Keep Your Dog Safe From Common Summer Problems & Dangers
This summer promises to be somewhat different for all of us. The pandemic is causing all of us to balance personal pleasure with social responsibility and common sense. Many people may be turning toward additional or new outdoor adventures with our pups this summer, so we want to share some summer safety tips geared toward outdoor fun! And if you're going near water, be sure to check out the water safety section at the end!
We certainly don't want to unnecessarily cause you to worry, and we hope that we don't. But the fact that many of these dangers are unknown or under estimated is clear from the number of tragic stories every year, and we hope we can save even one pup.
1. Blue-Green Algae
One danger you may not be aware of that you could encounter on any hike is blue-green algae. Blue-Green Algae is very dangerous, and it's often fatal to dogs since they not only plunge into the water, but also are likely to drink it too. When present, its appearance can can range from a light sheen to a thick, paint-like green.
It is becoming more common due to farming practices and global warming, and every year there are numerous tragic stories about dogs getting in to it from swimming in ponds or other water with these algae blooms. Common symptoms can include panting, drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, and disorientation, and exposure to blue-green algae can result in liver failure and/or neurologic damage. Seek immediate veterinary assistance if you suspect your dog has encountered it, and be careful not to get it on yourself.
We have more information and other photos in another post on the Dangers of Blue-Green Algae Blooms, here.
2. Overheating and Heat Stroke
Your pup would like to remind you that furry is the operative word here. Remember that your pet experiences the heat more intensely than you do and cannot sweat to cool down. The heat affects some dogs more than others, and if they have a short snout, a heavy coat or are older or have health problems, they might be more susceptible to problems in hot weather.
Heat stroke is potentially lethal and completely preventable. If your dog is running around or spending time in extremely hot weather, keep an eye out for signs of danger: if your dog begins to pant vigorously, seems dizzy or disoriented, refuses (or can’t) to get up, loses consciousness, has thick saliva, and dark red or dry or mucous-coated gums, cool them down and consider whether you need to seek the help of a vet.
Some tips to beat the heat:
Keep water on hand when out. Here are our favorite Portable Water Options.
Seek out shade, and use a shaded bed.
Get a splash pool for your pup.
During extremely hot weather, spend your outdoor time early in the morning or late in the evening.
Yep--dog’s can sunburn too! For dogs with short, thin, or light-colored fur, there is the potential for sunburn. And most sun screens designed for people contain ingredients that can be harmful for dogs. You can pick up doggy sunscreen at your local pet store, and your vet can also recommend a good sunscreen and may even carry some for sale. If you want to view some online, we’ve put together our favorite products here.
4. The Real Danger of Hot Cars
I know.... We all know it gets hot in cars fast. Yet, every year there are stories about dogs who die in hot cars, so it's definitely worth a reminder. If you doubt this (and you feel like crying), just search for news stories from last summer to see how common this is. You also could be charged with animal cruelty if it happens.
The temperature inside a car rises a lot faster than most people think. If it’s a beautiful 75-degree day outside, within 10 minutes, it can be 94 degrees inside your car, and by the end of 20 minutes, the temperature will be 104. On a 90-degree day, temps can reach 160 within minutes. And no, cracking the window does not lower the temperature enough to help. You know you shouldn't do it, so please don't. If you see an animal locked in a hot car, call 911 and consider staying present until help arrives, unless this places you in an unsafe situation.
5. Burned Paws--Hot Asphalt and Other Surfaces
Keeping foot pads safe from extremely hot surfaces is another consideration. Remember, your dog always goes barefoot. The expressions "so hot you could fry an egg" is actually literal (well, sometimes!), and you definitely do not want to fry your pup's paws.
While their paws may be a bit tougher than your bare skin, if the pavement or sand is too hot for you to walk comfortably barefoot, it is also too hot for your dog. One option is to consider walks an early morning activity. Evenings are good, but remember that it can take pavement quite a long time to cool down after it’s been soaking up sun all day. When out walking during the day, try to avoid black asphalt as much as possible.
6. Fleas and Ticks
While you are at the vet’s office, make sure that you are up-to-date on flea and tick prevention. These are more than just a nuisance, since both fleas and ticks can cause illnesses such as tapeworm in the case of fleas, and Lyme disease in the case of ticks. Ticks are of course a serious risk to your own health. Fleas could also cause infections if they cause too much scratching, or they can spread and create an infestation at home.
7. Mosquito Illnesses
It is important to be sure heart worm prevention is current, since this is a mosquito-borne parasite. While this is a risk year-around, it’s particularly a cause for concern in the summer when there are more mosquitos. In addition to topical and ingestible preventives, Pro-Heart now offers both six-month and yearly prophylactic injections. They seem a little expensive on the front end, but the cost averages out comparably with monthly treatments, and for those of us who have trouble keeping up with monthly doses, it eliminates worry about missing a treatment.
8. Snakes, Spiders, and Other Dangerous Animals
Bugs love summer as much as we do, so keep an eye out for stinging or biting insects and other unwelcome visitors, such as snakes or scorpions. In addition to hornets, yellow jackets (particularly aggressive), wasps, and bees, keep an eye to the ground for spiders, particularly those that are venomous, ants, and miscellaneous biting creepy crawlies. Your dog’s fur may provide some protection, but these are all potentially dangerous to your pup too. And since it is 2020, we have murder hornets to worry about too this year.
Other insects can be a problem too. If you live in the Southeastern US, fire ants bite just as viciously as their name suggests, leave little sores, and can induce an allergic reaction if enough bites are received. If you have reason to suspect that your pet may have any type of insect or other allergy, talk with your vet about any prophylactic measures you should take before going on an outing.
Fireworks cause dogs to run away every year. They are of course most popular on and around the 4th of July, but they are also common on other holidays like Memorial Day.
10. Home Grooming Mishaps
While home grooming mishaps occur every summer when someone decides to trim a bit of fur from a dog to help keep them cool, we’re afraid they will be even more common this year, especially with so many businesses still closed as we go into warmer weather. Grooming mishaps can be serious! Most people should never use scissors on their dogs, since even a well behaved dog might be startled or fidgety.
11. Basic Water Dangers
Many dogs are comfortable in the water and may not need a life jacket for short playtimes, but if you’re out on the boat in the middle of the lake it’s a bit different. If you’re on a lake, you also never know when Rover might go after a duck and keep going, and going…. You’ll need to assess your dog as well as your location, and then take appropriate steps to keep them safe.
12. Pool Dangers
Never leave your dog unattended at a pool. Many dogs can’t get out of swimming pools without help, unless they happen to be at the steps. Even small wading pools can turn into traps for smaller dogs.
13. Boating Dangers
If you are boating, there are a few more things to keep in mind, like having a safe spot on the boat your dog knows to stay in, to having a “dog overboard” procedure just in case. Doggy lifejackets are made by many high-quality manufacturers and can be especially critical if your pup ever goes overboard while moving. Ensuring they are sized and fitted properly is important, so take the time to find the right one.
Have other summer safety tips you think we should share with all the other city pups? Please, send them our way and they might be included in a future version!