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Dog Tip: More Warm Weather and Outdoor Safety Pet Tips

By Robin Tierney

NOTE: The content on this website cannot be used in connection with any profit-seeking activity due to agreements with the writers, editors and sources contributing to the content. These articles may NOT be reproduced in any form without author permission. To contact the author, email Robin at Tierneydog@yahoo.com.

Today's Dog Tipsheet contains a potpourri of articles, most of them new, about summertime safety for pets.

The first article was recently submitted by animal welfare volunteer Natalie Kramer.

Summer months pose dangers to animals, particularly dogs. Some major do's and don't's:

* NEVER leave a dog in the car, not even for "a few minutes." He or she might not die in five minutes, but dehydration can begin setting in. If you must run out for a minute, keep the engine running and the air-conditioning ON, lock the car with a different key from the one in the ignition, and leave a note on the dashboard letting people know that the A/C is on for the dog and you will be back promptly. Do this only if you have absolutely no choice, for example you are traveling alone with the dog and must use a bathroom at a rest stop where the dog is not allowed.

* Think twice before traveling with your dog during hot spells. Unless you have a cool place to stay, you might spend your vacation in the air-conditioned car. Many beaches do not allow dogs to swim during the day, so there is no place for him to cool off. Many hotels and motels allow dogs; AAA has a guide listing pet-friendly accommodations. (Other sources do as well; see the Robin's Dog Tipsheet on Traveling topics.) Keep in mind that when stressed by travel, many dogs lose their appetite and desire to drink, which might put them in danger of losing electrolytes. This is especially serious for a senior dog. If the dog loses interest in his regular food during the trip, bribe! Offer some kind of protein and grain (cooked rice, mashed potatoes) that he or she will eat even when stressed.

* Do not walk your dog during the hot hours. Do your daily walks early in the morning and as late at night as you can, and bring ice water with you on your walks. Pet supply retailers sell nice fanny packs, with an "Outward Hound" label, which have two bottles and a collapsible bowl. You can put some ice cubes in the water to keep it cool for the walk. Playing fetch in the air-conditioned basement is an alternative to daily walks on really hot days. Also, some dogs enjoy romping in the (fenced!) back yard, when the sprinklers are on. Other dogs are scared by sprayed water.

* Another hazard to dogs during summer months is poisonous mushrooms growing in many yards. Some dogs find their taste irresistible and can fall very sick if a sufficient amount is ingested. This is especially true for small dogs, but large dogs are not safe either. If you see mushrooms in the yard, pick them and dispose of them in such a way that the dog (or the cat inside the house) will not get a hold of them. Also, some plants and berries are poisonous. If you don't know what grows in your back yard, check with your vet or the local agricultural extension service.

* It is important for dogs to be properly groomed for the summer. Those who need clipping (our poodles or terriers, for example) need to have their coats cut short for the summer months. This keeps them cooler, but it exposes them to sunburn. And, no, SPF lotion will not protect their skin where the fur won't let it penetrate. So, keep your freshly shorn dog out of the sun because sunburn is painful for dogs and takes a long time to heal (and requires medical attention). The long-furred dogs who get brushed (our mixed and purebred Shepherds, Collies, Retrievers, etc.) need to be groomed before the hot weather arrives. They need to be brushed VERY thoroughly to remove the winter undercoat shed during spring. In some dogs, this has to be done over the course of several days or even weeks BEFORE they are bathed. If this is not done, bathing may result in multiple mats that are impossible to brush out. Mats are painful; they pull on the skin, resulting in sores and hot spots. Once the dog is bathed, he/she needs to be brushed again to remove fur loosened by bathing. Regular brushings should be done afterwards to keep the coat as light as possible for the summer months.

* Many dogs are terrified by thunder and lightning, as well as by fireworks and firecrackers. Some dogs are so panicked that they will chew their way out of rooms and crates, bloodying themselves and causing damage. Speak to the vet, who might suggest a sedative and a behavior modification program. With most dogs, this fear is not as extreme, so keep them in the room where thunder and lightning are the least visible and audible and try to distract them with games or treats. Some dogs hide in the bath tub during the storm. Let them do that if they are not destructive. Many dogs grow out of this fear with time. (Also see the Dog Tipsheet about Thunder on the PAW website.)

* When mowing a lawn, whether with a push-mower or a riding mower, the dogs should be locked securely inside the house. Some dogs attack that "noisy thing" and it takes a split second to mow over a paw or a leg. Since there are major veins going through limbs, a dog can die from a major blood loss very quickly.

With a few precautions, we can all enjoy our summer and our dogs in safety and good health.

Recent article about warm weather safety:

Recent article about outdoor pet threats (2 PDF pages):

Detailed Warm Weather Pet Safety and Yard Care Guide

Thunder, fireworks fears:


For more of Robin's Dog Tips, see the index at  www.paw-rescue.org

Partnership for Animal Welfare
P.O. Box 1074, Greenbelt, MD 20768

Last Updated: April 26, 2018 (LET) PawSupport