15 ways to keep Fido happy, healthy, hydrated, and by your side during the dog days of summer.
1. Planning a road trip this summer with the family pet? If your dog or cat only rides in the car for trips to the vet, prepare your pet in advance for an enjoyable vacation by taking short, fun excursions to a nearby park or lake.
2. When taking your dog on vacation pack these doggy supplies to make it a success: a collapsible water bowl, jug of water, portable doggy bedroll that rolls up tight for transporting, a neon leash and collar, life jacket if your trip includes swimming, dog toys, treats and dog food.
3. Dogs with flat faces and short noses (brachycephalic breeds, such as the pug, bull dog and Pekinese) are more prone than other breeds to breathing problems, which are exasperated in the summer heat. These dogs are also susceptible to overheating, so it’s best to keep them out of hot or humid weather conditions.
4. Never leave your pet inside a parked car. It only takes 10 minutes when its 85°F for the temperature to reach 102°F inside the car. In thirty minutes, it can reach 120°F. Lowering a car window partially does not reduce the temperature inside. In this scenario, pets can suffer fatal heatstroke in a matter of minutes.
5. Pets, like people need to acclimate to a change of climate. If you will be vacationing or moving to a more humid, drier or tropical location this summer, initially limit time spent outdoors. Exercise or walk your pet in the coolest hours of the day, early morning and evening to allow everyone time to adjust to the new environment and weather conditions.
6. Keep in mind that all dogs don’t know how to swim. Practice the buddy system with your pets. Always accompany your dog when wading or swimming. Even if your dog loves to swim, put a bright colored life preserver on him when in the water, boat or canoe. When wading in the ocean, or any moving creek or river attach a rope to the life jacket to keep your dog safe and within reach.
7. Dogs have been known to run off when startled or excited. Use a bright neon dog collar and leash when walking your dog at night to help you easily locate him if you become separated.
8. Never walk your pet on hot pavement. Besides blistering his paws, the heat rising from hot asphalt or concrete can especially cause small animals to easily overheat. In hot weather exercise your dog on the grass or in shaded areas. When in urban areas where hot pavement cannot be avoided put canine boots on your dog to protect his paws.
9. Long haired pets should be brushed and bathed regularly to remove hair as it sheds and to help keep him cool and comfortable. Rinse or bathe your dog after swimming in saltwater or in a chlorinated swimming pool to avoid possible skin irritation.
10. Fur not only helps keep pets warm in winter, but also provides protection against the heat, excessive sun exposure and sunburn. If your dog will be enjoying time outdoors this summer, consider trimming instead of shaving to prevent sunburn. Veterinarian, Dr. Karen Becker makes this recommendation on her website, www.healthypets.mercola.com, “While I typically do not recommend shaving your pet, if yours has a long coat, spends time outdoors during hot weather, and doesn’t object to a shorter coat, consider giving her a summer cut. Just take care not to go any shorter than an inch, because her coat provides protection from sunburn.”
11. Provide a shady spot or a shelter for your outdoor pets, ideally one that blocks direct sunshine, yet allows some airflow to circulate. Dogs like to lie in the dirt when it’s hot out. Under that huge shade tree construct a small raised bed and fill it with garden soil. Set up a canopy or pup (dog) tent when going camping or swimming. Don’t want to invest in a pup tent? Tie two ropes or a clothes line around the arms of two folding chairs spaced several feet apart. Drape a huge beach towel, bed sheet or tarp over the ropes to form a temporary shelter for your dog.
12. Pets need a source of fresh drinking water on hand throughout the day. Select a water bowl that cannot be easily overturned for outdoor pets. Larger dogs can drink water from a cooler or trough. Remove the lid to prevent it from shutting. Change the water daily. Freeze water in an empty ice cream bucket and add the block of ice to the water container to keep it from getting hot during the day.
13. Provide fun, wet ways for your dog to cool off outdoors in hot weather. Employ a water sprinkler, slip-and-slide or a kiddy pool partially filled with water, for dogs to splash, soak and enjoy. Standing in water helps reduce your pet’s internal temperature. Provide a wet towel for your dog to lie on when resting outside during hot weather.
14. Instead of giving your dog ice cubes which may cause dental damage give her frozen blueberries or peas as a treat to help her cool off on a hot summer day. Freeze beef or chicken broth in Popsicle molds for a safe broth-sicle snack your dog will love.
15. When keeping your dog indoors during hot weather, she will appreciate resting in a room with cool tile floors, under a ceiling fan, and away from sunny windows. If you keep your dog in a pen, place a frozen water bottle inside for her to lean against.
Deborah Tukua is the editor of Journey to Natural Living and the author of the healthy fresh from the blender recipe book, Naturally Sweet Blender Treats. She is a freelance writer for the Farmers' Almanac and Chiropractic Economics magazine and author of the book, Marketing Strategies for Chiropractic Success. Check out Lowell and Deborah's super sturdy and handsome DIY Gardening Potting Bench Plans.