It was a hot one last week.
The dogs in the play yards were a little more subdued than normal.
There were lots of shade breaks…
water cooler gossip sessions….
and general lazing about.
Let me tell ya, six years (yep, WOOF is six years old!) of dealing with the blazing San Ramon summers has taught us a thing or two about hot weather safety.
So in honor of summer, here’s our Top Ten Dog Summer Safety Tips. (We’ll count it down David Letterman-style because we’re cool like that.)
10. Backyard BBQ Boo Boos
There are some good reasons not to invite your dog to your backyard BBQ.
For one, sticks in the fire pit can be tempting to grab and – needless to say – a fire-scorched toy is not what your doggie had in mind. Also, hastily discarded paper plates full of bones can be grabbed when nobody is looking and cause blockages in your dog’s tummy and possible surgery.
All the excitement and unfamiliar people whooping it up can be too much for our furry little sweeties. That’s why we recommend boarding your dog with WOOF while you have your party. Your pooch will be in a calm, safe environment and you can part-ay the night away, guilt-free. 😛
9. Sunscreen – Not Just for Humans
Fair skinned, light-colored dogs need sunscreen just as much as we do! Make sure to dab some on any exposed skin or even spritz a light film over all their fur. Make sure the sunscreen is safe to use on pets and don’t get it in their eyes!
8. Beach Bugaboos
Taking your dog to the beach is one of the best parts of summer! But remember to keep them safe from a couple of common pitfalls.
Dogs who have been sedentary all winter should not be encouraged to run like Bo Derek in the sand. Running in sand is HARD and an ADVANCED WORK OUT. Out-of-shape or older pups who get swept up in the moment can end up pulling a muscle or – worse- tearing a ligament that will require surgery. So keep it mellow.
Swimming in the ocean is fun – especially when you’re chasing a ball! – but please don’t let your pup swim out in raging waves and get pulled under. Also watch that they don’t gulp salt water, which can make them very sick (and include vomiting in the car on the ride home, which we’d all like to avoid.)
7. Water – Fresh, Clean, Cold and Lots!
Make sure wherever your dog hangs out in the heat, there is always a bowl of cold, clean, fresh water. And that he knows where it is and can get to it. Dehydration feels crummy and is dangerous.
If you have your dog outside, make sure there is access to shade. They might want a sun nap but when it gets too hot, they have a choice to avoid the heat.
5. Rest Breaks
Resting in the heat is not optional. In fact, for short-muzzled breeds like bulldogs, frenchies, pugs, etc. – it can be a matter of life or death.
These dogs can’t cool their body temperature as well as long-muzzled dogs by panting because their face is an inefficient shape (that’s science, people!) so they need to get breaks from the heat as often as possible. Or avoid going outside all together.
4. Hot Pavement: A Paws For Reflection
I often marvel at how tough dogs’ feet are. They walk around all sorts of places on those cute little pads.
But make no mistake – hot asphalt burns their bare feet just as badly as it does our own. So don’t walk your dog across that scalding hot parking lot – drive them over to the nice, cool grass instead.
3. Foxtails – How We Loathe You
I worked in the veterinary field for 15 years, and can I just say that these little monsters kept us busy all summer long. Foxtails up the nose, foxtails in the feet, foxtails in the ears.
Foxtails, foxtails, foxtails!
And more often than not, we’d have to use anesthesia to get those suckers out because they are shaped to BURROW deeper and deeper into your unsuspecting doggie (who was just trying to run through a field for gosh sakes.)
If you see any dry weeds or anything that resembles what’s pictured above, STAY FAR AWAY. Trust me on this one.
2. No Parking Zone
I love to take my dog with me on errands just as much as the next person. And I too have been guilty of the “I’ll just be five minutes in there!” reasoning for leaving my dog in a car when it was a little too warm out.
But this is truly a serious no-no. Once the outside temperature reaches 70 degrees, the inside of a car becomes an oven. And no cracking of windows or opening of sun roofs will help.
I remember one of my veterinary friends calling dog heat stroke “the big smile,” because when their core temperature starts to climb to 107 degrees, the sides of their mouths pull back really wide. And that’s the sign that they are about to die from heat stroke.
I always think of that darkly poetic term whenever I’d like to run into the store when I have my dog with me in the car and it makes me shudder.
I don’t mean to be graphic about it but it really isn’t a good idea – ever. If it’s not below 65 degrees outside, please just leave them at home. (Or better yet, bring them to WOOF for a quickie daycare visit while you run your errands- up to five hours is less than $20!)
1. Enjoy Each Other
Once we become grown ups, we sometimes forget to play. And summer is built for playing.
So take your dog’s advice and just hang out. Drool a little bit, nap a little bit, wag a little bit.
Here’s to a wonderful summer.