Updated: Jul 26
Summer brings about a whole lot of family fun!
But with that, comes a need to be cautious.
Excessive heat, toxic food at a family BBQ get together, fireworks, traveling/camping... There are so many ways our pets could get injured, or into trouble!
Summer Safety Tips:
1. Watch for heat exhaustion.
Know the signs of heatstroke & be prepared to intervene should you need to.
Brachycephalic breeds of dog (those with short snouts and smooshy faces) are especially prone to heat related illness. These are your boxers, pugs, bulldogs, etc. due to the conformation of their face and airway. Extra precautions MUST be taken with them in order for them to safely enjoy the summer heat. Early morning or evening walks are best, otherwise they are safest inside under the AC on very hot days. If you do take them out during peak temperatures, ALWAYS provide a pool and water. Any excessive panting or drooling and your dog should be brought back inside to cool off.
I go more in depth on warning signs of heat exhaustion & how to manage it in my New E-Book "Pet First Aid & Emergency Preparedness Guide" which can be purchased HERE.
2. Keep paws off of paved roadways on hot days.
Walk your dog in the grass if the pavement is too hot. Try your bare feet first.. if it is too hot for you, it's too hot for them.
3. ALWAYS provide fresh water.
This is not only common sense, but it's the law! Every living creature needs water to survive. Even plants. Fresh, clean, water should be available 24/7.
I like to add cooling fruit for extra hydration.
Cucumber and melon are great choices that most dogs love. You can even poor in the extra watermelon juice from cutting it up.
View the benefits of this Summer Hydration Electrolyte Elixir HERE!
Tuna juice is great for cats if they need some extra encouragement to drink.
4. Outdoor pets MUST have shade.
This is also a law. Pets must be provided a shaded area when kept outdoors. Cats, dogs, and even horses. Check your local ordinances for specifics.
5. Repel bugs. Repelling bugs and other parasites is important to keep your pet happy, healthy, and comfortable!
My previous blog post "Flea, Tick & Heartworm Preventatives; Are they Helping or Harming? An in-depth look!" explains this well!
Find the recipe for my Bug Off Spray HERE!
6. DO NOT leave pets in cars... Running or not. This should be self-explanatory, but we see it all the time. Pets left in hot cars, usually end up dead. It’s a very sad fact. You may think that leaving the AC running would be an option but I don’t advise this. Your pet could flip it off, your car could die, or a good Samaritan may not know the AC is on and they could decide to call it in to the police, or break the window themselves. Please, leave your pets at home when you have errands to run.
7. Leave your double coated dog alone!
Double coats act as insulation in heat, and in cold. Trimming excess hair is appropriate for some breeds. But you should NEVER shave double coated breeds. Insulation works both ways; insulating against cold, and insulating against heat. Shaving their coat also leaves their skin more exposed to the sun, causing sunburn and overheating. One last note, shaving double coats can actually ruin the entire coat overall. It ruins the guard hairs and will grow back course and often become matted.
8. Walk your pet in the morning before it gets too hot, or in the evening when it is cool. If you are able, walk your pet in the cooler hours of the day to avoid the peak temperatures.
9. Leave a fresh bowl of water in a shaded part of the yard for any strays or wild critters that may need a drink. Do an extra favor to those in need. Wild animals need a drink too! I leave a frisbee by the bushes with fresh water in it in the summer time. The rabbits and birds love it. I will also leave out a bigger bowl for any stray animals passing through, and I make sure the bird bath is filled!
Dogs and cats that get out/ escape in the summer may be scared and running for many hours. I've seen this countless times. They are panting heavily and very hard to catch. The least we can do is leave them a bowl of water.
10. Be Prepared with Homeopathy! Homeopathy is a MUST HAVE. Apis Mellifica is the go-to for bee stings and I always have it ready and in our hiking bag! Stings are known to cause allergic reactions (facial swelling and trouble breathing) in dogs.
More of my favorite top remedies can be found in my Pet First Aid and Emergency Preparedness Guide E-Book.
11. Let them SWIM!! Dogs, cats, guinea pigs, snakes, you name it! If it's hot enough, they are likely to take a dip! Offer an appropriately sized wading pool and let them choose. Some pets may not take to it at first, but keep offering. Others may like to be misted with a spray bottle or hose.
12. Have remedies on hand for scalded pads, burned noses, chapped skin, and bug bites.
Coconut oil is a favorite! You can also purchase a paw balm, or herbal skin salve. A must have item!
13. Avoid Bloat!
Bloat, also known as gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV) is a very serious and potentially fatal condition where the stomach flips and air is trapped.
Large breed dogs that have deep chests (Great Danes, Labradors, Golden Retrievers, German Shorthair Pointers) are very prone to this condition. Dogs should rest between 2-3 hours after eating a meal before engaging in play. It's also important to NEVER feed a panting dog a full meal. This, along with drinking water very fast, can causing gulping of air and lead to bloating!
Bloat can kill a dog in a few short hours. Emergency Medical care is extremely important!
14. Keep chemicals away from pets.
Lawn fertilizer, pool chemicals, pesticides, ant poison, mouse traps, etc. All of these are dangerous to pets and should be kept out of reach. I advise against toxic products, and always recommend to use safer alternatives for families with pets and children.
15. Supervise your pets around children.
Summer brings about family gatherings and other fun. Be sure that appropriate supervision between pets and children is achieved to prevent injury and bites.
16. Supervise your pets around food and other hazards.
Some foods can be very toxic to pets and need to be avoided. Family BBQ's are fun to bring pets to but it's our duty to assure safety! I have a full list of poisonous plants, foods, and other household items in my New E-Book "Pet First Aid & Emergency Preparedness Guide" which can be purchased HERE.
17. Keep all ID's up to date!
Many pets can get loose or escape when the weather gets nice. Be sure their ID tags are up to date and their microchip information is current. Check that their collars are secure and fitting properly! There should be no more than a 2 finger width gap under the collar. Oversized collars can not only slip off, but also get caught on things and choke a pet.
I prefer rolled leather collars with a metal buckle!
18. Feed for the occasion!
Avoid heavy meals with 'hot foods' like rice, chicken, lamb, and venison. Opt for foods that cool the body down and prevent excess internal heat build-up.
Some cooling foods we love are watermelon, cucumber, fish, rabbit, apple, pear, strawberry, and celery.
19. Provide Indoor Enrichment
When the weather is too hot, it's best to leave your pets indoors. This is especially true for brachycephalic breeds who do not tolerate heat or heavy exercise. Consider using some puzzle toys and indoor finding games as mental enrichment when outdoor walks and play are not an option!
Overall, summer should be a very enjoyable time for you and your pet!
Although, as mentioned above, there are some precautions to take in order to keep our pets safe and healthy, so we can all have Happy Trails!
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