By Susan Paretts
During the warm summer weather, you may want to hang outside with your pet to soak up the sun or take a dip in the pool. However, you’ll need to take a few precautions so your pet won’t get sick, overheated, or even develop a sunburn. Follow these tips to keep your pet safe while you both enjoy the sunshine.
Chill Out and Stay Hydrated
Summer temperatures can soar into the triple digits, so keep your pet in a cool, air-conditioned environment for a majority of the day to prevent heatstroke, especially for short-nosed breeds. Jo Jo Harder, producer of America’s Top Dog Model, in Boca Raton, Florida, recommends keeping your pet hydrated during the summer months. “Make sure your pet has plenty of water—at home and on outings,” Harder says. Pets can become dehydrated quickly in the heat. “Never leave your pet behind in a locked car,” she adds. Temperatures inside the car can quickly rise to dangerous levels.
She also recommends taking your pet outside either early or late in the day. “Avoid excessive exposure during the strongest hours of sunlight, usually between 10 am and 2 pm.”
Protect Those Precious Paws
Summer outings with your dog can be fun, but only if you protect your little one’s feet from the blazing temperatures of concrete, wood, sand and asphalt. These surfaces can reach temperatures of 145 degrees Fahrenheit, causing serious burns and blisters. Test the surface with your own foot or hand before allowing your dog to walk on it—if it’s too hot for you, it’s too hot for Fido. If possible, try to stick to grass when on summer walks.
To be safe during extended outings with your pup, Darlene Richards, a licensed veterinary technician in Las Vegas, Nevada, recommends doggie footwear. “[Get] dog-specific booties that will prevent your pup’s feet from becoming burnt in the summer and [protect] from jagged rocks that your dog may be exposed to during hikes.”
Don’t Feel the Burn
Just like people, pets can get sunburned. Fortunately you can protect your pet by dressing him in UV protection clothing or by applying a pet-safe sunscreen to sensitive areas like the nose, belly, tail, and ear tips. Veterinarian Ken Tudor of the Well Dog Place in Claremont, California and the Hearthstone Homemade website, recommends that you apply the sunscreen, then wait a little while before going out. “Monitor your dog to allow the sunscreen to soak into the skin after application.,” he says. “Dogs tend to lick the sunscreen off of their skin after you apply it.”
Dr. Tudor also recommends that dog breeds with a thick undercoat, like a German shepherd or Siberian husky, shouldn’t be completely shaved. This is because a dog’s undercoat actually helps to protect her sensitive skin from the sun and naturally regulates her temperature. Breeds like poodles, who don’t have an undercoat, may benefit from a shave during the warmer months to prevent matting of the fur. You can tidy up your pet’s coat yourself for the summer with the ConairPRO Dog 2-in-1 Pet Clipper/Trimmer Kit.
Play It Safe in the Water
With some safety precautions in place, a cool dip in the pool is a healthy way to give your pet some exercise during the heat of summer. Darlene Richards recommends a pet life jacket, especially for smaller dogs.
Dr. Tudor warns that you should give your four-legged friend several breaks during play, because she can accidentally gulp an excessive amount of water when playing water-based games of fetch and while swimming. Ingesting too much water can cause water toxicity, a dangerous condition.
Don’t be afraid to go outside and enjoy the summer sunshine with your pet—it’s a great time to partake of some outdoor fun together. With some careful supervision of your furry friend’s activities to keep them safe in the sun, the fresh air and exercise will be good for both of you.