get sunburn. An unperfumed kid’s sunscreen can help protect your dog's vulnerable nose and ears. Provide cool, shady areas where your dog can shelter from the sun. Don't walk your dog on hot surfaces such as pavements, tarmac, parking lots etc. as this can burn their pads.

8) Hygiene
Don't leave dog food out for flies to land on. If it is not eaten, take it up. Keep drinking water clean and fresh. Wash food and water bowls every day. Keep eyes, bums and other areas clean and make sure any wounds or sores on your dog are protected and covered.

9) Summer Holidays
Prepare your dog for a kennel stay well in advance or if you are getting a home sitter you should all meet beforehand. If holidaying away with your dog always be careful with off lead walks if you are visiting an unfamiliar area. Make sure your dog's tag details are up to date and consider a temporary tag with holiday info, if it differs. Check that jabs and passports are up to date if you are travelling abroad and ask your vet what nasties populate the country you are going to.

10) Parties & BBQs
teach children to respect dogsIn the excitement of a get together it is easy to forget the dog or be more distracted and relaxed about what they get up to. You also have lots of people round who are not necessarily dog owners and of course the usual smattering of strange children (OK, I'll rephrase - children who are strangers). We dog owners know to keep the dog away from the food and the hot BBQ but tell your guests as well and make sure visiting children are told some basic rules when it comes to interacting with your dog. There are some great free leaflets available that can help. For more info visit Dog Etiquette and Child-Dog Interaction.

Well that's our list. Do you have any other summer dog tips? Do let us know. We especially love hearing about your summer fun and games plus ingenious ways you keep your dog entertained and cool in the warm weather. Does your dog have their own paddling pool? Do they beg you to get the sprinkler out? Do you make your dog any special summer treats? Do you change your usual activities or routine at all? Comments can be added below. Tell us your ideas.

By Jenny Prevel

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