Keeping your dog safe during the warmer months is all about careful preparation and forward planning. As the summer gets into full swing, here are some summer tips and facts;
It's important to help your dog stay as fit and healthy as possible all year round. During warmer months it's especially important to help them maintain a healthy weight. Your dog will likely be less active when it's hot, and any walks should be moved to cooler parts of the day, so it can be a good idea to adjust the amount of food you give them to reflect how much energy they are using up.
One of the biggest summer dangers is ticks, especially for the dog who loves exploring the great outdoors. Check your pet for ticks at least once a day; as they can be harder to find on thicker-coated dogs. It’s always handy to keep a ticker remover at home or one on your keychain for fast removal.
However, ticks are the number one spreader of diseases in pets, with symptoms hard to spot, so do speak to your vet about an effective tick prevention program.
The sound of a buzzing bee can be very intriguing to your dog, causing them to investigate. If your dog does get stung, quickly remove the sting using a credit card or something similar to scrape it out. Be careful to scrape from below the venom sac and don’t squeeze or pull the sting out as this can release more venom and prolong the irritation.
Take a cold, damp cloth and hold it against where your dog was stung to reduce the swelling. Ice is good to quickly soothe the site of the sting but be careful not to shock your dog with the sudden temperature change and sensation.
Your dog is likely to be agitated and irritated by the sting, so as much as possible try to calm them down.
Some dogs are allergic to bee and wasp stings, so watch out for signs of allergic reaction, including swelling and difficulty breathing and contact your vet straight away.
For such tiny objects, grass seeds can cause a lot of trouble, especially in the summer months. Dogs often get them lodged in their ear canals or between their toes while out enjoying their walk, and they can cause a lot of pain and irritation.
If you get back from a walk and notice a grass seed in the coat or on the surface of your dog’s skin, remove it straight away. But if you spot a seed that has started to burrow into your dog’s skin, or if your dog is licking or chewing at a sore place or think your pet might have a seed in their eyes or ears, contact your vet.
Regular grooming or clipping will help you identify the above hazards much quicker. Plus keeping your dog’s coat clean and free of knots and matting can help to keep your dog cool (read our top grooming tips here for more handy tips). This is important as matted hair can trap heat.
There is nothing more traditional than a garden BBQ during the sunny summer months.
However tempting BBQ scraps are to your dog they can really upset their stomach and undercooked or fatty foods can make them very poorly. Try giving them a healthy chew or a fun toy to play with instead. It will keep them occupied while you and your guests enjoy the food.
Make sure your dog is kept a safe distance away from the BBQ. A stolen sausage directly from the barbecue is way too hot to handle!
When tidying up, make sure all your rubbish is put straight in the bin, as cooked bones and wooden skewers smelling of tasty meat can be very tempting to a hungry dog but also very dangerous if your dog decides to try and eat them.
If your dog likes to swim during the summer months keep an eye out for Blue-green algae. This algae grows in stagnant water and looks like a blue-green sheen on the surface. It's very toxic to dogs and just taking in a small amount can make them seriously ill. Don't let them swim or drink from anywhere you think might have blue-green algae. If you're worried, they might have come into contact with the algae, don't let them lick their fur and contact your vet right away.
Wherever your dog's been for a swim, it's a good idea to give them a good wash when they get home. This will clear their fur of anything they might have picked up in the water.
As the temperature begin to rise over the summer months, keeping your dog cool is key. Unlike humans, dogs can’t sweat through their skin and so they rely on panting and releasing heat through their paw pads and nose to regulate their body temperature. Heatstroke develops when a dog can't reduce their body temperature and it can be fatal.
Signs of heatstroke include:
• HEAVY PANTING
• GLAZED EYES
• A RAPID PULSE
• EXCESSIVE SALIVATION
• LACK OF COORDINATION
• VOMITING OR DIARRHOEA
• LOSS OF CONSCIOUSNESS
If you think your dog has heatstroke, you need to act fast. Firstly, call your local vet. Then take them to a cool, shaded area. Apply towels soaked in cold water to their head, neck and chest and let them drink water or lick an ice cube. Never place them directly into ice cold water or give them too much to drink as they may go into shock.
Don't Leave your dog in a hot car
Never leave your dog in the car unattended. Despite the many warnings, each summer brings numerous accounts of dogs that become sick or even die of heatstroke because they were left in a car. Even if it does not seem that hot outside, the temperature inside the car can rise to dangerous levels within minutes.