The summer heat is here. This heat and sunshine is a massive relief after the long winter most of us have experienced. However, just like you, your dog is likely struggling with this change in temperatures. The heat, humidity, and hot sun can be deceptively dangerous for your beloved dogs. Sunburns, dehydration, burned paws, ticks, mosquitoes, fleas, and seasonal allergies are all summertime hazards for your dog. Along with taking care of your dog’s joint health and mobility needs, it’s important you keep your dog safe from summer hazards. We’ve put together a list of summer dog safety tips that can help you keep your dog safe this summer. Of course, we always want to hear from you. Do you have some summer dog safety tips that are working wonders for your dog? Visit our Leaps & Bounds Facebook community page and tell us how you keep your dog safe and healthy in the warm summer months. Keep Your Dog Hydrated It does seem obvious that you need to keep your dog hydrated during the hot summer months. However, think of how easy it is to become dehydrated yourself. Exactly, the same holds true for your dog. Make sure your dog has constant access to clean and safe water. If you’re going out for a walk, bring a portable dog bowl with you. There are some easily portable water containers designed especially for dogs. Wet dog food does encourage dogs to drink more. Consider giving your dog some extra wet food after a long walk or on a particularly hot day. Drop a few ice cubes into your dog’s bowl as an icy and cool incentive. Keep Your Dog Protected From the Sun Heat stroke is a real threat for dogs. Try to take your dog out for walks during the cooler times of the day. Pay attention to how well your dog is walking and running. If your dog looks sluggish, is panting, or simply doesn’t want to walk – these can all be signs of too much sun. Walking in the woods is a great way to get natural shade for your dog and you. The trees have a natural cooling effect and also keep the ground cooler than the bare pavement. While a doghouse seems like a good idea on hot summer days, the problem with these structures is that they trap heat and don’t allow a breeze to flow. Instead of doghouse, set your dog up in the shaded area of your backyard with a kiddie pool. You’ll be amazed at how much your dog enjoys standing and lying down in her very own pool. Keep Your Dog’s Paws Healthy Ouch, that pavement is hot! Pay attention to the heat of the pavement, sand, patio stones, and sidewalks during your daily walks. The skin on your dog’s paws is very sensitive and can easily become burned and irritated. Press your hand down on the surface for 30 seconds, if the surface is too hot for your hand – it’s too hot for your dog. There are balms and summer booties available that can help protect your dog’s paws from the summer heat. As well, try to keep your dog off hot surfaces in general by walking in the grass (beware of sharp objects hiding in the grass) and by walking during the cooler times of the day. After your dog walks and outdoor playtime, check your dog’s paws for sensitive spots, blisters, and irritation. Do talk to your vet if you notice any problems with your dog’s paws. Because your dog’s paws are the primary contact point with the ground, any sores or irritations can create other problems such as an infection. Keep Your Dog Out Of The Hot Car Never, ever leave your dog in the car. Leaving a window open or using a windshield screen does not keep the car cool enough for your dog. Leave your dog at home. According to pets.webmd.com, on an 85-degree day, the temperature in your car can reach 102 F within 10 minutes (this is with the window cracked open). After 30 minutes, the car could heat up to 120 F. Keep Your Dog Safe from Ticks, Mosquitoes, And Fleas The heat, sun, and humidity aren’t the only summertime dangers for your dog. Make sure your dog is protected from ticks, mosquitoes, fleas, and other parasites. Talk to your veterinarian about the best way to keep your dog safe. Depending on where you live, there will be different local natural hazards that you need to protect your dog from. Don’t let your dog drink from stagnant pools of water, the bacteria in this water can be a real dog hazard. Keep Your Dog Safe Outdoors One of the best things about summer is the feeling of freedom we all enjoy outdoors. Kids are zipping around on bikes. Parents are out walking with strollers. People are casually walking, chatting, and enjoying the fresh air. This is why you need to keep your dog on a leash that you can easily control. While your dog might be very well trained to walk-off-leash, you can’t predict what the kids on bikes, skateboards, or scooters are going to do. You also can’t easily contain your dog’s excitement when a chipmunk or bird gets too close. Yes, even in the woods, it’s a good idea to keep your dog on a leash. Think of the hikers, mountain bikers, runners, walkers, and other animals. It’s very easy for your dog to get distracted and become lost when following a tempting scent in the woods or chasing a rabbit. Keep Your Dog At A Healthy Weight This is not just a summertime concern, but a year-round concern – keeping your dog at a healthy weight makes a huge difference in his overall joint health and mobility. If your dog has gained some weight after the long winter, he might not be ready for extra-long summer dog walks or a big hike in the woods. Pay attention to how well your dog is moving, running, and playing. If you notice any limping or excessive fatigue, it’s a good idea to consult your veterinarian. Remember, if your dog is overweight, she has an extra layer of insulation, making it harder for her to cool herself during the hot summer days. Keep Your Dog Indoors There are some days when it’s just way too hot for your dog to be outside. Yes, your dog does need a walk, do this at the coolest time in the morning and night. Keep your house cool with the window coverings closed and the air conditioning or fans running. There are products available such as cooling mats and cooling bandanas that can help your dog stay extra comfortable on hot sticky days. Pay attention to the UV rating in your area and remember that your dog is susceptible to sunburn, just like you. Have A Healthy and Safe Doggy Summer! We want you to get the most out of the summer months. Above all else, use common sense when it comes to keeping your dog safe this summer. When in doubt, contact your veterinarian. Here’s to an active and safe doggy summer. Visit our Leaps & Bounds Facebook community page and tell us how you’re getting the most out of the summer season with your dog.