Keeping your dog safe in the summer can be difficult both in the South and elsewhere. The first problem arising is the coming of July Fourth. It is one of the most dangerous days and nights for your dog.
Fight the urge to take your pups with you or even to have them outside. They should be kept safely inside and not be subjected to sharing your good time.
A dark room with the TV on loudly is helpful, so they can’t see or hear the fireworks. If the party is at your house, still put the dogs away.
The most common bad occurrence is that dogs might run away when they are frightened from the noise – some even jump over fences. Others will pull the leash right out of your hand even when you think you have control. Some dogs are never found safe when they disappear.
Other summer troubles include the hot pavement, whether the sidewalk or the road. Try the five-second rule: Put your hand on the pavement, and if you can’t keep it there for five seconds without burning, then it is too hot for dogs’ paws.
Walk them in the early morning or late evening for their long walks and in between on the grass is best. Hose them down if they are hot or take them to the beach, but keep them wet or in the shade.
You can also apply sunscreen if your dog has a thin coat of fur or is light in color. If your dog travels with you and puts his head out the car window, buy a pair of Doggles to protect his eyes.
You can also buy cooling shirts and bandanas that you wet and put on dogs to help keep them cool. Travel with a bowl and water at all times. Dogs dehydrate very quickly.
Of course, everyone should understand that leaving a dog in a hot car even for a few minutes can severely damage the dog’s health and even lead to death. Leave the air conditioning on or leave them at home!
If your dog does get sunstroke or overheat then a bathtub with cool not cold water is best.
Even dogs have summer allergies. Talk to your vet about allergy meds specific to your dog’s specific issues. Sometimes they need eye drops or treatment for their skin or paws. Hotspots are a major summer ailment and most dogs will need to be on antibiotics as well as topical treatments.
Summer storms are another common occurrence that frightens dogs. Your vet might recommend a course of anti-anxiety medications in addition to working with a trainer on behavior modification or desensitization techniques.
These all take time to improve fears but are worth the effort to make your dog feel more safe and secure. The techniques are varied and require patience on the owner’s part.
If your dog is going on a boat or swimming, a life vest will keep him safe and give him confidence in the water. Even on a boat, find a cool spot for the dog, as the sun and heat can be damaging and dehydrating.
Abby Bird is owner of Alpha Dog Obedience Training. AlphaDogTrainingAcademy@gmail.com