The Dog Days of Summer: Safety Tips for your Furry Friend!
By Lauren Perry
June 28, 2018
The Dog Days of Summer
At Trident Shield, our goal is to provide safety advice for your entire family and that includes your dogs! For those who know my background as a service dog trainer, it won’t come as surprise that I am quite biased towards those fun-loving members of our family and I never pass on an opportunity to share ways to keep them safe (Bonus that it gives me an excuse to talk about dogs!). Although your dogs are thrilled during the summer that the kids are home to play with more often, there are some increased risks that they face at this time of year. It is very important to know what those are, so that your dog can enjoy a trip to the beach rather than a trip to the vet!
They can’t beat the heat
Dogs are very susceptible to overheating, which can lead to the often fatal conditions of heat stroke and cardiac arrest. Be prepared to amend your pup’s exercise routine to accommodate for hotter temperatures. Here are a few ways to decrease the stress of heat on their system:
- Supply regular access to cool water,
- Adjust walk times to earlier and later in the day,
- Plan multiple, shorter exercise sessions rather than one longer one, and
- Having them take frequent breaks from play.
Even excessive swimming can cause heat exhaustion, so never assume that they are not at risk just because they are in the water. And most importantly, never leave your dog in a car that is not running with the air conditioning on, even in the shade or with windows rolled down. It can take only 10-15 minutes for the car’s internal temperature to rise to dangerous levels and a dog will quickly succumb to heat exhaustion in those conditions.
Don’t Ignore the Signs
Signs that your dog is suffering from heat stroke include:
- Increased heart rate
- Excessive panting
- Increased salivation
- Bright red or pale gums.
As the heat stroke worsens, they may collapse, enter into seizures, coma, or cardiac arrest. If you believe your dog is showing signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke, immediately cease their activity, give them cool water to drink (although it seems helpful, do not give them ice water, as it is actually dangerous to their system), cover them in wet towels or run a hose over their body, move them to an air conditioned area, and immediately bring them to your vet.
Fear or Fun? A Dog’s Opinion on Fireworks
The sad truth is that every year at Fourth of July, shelters see an increase in stray and lost dogs. While most people love some good fireworks, it is quite the opposite for many of our beloved pets and they may injure themselves or run away out of fear. To ensure the safety of your pup during fireworks season, make sure that you take them into consideration while making your plans. It is best to not bring your dog to the fireworks show, especially if they have a history of fear, and keep them in a safe, indoor area where they cannot escape or injure themselves if they get panicked. Have proper identification updated and securely on your dog’s collar so you can be reunited with them in the event that they run away. If you are very concerned about their well-being, you can have someone stay at the house to keep them safe, consider a product like the Thundershirt, which may help calm your dog during stress, or in extreme cases, speak with your veterinarian about anti-anxiety medications.
Too much water can be a bad thing
For those of you with water-loving dogs, it is important to know that rapid ingestion of large quantities of water can cause a fatal condition called hyponatremia, or water toxicity. There is a scientific explanation of what occurs within the body (explained well in this article), but the short version is that the blood can become so dilute from the sudden intake of water that the cells in the body swell and impact the central nervous system and brain. The scary part is that the symptoms develop quickly and the dog can die before you realize what is going on and are able to get them to the vet. Some of the symptoms to watch for are staggering, vomiting, lethargy, bloating, increased salivation, and convulsions. The best way to reduce your dog’s risk of this is to take frequent breaks from swimming or play in the water to allow their system to process any water intake.
By following this advice and taking general safety precautions for your dog this summer, you are ready to go enjoy the beautiful weather with man’s best friend!