Warning: I am not a veterinarian. All advice I give should be taken with a grain of salt, as with a lot of advice you may read online. I just like to help animals, through helping their pet parents, with the 19 years of experience I have gained by working in veterinary medicine. Ultimately, you should consult your veterinarian before trying anything yourself at home.
Summer is fast approaching in many places, which can mean many dangers for your dog.
It may sound like I’m exaggerating, but Summer can quickly turn into a painful or uncomfortable time of year. Common, everyday, outings can turn into a potentially life threatening situation for your dog, during those hot months.
Here’s a few ideas to help keep your precious Summer buddy safe, when taking them out of the house, during the time of year where we all like to get out and enjoy the weather.
Walking Your Dog
Whether you are unable to walk them during the coolest part of the day, or you live in a place like Arizona where, during the summer, it doesn’t really cool down at all, make sure to protect your dog from the heat.
If you are unaware of the dangers that the hot pavement, cement, or asphalt can cause to your dog’s paws, take a look.
Many people think that a dog’s paws are made of sturdier stuff than they actually are, and why not? They look tough and they feel tough. They never seem to require protection during any other part of the year.
But the pads of your dog’s foot can get burned, and injured, in a multitude of ways.
Walking your dog on a hot surface like a sidewalk, without proper protection, can cause painful blisters and burns. That can cause the pad to split or peal away, exposing the tender skin underneath and causing a lot of pain, and can take a long period of time to heal.
Due to the structure of the thick outer layer, a dog’s foot pads can take any where from 3-6 weeks to heal from excessive burns or cuts. During that time, they might need to have their feet bandaged to help protect the tender flesh under the pad, and to help aid in pain relief. Those bandages then have to be replaced every 3-5 days to keep from causing secondary issues dogs can get from having their feet covered (skin infections/bandage abrasions/etc.)
Here’s how to protect your dog:
1. Start with making sure the temperature is appropriate to walk your dog. Typically, if the weather is 80 degrees F or over (depending on breed and humidity level) , you should wait until early morning or later in the afternoon to go on a walk.
2. If you have to walk your dog in extreme temperatures (like working or therapy dogs) then make sure their feet are protected with dog shoes. If you’re walking your dog in the heat you want to be sure to purchase a set that has “breathable” material. Dog’s feet sweat to help cool their body temperature when they get hot. If your dog’s feet are sweaty, or wet, for long periods of time they can get a skin infection. Make sure to remove the shoes when they’re not needed. Drying your pet’s feet with a towel can also help to dry their feet faster and keep a skin infection from starting.
3. Make sure to carry fresh water with you, at all times while walking your dog. Having a portable water bowl, so they can take a drink when needed, is always a good idea. You never know when a quick walk may turn into a longer than expected journey. Strange things happen, it’s always better to be prepared.
4. Try to take periodic breaks in the shade, when possible. This would also a great time for a water break. If you notice your dog panting excessively, becoming lethargic, excessive drooling, red gums, and/or they feel hot to the touch (ears, mouth, body) , then you may want to get them home and cooled down as soon as possible. These are some of the first signs of heat stroke/exhaustion.
Contact your veterinarian if these signs don’t start to improve after you get them home and take steps to get them cooled down.
Different dog breeds, sizes, and age, play a big part in what the safest conditions are to walk your dog. The above chart gives some great examples to go by.
Also important, but has nothing to do with Summer safety, is taking poop pick up bags with you on your walks. I understand that it’s not the most fun part of walking your dog, but it is your responsibility. You can recycle grocery bags, so that you don’t have to buy any special baggies to carry around. Or, if you want to be fancy and make sure that you never forget to take the bags with you (which I always used to do!), check out this really convenient dog waste bag holder with leash clip.
Dogs can spread intestinal parasites, and also viruses like Parvovirus, through their feces. It also looks disgusting and attracts flies and other pests. Your dog may not be the one spreading the issue, but being a good example to others and encouraging them to do the same, is never a bad idea.
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